Thursday, 29 May 2014

Large Font

I'm taking today off. Instead, take this page of large font writing.

Large fonts are typically used by students to disguise the fact that they have not written much. It is a fairly common happening in a school situation where a teacher does not specify the font and font size of a piece of work.

Teachers rarely ever specify these things. Especially not supply teachers.

For schoolwork I almost always use size 12. Other students will amp this up to 14, 16 or even 18. And a paragraph in size 12 looks diminished compared to these larger fonts so it will look as if I've done less.

And so about 1,500 words looks like just a 'beginning' to the work (that might be wanting about 4,000 words - and boy will they be shocked when you say this!) - the teacher is used to size 14. Two and a bit pages in 12 pt Times New Roman turns into 3 and a half pages of 14 pt Verdana (16 pt goes to 4 and a half). A significant difference.

So, teachers, make your text fonts standard. Before you really annoy someone.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

A Question Of PE

Physical Education: welcome to the most trialing lesson there is.

Stick a load of 9 year olds together and get two of them to pick people in their class to be on their teams. What happens?

Well, somebody's got to be always last.

Get those teams to play football. What happens? Miss Always-picked-last is enthusiastic and wants to be part of it. Trouble is, she can't even kick the ball right, let alone pass it to someone else on her team, so she's usually left out of the action.

Try some rounders instead. What happens? Miss Always-picked-last rarely gets the chance to bat because of the sheer number of people on her team. She always misses anyway and she's slow around the posts so it doesn't really matter. And on field, her catching is mediocre and her throwing at the same level.

Okay, ditch the teams. Move onto badminton. Try a rally like this one:

Try it without any instruction on serving. What happens? Miss Always-picked-last misses the shuttlecock and then fails on serving several times before passing the shuttlecock over the net to the next person by hand, causing her enough embarrassment that would make her give up on sport if her unrealistically optimistic enthusiasm never got in the way.

The result of all this? One halfway-good game of cricket makes her think that she must be brilliant at this despite having played before with little success, and this leads her to give up time every week to go to an arranged group that was really supposed to be for people who were decent at this game. And then get disparaged when she found she wasn't all that good. Tch.

Cue high school. A larger range of activities, proper instruction in lessons, more time devoted to the skills in each sport rather than just playing it. And when they did play it, it was more common that the teachers did the team organizing themselves rather than letting two kids pick their groups. There were also a lot more times where teams weren't needed in the first place. It was better all around, and Miss Always-picked-last even spent time going to sporty clubs in her second year of high school (Dance, Trampolining, and Badminton). She had far more realistic expectations of her own abilities and could enjoy these activities as they stood.

The problem is, loads of schools don't have the space to host varying activities. Loads of schools don't have the equipment to bring a variety of both team and individual sports to the table of PE so that kids who have difficulties with the mainstream sports (which almost always are team sports and rely on the kid's classmates to be fair - which will never happen) can find something that they enjoy. PE as a lesson is often tailored for the kids who already are playing footie at the bottom of the playground, and doing extra activities, rather than those who don't do much extra. And a good proportion of those who don't do extra activities are driven in to school and spend their free time on video games and watching TV (or just sitting/standing around in the playground at school). And the other proportion are klutzes like me who do get exercise but who don't particularly perform well in sports for various reasons, and plenty of them are not impervious to that fact.

We have a problem with obesity at this very moment - and it's in kids as well as adults. And the answer to getting more kids to exercise, unfortunately, is not more PE, in the current state of the subject. It's better PE, and a change in parental attitude as well. Better PE means doing a variety of activities that will get kids interested and engaged, and will help less sporty kids find an activity they well may like. Not everything can be done in a school, of course, but you can be creative with the supplies you have, and focus on the techniques of each sport you can accommodate for. And finding an enthusiasm for a sport can lead to the kid going to extra activities. And the change in parental attitude? Walk the kids to school, don't drive them. (or in the case of high school pupils, let them walk by themselves) If this is an impossibility due to practical reasons (the school's more than a 45 minute walk away), then take a walk with the kids at some point every day, even if it's just 10 minutes. Get into the habit of walking daily, and the kids will too.

After all, a little exercise goes a long way.

Thursday, 15 May 2014


It is not uncommon for me to have a notebook with me. It's a space I can write, doodle, list things freely, without commenting.

I have my current notebook with me at the moment, so I'm obviously going to explore it.

I bought it about a year ago. It has a translucent, stripey cover to it, and through it you can clearly read what I wrote on the pages on the outside (which were the only unlined pages and probably were supposed to remain blank, but never mind). My name and ID number are clearly visible on the front page, as is my blog address and my doodles. Also, the words "Don't Panic!" and underneath, in brackets, 'large, friendly letters.'

On the other side of the blank page is a false copyright (is that bad?) and a warning.

Because it's not 'actually' copyrighted, if you dare attempt to steal my ideas, you pulchritudinous pig, then the spiders will get you. (Unless you've got a cat. Then the cat will be reprogrammed and then the spiders will get you)
Underneath this, two spiders. That'll stop them, I'm sure.

And then, the first page has stolen words on it.

Up next, story planning. Thoughts about characters I'd made up, the children of characters well-established in another series of books. Or grandchildren, or those who know these children and grandchildren. And then, three word definitions. Then, a small excerpt of an alternate universe to a book series. A doodle. And then a lot of crossed-out arithmetic. And then, a load of website recommendations, with this blog at the top. In fact, this notebook gets a lot of mentions of my blog. Like it's "Minim's Pad, Part 2" or something.

And here at the end of a list of things to Google, it says 'and anything else you want to google.' Well, that's something to do.

Names list comes next (oh, look, what a surprise...), and doodles and randomness again fill the day. Including doodles like this:

Another quote: "For shameless self promotion I will write again and again and again."

Next, some notes I have on a game I don't have any more, some green writing that is slightly morbid, then some writing in various random colours. Then a 'page for penning' which does not have all that much 'penning' on it. Then a page on xkcd (Because when it's not self-promotion it's promotion of xkcd *sigh*) and then more names because a minim notebook without names lists is a minim notebook without names lists. One was started on 2013-06-10. I know because it tells me what yesterday's date was. The next page boldly starts "Project Proposal" but it's only a note as to who to send it to. And at that point I had little idea what problems said 'project' might hold and I was all for it.

The next several pages contain comics. One of a coach journey has various people talking, and one of them is saying "Help. This chair was drawn incorrectly." Little follow up:

After the comics, this little bit of weirdness:

if newYear = 1:
    print("Happy New Year!")
elif newYear > 1:
    print("What the hell?!")
    print("You can't restart your life today.")

More randomness follows, with a boast of "I have a left-handed ruler." Guess what I had just received? Then, more comics.

Later, a book list that started off well but never got past one book. And then, in response to the advert that came out after the National Lottery decided to raise the price of a ticket to £2 rather than the £1 it was at:

We're justifying
The rise in pricing
To those who're buying
on Saturday.

This is just under a doodle of house roofs. Not long after, there is a rant. I was trying to sum up why I want to Maths at university:

-logical and systematic and beautiful.
-Other than that I have no fucking idea. I just like it?

Later on, I also mention that I have "very good procrastination skills." I was trying to do points for my personal statement, but at the time I was so frustrated with it because I had little idea about myself, and you need a good idea of yourself to write a personal statement.

A story in fragmented lines. And then some joking around with questions from lessons.

Explain why the electric field strengths at two points, A and B, the same distance from a positive point charge, are not identical.

My answer? No.

Also, thou shall not post the flashy .gif without warning people first. I will not post the flashiness, this commandment is from one of my many ramblings about the xkcd comic Time and its dedicated thread.

Just remember, folks:

In a world of DARKNESS...
...there is a light.
Damn it, where's the switch?

Thursday, 8 May 2014

The Horrors of Groupwork

One of the worst things to hear in a classroom is "I'm going to put you into groups," or the even worse one "Get yourselves into groups." From the exact second this is uttered, you know you are doomed, and nothing will save you now!

The first nightmare is the one of knowing who your teammates will be. If it's a "get yourselves into groups" situation, this becomes the most embarrassing and awkward situation ever. You had to drum up the courage to actually ask somebody, and if they rejected you for having the amount of people needed already, it would be even harder to approach the next person - you would go by familiarity with the person, with the most familiar person first.

What's worse: The teacher calling the class out on it, citing it as bullying that you're left out, while all the time you just want to hide in the corner, and you're wondering how it is bullying exactly because you're sure that you've had plenty of worse problems with people and most of the time you're happy to work by yourself anyway.

And working by yourself is what happens when you end up in a group who just want to chat about films all of the time and not do any work. In these cases, where the work can be done by one person, it invariably will be. Where you need the group to work (like if you're mostly observing them so that you can light them up appropriately later), but you're the kind of girl who has a problem just asking someone a simple question (see above), this is definitely not going to work for you. Ever.

And what is also not going to work for you is where the group is actually a decent one, but the person taking leadership is pressing everyone else for ideas and saying that they're doing all of the hard work. Instant guilt trip for the person whose social inadeptness (is that a word? Well, all words are made up, and so are the rules surrounding them, so why do I need to care?) obscures their path into suggesting an idea they are unsure of anyway, and actually makes them less likely to say anything.

In summary: Groupwork doesn't teach you anything that teachers want you to learn. Also, you don't want to work with the person who is always distracted by people in other groups talking to her, and invariably ends up in arguments because her interpretations of social interactions is on the plane r.(3i+2j+k)=13 whereas most people's social plane is r.(2i-j+4k)=-6.

So, kids, be glad you're not working with me.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

An Accurate Portrayal of My Thoughts and Feelings in Lessons

Ahh, lessons. The times where you were made to do whatever was planned by the teacher, or else manage while chaos reigned. So, let's get on with today's class, shall we? This is my teacher voice.


Year 4: "Fractions fractions fractions! I LOVE fractions!"

Year 8: "Those two boys I have to sit in between are both jerks and I don't know why they have to bother me all the time,"

Year 9: "My teacher is just fantastic!"

Year 10: *helps Year 11s*

Year 11: "Cool, I got an A. What, one mark off A*? Damn!" *one re-mark later* "Yay, A*! Now all I have to do is try and ignore all of the people in my class and do something productive, even when they're right up in my face!


Year 1: "Seriously? It's like I can't read! This is so dull."

Year 3: "I before e except after c," "How does the 'i before e' rule explain the word science?" "Oh no, that's different!"

Year 5: "Yay, stories!"

Year 7: "They've got me down as a 4b, but I thought I was a level 5..."

GCSE: "This class is a nightmare! Get me away from (some of) these people!"

AS-Level: "Ahh, this is real English Language,"


Primary school: "Yay, experiments!"

Years 7+: "Not experiments!"


Year 5: "I want to learn about World War Two," *looks at it on the internet*

Year 6: "I want to learn about World War Two," *looks on the internet*

Repeat until

Year 9: "Yay, World War Two!"

Year 10: "I guess this stuff is interesting,"

Year 11: "Yay, stuff relevant to World War Two!"


Year 5: "This compass is not working." "That must be the broken one." "This map is not working."

Year 9: "Why are we doing this stuff that isn't even Geography? What is this stuff? Economics?"


Year 7: "I'm not too bad at this stuff, but why do I have to share a class with these people?"

Year 10: "All this work, ugh,"

And that's all the time we have today, kids! Remember to do your homework!