Chicks in Skimpy Armour

Filed under: — Bravus @ 11:58 am

(title is *ironic*, yo)

Very cool: http://io9.com/what-happens-when-female-fantasy-adventurers-read-comic-458623766?utm_source=gawker.com&utm_medium=recirculation&utm_campaign=recirculation


I Don’t Really Want To Talk About Rape

Filed under: — Bravus @ 6:55 pm

…but I think we need to. It’s in the international zeitgeist a bit, between the Steubenville case in the US (which this link is all about) and a second very nasty gang-rape in India.

This post does a great job on discussing alcohol (other kinds of impairments are left as an exercise for the reader) and consent in a frank and clear way: http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/2013/03/19/steubenville-consent-alcohol-and-me-my-stories-of-sexual-non-quest/

Fear and loathing and hatred of women by men who perceive themselves to be powerless seems to be an underlying theme. It’s not mainly about women being, looking or dressing sexy – except in the sense that men may therefore feel as though those women are or ought to be their property. They aren’t, they are their own. It shouldn’t need saying, but apparently it does.


Teaching Climate Change and ‘Open’ Curricula

Filed under: — Bravus @ 10:14 am

I’ve made the argument before that the more open and less prescriptive the curriculum, the more scope for great teachers to do great things, but also the more scope for poor teachers to offer less-than-ideal education. Conversely, a tighter curriculum tends to clip the wings of excellent teachers, while offering some protection to the students of less-skilled teachers. It’s a necessary trade-off.

(Of course, we’d all prefer that all teachers were excellent, and are working toward that ideal, but in the mean time…)

This article from The Guardian does a nice job of exploring some of these issues in relation to climate change in the draft UK National Curriculum: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/political-science/2013/mar/19/science-policy?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=pulsenews

Edit: Space for discussion here: http://www.bravus.com.au/tribes/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=2085&p=2451#p2451

Best Use of Housepaint

Filed under: — Bravus @ 8:38 am

Fight bigotry with beauty.



Excellent Article on the Relationship of Science and Philosophy

Filed under: — Bravus @ 3:01 pm

It’s a question that has arisen recently, unfortunately not in terribly sophisticated ways, in Facebook and blogs and so on.

This article does a very nice job: http://philosophynow.org/issues/46/Newtons_Flaming_Laser_Sword


[Open] Keeping Up

Filed under: — Bravus @ 7:37 am

The busy-ness has been intense… many hours in the office both days this weekend, though done either early or late to spend some time with the family as well.

Have to admit I’ve done less here on the blog about my teaching than I’d hoped, but between discussions on the Open Forum (which is starting to take off a bit more now, thanks to my relentless hammering away and Crank’s faithful posting) and just preparing and doing everything else on my plate, there hasn’t been a lot of time.

The other thing is that the ideas tend to go into the forum… but I will try to write something here in the next day or so about the experiment as a whole.

Other than that, I’ll keep pedaling madly!


A Weak Echo

Filed under: — Bravus @ 6:58 am

Got an email over night from a kind gentleman in the Netherlands who said he had read and found interesting a paper of mine called ‘The strength of the weak’.

I vaguely remembered writing it, as an assignment in my undergraduate/postgraduate studies at UQ, but was surprised that anyone but my lecturer had seen it.

Had a quick Google, and sure enough I’d popped it on my web server, probably just for my own purposes, or maybe to talk about it here, and Google’s bots had made it findable.

So here it is, in case anyone else might find it interesting: http://www.bravus.com.au/weakmeasure.pdf


Parenting: ur hackin’ it right

Filed under: — Bravus @ 7:07 pm

Why does Mario always have to save Pauline? How about the other way around sometimes?



[Open] What It Sounds Like When I Lecture

Filed under: — Bravus @ 5:15 pm

My lectures are all recorded, but they’re on the closed and locked university web site.

I’m not vain enough to think anyone else would be keen to listen to them in full anyway, but thought you might be intrigued to hear a small sample. This class has about 99 students in it.

This is a bit over 3 minutes near the start of the lecture in Week 2, and the file size is about 2.1 MB.


(I should probably note that this has been compressed by the university’s recording system and then again when I converted it to mp3, so the sound quality in the actual lecture theatre is a lot better than this.)


Early Metallica Week

Filed under: — Bravus @ 10:13 pm

Loading up my phone/music player with the first 4 (proper, non-EP or compilation) Metallica albums, this week.

Was listening to ‘Death Magnetic’ last night, and while it’s a lot less worser than ‘St Anger’, it doesn’t really come close to the glory days.

I’m not typically that ‘I like their old stuff better’ type of purist, but Metallica as a band for some reason seem to have gone further and faster off the rails than most.

(I may have aired before my private theory that they heard the groove of Alice in Chains and decided they wanted to *be* Alice in Chains – but that meant they lost their one pure asset: machine-like down-picked riffing. And no-one else is ever going to be Alice in Chains.)

So it’s ‘Kill ‘Em All’, ‘Ride The Lightning’, ‘Master of Puppets’ and ‘…And Justice For All’ for me this week.

Can’t wait.

And While We’re On Economics – Wealth (In)Equity in America

Filed under: — Bravus @ 12:30 pm

(and some pretty cool infographics work along the way)


I think the situation is less extreme in Australia, but the tendency is very much in the same direction.

I’m with Bob

Filed under: — Bravus @ 8:27 am

Check out this Facebook post from Robert Reich, on ‘austerity’ and ‘trickle-down’:


I’ll also post his followup tomorrow.


[Open] Introducing the Middle Years Science Course

Filed under: — Bravus @ 4:49 pm

The first lecture was a bit… intense. Lots of introductory stuff that I felt we needed in place to be able to get started in the course, in the first tutes and so on.

The hassle of Week One is that you have to do the tedious class profile stuff. I prefer not to start with that, though: I want to give the class a taste of what the course will actually be like! I hope the teaching isn’t going to be tedious document-reading!

So I took a ball along, threw it around the room a bit, and we talked about how we might describe movement. Used the whiteboard for some diagrams and some (very messy and disorganised, in this instance) brainstorming with the group. No PowerPoint, no course profile (yet).

Part of the challenge for this course is ensuring that students have a strong (as strong as possible) background in the relevant science content for teaching middle years1. For today we were talking about forces and motion. At this level it’s qualitative rather than quantitative, so no formulae and calculations. We just needed everyone to understand concepts like distance, displacement, speed, velocity, acceleration, force, gravity, air resistance, buoyancy and so on.

Participants are all admitted to the course on the basis that they have graduated from a science degree (this is a 1 year Graduate Diploma of Education), but of course that is across a range of disciplines – biology, chemistry, physics, earth and space science and engineering – and middle school teachers have to teach all science topics. For some, the science degrees are also some time ago – and the details of science tend to be a bit ‘use it or lose it’. So everyone needs to have a broad, current knowledge – and we only have a little time.

Once we’d spent some time talking about that, we talked a bit about the definition of middle years, and then did a bit of the course profile stuff: when the assignments are, what they are and so on. I also shared the expectations stuff that I posted here a while ago.

I planned a bit more stuff, but time kind of ran away with us. We started with ‘what is science?’ Defining our terms, recognising that science is a complex thing and a definition requires at least 4 elements. (hey, if you go for a dig, I may even have posted them here at some point!) There’s more discussion to be had there, though, which will be continued in the coming week… and we didn’t even get a start in inquiry learning.

I hope people weren’t scared off by the pace. The challenge with the science content stuff is it’s tough to do it that fast for people who are unfamiliar, but probably a bit boring for people who are… striking that balance can be tricky, but I think it’s a worthwhile thing. Then there’s the stuff about teaching science.

Lots to do and not a lot of time… and I do try to make it interactive when I can. In this instance the ball-throwing discussion drew from the class although I led it, and there were a couple of instances in which people were asked to discuss things with the people around them and report back to the whole group. I got one student to take the report back and record it on the board, a strategy I often use. It was still more ‘lecture-y’ than I really like, and I’ll focus on making it more varied as we go along.

  1. Which roughly means Years 6-9, though it’s more complex than that – more in the post about the Teaching Middle Years Course. We’re also talking a bit about Year 10.

“…how about some respect for people and their beliefs”

Filed under: — Bravus @ 9:17 am

Wrote someone on Facebook. I responded:

Respect for people, absolutely. Respect for beliefs, on the other hand, means *not* holding them inviolate and untouchable, but taking them seriously enough to apply careful critical thinking to them. Certainly, to our own beliefs first, but to the beliefs of others too, especially when those beliefs have real and tangible effects on the lives of people who don’t hold them.


With no policy, all that’s left seems to be xenophobia

Filed under: — Bravus @ 8:23 pm


Convenient Samples vs Generalisability

Filed under: — Bravus @ 6:26 am

Surprisingly, undergrads in psych courses in developed countries are not a sample that is representative (i.e. randomly chosen from) the entirety of humanity. You’d be surprised how many of psychology’s claims this renders invalid when broadly applied.


You’d think the psychs would have a handle on this stuff…