All 16 entries tagged Education

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July 03, 2008

Without practice

Why practice makes perfect?

“Without constant practice, the officers will be nervous and undecided when mustering for battle; without constant practice, the general will be wavering and irresolute when the crisis is at hand.”

Translation of the Art of War

An old view on 'Planning'

He taught that strategy was not planning in the sense of working through a to-do list, but rather that it requires quick and appropriate responses to changing conditions. Planning works in a controlled but competitive environment, and competing plans collide, creating situations that no one planned for.

I feel I agree with this view of strategy and planning more than with the view of planning as a “to do list” that usually stresses me out. I like planning and having two (or more?) possible routes of action. That is good planning and it allows for consideration of the things that can happen.

The Art of war summary

There is no free lunch

Follow-up to The World Is Flat from Ross' Blog

One of the few things I remember from a dreaded Macroeconomics class in a university module is that “there is no free lunch”, I think he meant that is there is always a cost involved in doing things.

I wouldn’t like to think that he meant that all situations are win-lose, but that there is a cost that sometimes can’t be explained straightaway or is hidden (I am sure that others may be able to come with better explanations and definitions, but I feel mine is good enough).

I remembered that there is no free lunch while I was reading this review of the book “the World id flat” when the reviewer is giving a definition of “flattening”

The ‘flattening’ the author is referring to is the recent removal or destruction of barriers that have kept diverse parties from completely and easily interacting or exchanging information with one another.

Although I found that this definition explains well what is meant by the author, I wonder whether other words could be used rather than these as the use of words like “removal” and “destruction” worry me as in economics it is known that “there is no free lunch”, as these things are not going to happen for free.

I feel also that this shows a negative perspective, I think the term “flattener” that Friedman uses is much more positive and it focuses on the consequences of the “change”. e.g. ipods. However if some changes are making the world flatter, there should be positive and negative consequences. From what I read in the review Friedman only focuses on the positive.


June 23, 2008

I got the answer I was looking for

Follow-up to The World Is Flat from Ross' Blog

My bottom line is this: Open-source is an important flattener because it makes available for free many tools, from software to encyclopedias, that millions of people around the world would have had to buy in order to use, and because open-source network associations- with their open borders and come-one-come-all approach- can challenge hierarchical structures with a horizontal model of innovation that is clearly working in a growing number of areas. Apache and Linux have each helped to drive down costs of computing and Internet usage in way that are rofoundly flattening. This movement is not going away. Indeed, it may just be getting started- with a huge, growing appetite that could apply to many industries. As The Economist mused (June 19, 2004), “some zealots even argue that the open-source approach represents a new, post-capitalist model of production.” (Friedman, pp. 102-103)

I think this is a flattener that focuses on geeks or IT engineers, I dont mean it in a negative way. It is great that people develop programmes, I agree this is the beginning for them but I think the majority of us uses the information from the web and maybe publishes. The level Friedman is referring to (I undertand where he is coming from as I have an encounter with forums and chat when I was younger that have influenced the way I think about this) seems to be very advanced yet. That may be very applicable in the States or here amongst the group of software developers.


The World Is Flat

Writing about web page

I have just read in a blog (Doctor Bonk) a bit about a book “The World is Flat” and I found interesting how those ideas relate to education. I did google the book and found this in wikipedia. I may get the book from the library. Friedman defined some “flatteners” and according to him these are leveling the world, from a business perspective. However here I have got the flatteners that I feel have some repercussions in education.

2: Netscape: Netscape and the Web broadened the audience for the Internet from its roots as a communications medium used primarily by ‘early adopters and geeks’ to something that made the Internet accessible to everyone from five-year-olds to ninety-five-year olds. (8/9/1995). The digitization that took place meant that everyday occurrences such as words, files, films, music and pictures could be accessed and manipulated on a computer screen by all people across the world.

Here there are many points, for example, there is a change in the meaning of “geek”. In my words, before it was someone who uses pcs, now it is someone who builds pcs. The fact that more children who have access to pcs are using them may bring some changes as well. This brought the discourse on “digital natives” and et. however, it is not possible to generalise yet. Not everybody is into pcs. It doesnt depend on age.

Finally, I have heard about a project a at national level focused on digitalising doctoral thesis. This is obviously very good for PhD students. Especially because it breaks the barriers and thesis from other universities across the UK can be accessed. At a local level, this has happened at the institute where upgrade papers are online on the web so PhD students have useful samples for their upgrade.

4: Open sourcing: Communities uploading and collaborating on online projects. Examples include open source software, blogs, and Wikipedia. Friedman considers the phenomenon “the most disruptive force of all.”

I would like to know why Friedman thinks that this is the most disruptive force of all. I dont think we are there yet, this may be the case in the United States but it is not happening here in the UK yet. I may have to borrow the book after all.

6: Offshoring: Outsourcing to another country or even another continent.

Phd students may be considered in business or economical terms as goods that can be taken to other countries with a need for what they are capable of doing.

9: In-forming: Google and other search engines are the prime example. “Never before in the history of the planet have so many people-on their own-had the ability to find so much information about so many things and about so many other people”, writes Friedman. The growth of search engines is tremendous; for example take Google, in which Friedman states that it is “now processing roughly one billion searches per day, up from 150 million just three years ago”.

This is what I consider is the most disruptive force in the UK at least, I think I agree with part of the criticisms about the book, Friedman has obviusly written from his perspective of American (?) and his context (New York). I agree with the comment that his book may not be inclusive. However it is nice to think that communities (all kinds of them) will have a place here in the future.

10: “The Steroids”: Personal digital devices like mobile phones, iPods, personal digital assistants, instant messaging, and voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

I wonder why he calls all these ICT developments “steroids”. Interesting. Is it because they surprise us and we dont know where they are coming from? Is it because they come in groups?

October 15, 2007

why following random ways is good for you

Just would like to reflect about and to share briefly an experience I had recently

I signed up to receive those online services you might have heard of “quote of the day” and “word of the day” (you may see it on the left hand side of this blog)

I received them daily and directly to my blog. Sometimes I forget completely about them so for me it is good to have them handy on the web as they are the blog, I remember to look at them occassionally

Recently I had a quick look and found out about the prince of paradox, Chesterton, an Englishman whose work is underrated to say the least.

Apparently he has inspired many big political figures around the word, Gandhi for example

Anyway I wont go into the reasons underlying why his work is underrated and maybe forgotten by the majority. I would like to highlight however that it is quite rare and unique to find an author like him.

This experience seems to be everywhere and to be shared by lots of people, for example, in facebook, just search for “Chesterton” and you will know what I am talking about

The Americans appreciate what is good and there is an American Society of Chesterton, so if they are doing something about it, there must be some good financial reason behind this. Just google “Chesterton” and you will see.

Finding a book or an author that inspires you during your PhD or any research you are carrying out is really a precious gift.

I got a book of him from the internet, I enjoyed reading and think it may be useful for my doctorate studies.

This is just an example of why following random ways can be good for you, you will never know where it would take you unless you try…

October 08, 2007

Working together

Writing about web page

Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success. —Henry Ford

This is so true and hard to achieve, realistically. However the way this quote is written is makes you feel that it is achievable and I like it for this reason. This is a strong quotation and there is a positive feeling around these few words.

October 06, 2007

Cynical view on education by the prince of paradox

Education is the period during which you are being instructed by somebody you do not know, about something you do not want to know.

Gilbert Chesterton (1874-1936)

I don’t know about the rest, but I have just some flashbacks of my childhood and teen years in school.

Where are eleven years of my life gone?

April 22, 2007

Happiness and PhD?

Writing about web page,8599,1606395,00.html

Comment about "Getting Serious About Happiness" (my motto: "don't be a zombie")

This article is about a PhD study on happiness, in the article the title is longer but in essence it is about happiness.

I found this title so ironic at the beginning, as I thought that "happiness" and "PhD" could not be in the same statement in a positive relationship. Anyway, it makes sense that people ought to spend time researching the subject. At the end of the day that is what everybody is looking for in life, more or less. However, the search for happiness is not that easy. Some of us might be too lazy, slow, scared to be happy. I have been lazy, slow and scared to be happy sometimes, I hope not most of the time. I reckon this might not be an uncommon thing. There thus is a wake up call for some who might be living their lives likes the zombies (trying to eat people) like the ones from those films we see these days. I hope to be brave enough to dare to be happy now while I am doing my PhD.

Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced Chick-Sent-Me-High-ee according to the article) has three suggestions. Let's see if being reflective a bit will bring us a bit of happiness in return. I feel I can say something about it.

Be attuned to what gives you genuine satisfaction. Although many people assume that popular activities like watching TV are enjoyable, their own reports generally indicate that they feel more engaged, energetic, satisfied and happy when doing other things.

Nice one. A quick reaction is that sometimes what makes us happy is not sometimes entirely healthy or good for us, so one might end up being happy but dead or with a high cholesterol or with a heart attack (I see myself eating lots of chocolate or pasta with mozzarella - not at the same time though). However, this tip makes sense. Being aware of what makes us happy is the beginning. Although we might not be able to do something straightaway. I feel I would rather realise what makes me happy and try to create the situation to actually make it happen (even if I fail), than not haven realised at all.

Study yourself. To better understand their own happiness, Csikszentmihalyi says, people should systematically record their activities and feelings every few hours for a week or two. In recording your observations, try to focus on how you actually feel, rather than what you think you ought to be feeling or what you expect to feel. Afterwards, note the high points, particularly, and the low ones. Then try to adjust how you spend time according to your findings.

Good one. I see here a thing in common with the PhD process, as we hopefully should be learning bits about ourselves while we are undertaking the PhD. I reckon it is also life that gives us some hints if we are fast or clever enough to realise. It may require us to be the sort of people who actually learn from the experience -promptly (ours or somebody else's). However, I would go further and say (if possible) "learn about yourself", so much reflection without action takes me nowhere or takes me somewhere but late. However, this is easier to say or to write about than to actually do it.

Take control. Repairing unhappy conditions requires active effort. People often assume external conditions will change for the better or let chance determine their response. That's a mistake. "Get control," Csikszentmihalyi says. When things aren't right, "you have to put in the same effort you would if your business were in trouble. Just as markets move, life changes too."

Tough one. I experienced this not a while ago, when I had to give up a job, it wasn't easy. I needed to be brave enough to face people and more importantly to face myself everyday after that. I am sure I learned painful but useful lessons from the whole experience. However, it was a difficult period and time likes that would certainly affects us somehow. Maybe it will touch our confidence or determination, but I reckon if whatever action was really necessary or important it will bring us something positive at the end.

April 12, 2007

Wilfing the net

Writing about web page,,2053536,00.html

I finally found out what was happening to me. I suffer from the “what was I looking for” syndrome; which normally happens to me in real life and now it is also happening in my virtual life.

There were some symptoms, for example, when I was surfing in amazon (not the amazon) and I was looking for some books, I suddenly realised I have derived off the target and I found myself looking for some movies and books I do not want to buy…

And I thought I was being fickle or avoiding the task, maybe I was, however, suddenly it seems to be everywhere. Focus. It is not good for studies. I am telling myself, sometimes not succesfully. Maybe most of the time.

Wilfing is not in the dictionary yet, not in the online one anyway, I reckon it will be soon. I found “wolfing” meaning “to eat a large amount of food very quickly”. Virtually speaking, “wilfing” may have a similar meaning which would be “to eat visually a large amount of information very quickly, without digesting”.


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