medium and message

This picture of a quilt, where someone had sewn together a representation of graphs of temperature data and UK COVID deaths reminded me of the way that the chosen medium influences the nature of a conversation.

data quilt

In a lot of recent online debate, I’ve seen people talk past each other, spurred on by the nature of the platform they’re using. When you’re using a free platform to have your conversation, and that platform is trying to maximise time-on-site by stirring up conflict so it can sell ever-more-targeted advertising, you might be choosing a particular path for a conversation to take.

If you were seeking to resolve a conflict between two close friends, you would not have them stand in the middle of a town square, using megaphones. The choice of medium matters.

working from near home

Sydney is again in lock-down (or as we’re calling it, a stay-at-home order), so this article on working from near home by Cal Newport is a little further in the future. After over a year of working mostly outside the office, if anything, it has brought me greater appreciation of the workspaces that I’ve had access to in the past few years. And yet, there’s a lot of benefit to the time saved from not commuting.

explaining finances

I presented the treasurer’s report at our church congregational meeting. When I do one of these, I try to explain the standard documents so that people can read the reports and make sense of them.

I’ve tried a couple of times now, and what I find works is to help people zoom out and see the whole table of numbers, then understand what they’re looking at by using coloured rectangles to show the difference between income and expenses, budget and actuals, variance, and then between assets and liabilities.

You can then quickly show the relationship between a profit and loss, budget vs actuals, and the balance sheet, and how they all fit together.

It’s a simple technique, but I think it’s a powerful one.

how kids learn

An article came across my desk today about how children learn at different ages, citing work by Egan (1997); from somatic (age 2) to mythic (age 5-10) to romantic (age 10-15) to philosophical (15-20) to ironic (21+). I’ve really enjoyed the kind of reflective learning that my current course of study has put me through, so I’m enjoying thinking through the learning process at these different developmental stages as well.

Related is this reflection on group work in a classroom context.

In our observations collaboration is often undertaken without teacher input, and against their expressed expectation that students complete the task ‘on their own’.  The irony is that you can ask the teacher for help, but you are not to ask the student beside you for advice.

We know the following to be myths:
• That students learn best when a teacher instructs.
• That student collaboration inevitably slows ‘coverage’ down.
• That practice tests are the key to better exam performance.

I realised that I don’t have much of a sense of the progress of ideas around what constitutes best practice in the classroom as ideas on teaching and learning continue to evolve: is there a parent-level set of resources out there?