The Winter Olympics are now in full swing, and they bring an abundance of inspiring stories in the same way as the Summer Olympics of London 2012 did.
Much will be written about new Olympic champion Lizzy Yarnold over the coming months, and UK Sport will rightly see her as further evidence that theirTalent IDprogrammes such as Girls4Golddeliver tangible results. Such was her dominance of the women’s skeleton event ahead of Sochi 2014 that many (unreasonably) suggested that the result was never in doubt. Given the scarcity of Winter Olympic gold medals in the history of the GB team, it is surely only a matter of time before the tabloids dub her Lizzy Yarngold.
With only three weeks remaining of the well-worn 2012, our attention starts to turn towards the sleek and shiny new 2013. Full of possibilities, excitement, opportunities and challenges, it looms large on our horizon. For many it will be the start of something new; for others it will bring something to an end. One thing we can be sure of – uncertainty.
December is traditionally the time for setting New Year’s Resolutions – those promises we make to ourselves and others about what we’re going to do differently in the new year.
Before rushing to add “join the gym; eat less chocolate; drink less wine” to the list of resolutions, I would recommend reading this lovely poem by Nadine Stair (aged 85). More about its background here.
When I visited a secondary school last week and asked about how much work they do with computers, I was disappointed with the replies. All students up to Year 11 (aged 11-16) do several hours a week, but it is limited to using applications – creating posters, monitoring costs, writing newspaper articles. They use computers, but they don’t do any programming at all.
I was even a little surprised to hear that all pupils are taught how to type, since I would have expected that by the age of 11 most, if not all, would have proficient typing skills.
People go to university for a variety of reasons. One commonly-cited reason is that it helps get on the first rung of the jobs ladder – for many careers, a degree is a mandatory requirement. But why else?
During those few short years at university, a great deal of “growing up” often take place forming the transition from late-teenage years to early-adulthood and the first stages in becoming a “professional”. Some of that transition happens without any conscious effort. The most successful students take concrete steps to drive their development forward so that they’re ready-baked on graduation.
On 4th August 2012 Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins woke up as Olympic champions with gold medals reminding them that a day earlier they had won the final race in the Women’s Double Sculls at Dorney Lake. But now they felt empty, lost and on unfamiliar ground. For every day of the previous four years all their plans had been about working towards 3rd August 2012. Everything they did in training, every little detail they planned was all about delivering their best performance on that one occasion – the final – with no second chances. The only deliverable which mattered to them was a gold medal on 3rd August. All their plans ended on that date. It was as if 3rd August was the last day ever, and nothing existed after it.
It’s still only mid-September but I’ve already started to see signs up outside restaurants and hotels urging us to “Book now for Christmas“. Heck, just three weeks ago I was still enjoying my (late) summer holiday, and Christmas is nowhere near the top of my To Do List.
But this has reminded me of the cyclical nature of our calendar. As day follows night, and summer follows spring, so many of our schedules repeat annually if not more frequently.
As with so many great ideas, I am left wondering why nobody has though of this before. Its simplicity, sustainability and sheer elegance offers so much that it’s easy to fall into the trap of looking for the catch – there must be one, surely. But no. There’s no catch.
Surely we’ve learnt from history that it is utterly futile to resist advances in technology? Once something has been invented, it can’t be “un-invented”. Luddites haven’t historically delivered many long-term successes; they haven’t typically been a good investment.
Advances in technology often create new problems – sometimes unintended consequences; other times very much intended. Ultimately, it is the consequences which have to be addressed, rather than the technology itself. It therefore seems odd to methat so much energy is being expended in fighting the adoption of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) – which have been in the news again recently following the publication of anOpen Letterto Professor Michael Sandel from the Philosophy Department at San Jose State University.
Probably not a name familiar to most, Corning are a huge name in glass products. They deliver components to manufacturers of products which support our everyday lives including mobile phones, tablets, televisions and fibre-optic cables. I first came across them in the context of GorillaGlass for smartphones.
This visionary video shows their view of the future. It’s not all going to happen overnight, but it’s a glimpse of what is on the horizon.
As I wandered back home in the early Sunday evening following a lazy hour spent in the garden of the village pub, I passed several people walking dogs and a few children playing on bikes before I stumbled upon a frail old lady on a mobility scooter, walking her elderly dog.
I say “walking” – the scooter was barely moving over the uneven ground which led through the woods, and I was unsure whether it was the dog which was taking its owner for a gentle exercise or the other way round. It was certainly unclear who was taking the lead.
My initial reaction was one of surprise at the slightly incongruous sight, but only a few minutes later my mind had distilled out a few of the critical dependencies which appeared to be involved in that little excursion. Continue reading →