Brie Tish

That’s what they shouted at me today as I was on my way to the market in Tala:
“Brie-tish, brie-tish!”. Or was it “Bree-tish”, or possibly “camambert”? That bike draws attention.

Erm what bike?

Hang on, Ill see if I can upload the pic.
(the pic is very large so I have move it to the “more…” section.)

Now, back at the screen and suffering from a terrible stiff neck on the right side which I have started to think — after Denise asked me what I have been doing different lately — might be from sitting at the computer all day using the mouse with my righ hand on a really low chair. Its not uncomfortable as such, but its a million miles away from those ergonomic safety posters we had all over Imperial.

So, how did the Javascript workshop go on Saturday?…

I was so busy I didn’t have time to write an update here on the day. I stayed in the lab with the girls for four hours from 10 o’clock. Which wasn’t smart. I think we’d all have done better with a few breaks. And my shoulder was so flippin’ sore I couldnt raise my hand to write on the whiteboard.

As I see it, these girls don’t know how to program. I was sort-of taking it as read that they could since they have done C and Java courses in previous stages of their course. But I also had a sneaky suspicion that they might not have grasped the principles. The truth is worse than I feared. Many of them dont know what a variable is. But Im not as panicked about this as I might be back home. The reason seems to be largely that the teaching is centred around reciting ‘correct answers’ to questions, and of course the exams are arranged in a similar way. Sadly we cannot predict the questions and offer the girls the appropriate solutions dressed up with a few other bits and bobs to make it look like we’re not givng them the answers when we really are. This is, I think, what happens at the University where the exam is written. And it happens in a lot of schools and colleges in the UK too. But because we are a franchise college we dont have that luxury. So I have been trying to prepare the girls by giving them the principles. And of course programming is one of those. Its a sort of pre-requisite for this Javascript module. The syntax probelms are frightnening. JS Programmers have to embed the syntax of Javascript inside the syntax of HTML. They have to watch out for using single and double quotes because of this nesting. Its frightful. If, on top of that, the programmer in question doesn’t know what a variable is, the best she can do is type (I’m thinking, here, of Truman Capote on Jack Kerouac).

They worked hard on their individual assignments. I am so impressed by their attitude. They will try it on as much as they think they can get away with, but they do also try when the chips are down. the amount of sheer effort I have seen is worth rewarding. I hope they pass their exams. I can **see** the good this workshop has done them. I don’t feel it’s prepared them adequately for the exam, but neither do I feel guilty that I have done, somehow, the wrong thing by trying to stretch them and by favouring principles over the ‘correct’ answers to unknown questions. That’s because I’m still naive enogh to believe in education over qualification (someone remind me I said this if/when my externals come back and ask for more changes to my PhD thesis ).

Here’s the bike pic:
Bike (90k image)

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