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Archive for March, 2008

All is not as it seems

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

“All life is only a set of pictures in the brain, among which there is no difference betwixt those born of real things and those born of inward internal dreamings, and no cause to value the one above the other.”
H P Lovecraft

Stumbled across some more neat optical illusions.

Here’s one created by M Bach & J L Hinton.

If your eyes follow the movement of the rotating pink dot, you will only see one color. Pink. If you stare at the black + in the center, the moving dot turns to green. Now, concentrate on the black + in the center of the picture. After a short period of time, all the pink dots will slowly disappear, and you will only see a green dot rotating. The image is a 12-frame gif file of a circle of pink dots with a single one missing in rotation from each frame. There are no green dots. There are no frames with any more than one pink dot missing.

Pink dot illusion

With this one, focus on the black dot in the centre and then move your head in towards the screen and away again. No changing frames in this illusion. It’s a static image.

rotating illusion

Nuts and bolts

Monday, March 10th, 2008

“The aim of education should be to teach us rather how to think, than what to think – rather to improve our minds, so as to enable us to think for ourselves, than to load the memory with thoughts of other men.”
Bill Beattie

As Armando Iannucci so eloquently states in The Observer the Sunday before last, this is about “the stupidest, cack-brained, sherbert-headed nonsense more likely to do more damage to children than a pile of witches”.

Notwithstanding the slur on indigenous healing traditions of all stripes, which we’ll let pass for the moment, he goes on to say

It’s a bizarre new initiative from the Department for Education and Skills called the Early Years Foundation Stage and, like most devastatingly life-worsening initiatives, it’s been unwrapping itself slowly and unannounced, with few headlines, no votes and under the guise of safe-sounding phrases that make it appear designed for the greater good.

The EYFS is a series of targets anyone in the care of children as young as three has to aim for. They cover aspects of child education as diverse as emotional development and language skills and one would think the ambition behind them was a good one – to make sure that there’s a solid, standardised starting point for all children’s education. Except that because the targets are mandatory, it means someone other than the teachers or the school or the child-minder is telling you what to do with each child. Which is fine if the person setting the targets is sensible and a disaster if he or she is not.

Given that the targets at the moment include the obligation to make sure each three-year-old ‘understands that s/he can expect others to treat her or his needs, views, cultures and beliefs with respect’ and that the child ‘interacts with others, negotiating plans and taking turns in conversation’ (all things which it’s probably taken me more than 40 years to perfect) and given also that any child-minder actually has to fill in a form assessing this, one suspects that the target-setter might live in an ideal rather than a real world.

So let me get this straight. The good people in the Department for Children Schools and Families (sic), the DFES that was, are so concerned that their own needs, views, cultures and beliefs are respected they intend to make itcompulsory that our children have them rammed down their throats before they’ve even reached an age where they’re capable of understanding the concepts. Good one!

If we hadn’t come to expect this depressing lack of joined-up thinking from government, this would be so utterly crass as to defy belief, and takes “do as I say, not as I do” to new heights of insanity. Children, before they reach adulthood (by which time the education system has knocked all such sensible notions out of them), are programmed to learn by example. They do this unfailingly, no matter what you tell them.

So if our children are increasingly disrespectful and intolerant of each other, it’s plain there’s only one way they could possibly have learned this. Mandatory drilling of 3 year-olds will simply make the problem worse, not better.

As one respondent to the Observer article wrote

DCFS has an educational philosophy called EYFS, which requires every child in England to journey to London between Birth and 5 years. The EYFS requires each child to be assessed at 5 years to see how far s/he falls short of London. There are also detailed markers along the way, which can alert their Carers to a possible future failure to reach London by 5 years old. DCFS maintain that EYFS is flexible (you can go to London by any means of transport you like) and play-based (your play can be used to keep children on track for London), and not a curriculum (though any destination other than London is not possible) Any carer who has a different educational philosophy, such as one which sees it in a child’s best interest to spend the period from Birth to 5 years old in the countryside by the sea and go to London when they are 6/7 years old, arriving with inner self-confidence and emotional well-being, is acting illegally and Ofsted has the power to close their school/nursery/playgroup/private home. No parent has the right to choose a different journey or timescale from that prescribed by the DCFS for their child, except by keeping them at home from birth to 6/7 years old as there will be no providers allowed to cater to them. No other country in Europe has such a compulsory journey, nor such an assessment and testing regime to enforce it. Those countries which are free to arrive in London as late as 6/7 years old, are the most happy and secure in UNICEF’s 2007 study of 50+ countries.

The UK’s children scored as the least happy of all. I wonder why?

There is a petition for UK residents to sign here asking the government to reduce the compulsory status of the requirements to professional guidelines.

OpenDemocracy maintains a page cataloguing our loss of rights and civil liberties since 1997 here.

“The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed a standard citizenry, to put down dissent and originality.”
H L Mencken

Thanks to the current insanity revolving around homeopathy in this country, in both media and blogosphere, it's become necessary to insult your intelligence by explicitly drawing your attention to the obvious fact that any views or advice in this weblog/website are, unless stated otherwise, the opinions of the author alone and should not be taken as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. If you choose to take anything from here that might be construed as advice, you do so entirely under your own recognisance and responsibility.

smeddum.net - Blog: Confessions of a Serial Prover. Weblog on homeopathy, health and related subjects by homeopathic practitioner Wendy Howard