Blog : Posts tagged with 'teaching'



In which we discover a hidden talent

I was still thinking idly about teaching H how to drive, the other day, when Colleague K came down to Room 3B (The IT Office) and said: “FP, do you know algebra? Wee Dave said you would.”


“Well, it’s just that my daughter’s got her GCSEs coming up, and she’s stuck on algebra, and I don’t know how to do it so I can’t help her.”

So, I took half an hour out to scribble down some basics about solving linear and simple quadratic equations, the sort of thing I assume everyone knows anyway. Ten pages later I had some rough notes on algebra done, making it as simple as I could, trying to explain why it all works instead of just giving the textbook answer. And she seemed to like it.

“Wow, FP, this is really good! Even I can understand it! Did you really just do all this off the top of your head?”

“Erm, yes, it’s only what I remember from when I was at school myself.”

“You should go into teaching or something!”

Which I’m not going to do. You have to work with children, annoying children who don’t want to work with you and don’t want to listen to what you have to tell them. But it set me thinking: why don’t I put notes on that sort of thing up on here? How to solve GCSE maths problems, or how to drive a car, or program a computer; that sort of thing. I could call it The FP Lectures, or something like that. And they’d have all the obvious stuff that noone ever tells you, because, to people who know it already it’s as obvious as breathing, too obvious to be worth teaching.

The only problem, of course, is finding the energy to actually do it.

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In which we think we know how to drive

I seem to be becoming a worse driver.

This isn’t by my own judgement, but by the judgement of other people. Specifically, more and more people seem to have started beeping me for doing The Wrong Thing. I’m not sure what the problems are. I always signal, I travel at a reasonable speed,* I try to drive assertively and take up the appropriate space on the road. There’s nothing wrong with the car, so far as I can tell. So why have people decided to start beeping me all of a sudden?**

H, incidentally, has suggested I should teach her how to drive. And I realised, thinking about it, that I have no idea at all any more how to drive, or rather, how to explain how to drive. The manuals I assume say something like: “press gently with your right foot and at the same time lift your left foot up until you start to feel the clutch engage, then increase power whilst raising your left foot smoothly and releasing the handbrake”. If you drive, though, you don’t consciously do all that; you just wiggle your feet a bit and you’re away. I have no idea how I would go about explaining all the various simultaneous processes to someone, in a car without dual controls.

* usually at the speed limit. Honest, officer. Ahem.

** or wave their fist and shout “Wanker!” like the cyclist the other day. OK, I pulled out in front of him. It was thick fog, he was wearing dull clothing, and didn’t have any lights on his bike, so when I started moving I had no idea at all he was there. Tosser.

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The Expert

In which I provide blogging advice

A few weeks ago, after I’d just bought the hosting and domain name for this site, one of the friendlier managers at work came up to me in the office…

“FP, do you know much about website hosting?”

“Well, funny you should ask that, because…”

It was nothing to do with work at all; he’d decided he wanted to set up a family website, with a [surname].org address, to keep in touch with friends, family, and the distant relatives in Australia.* And I told him that I’d been looking into it, the prices I’d found, how much I’d paid, and so on.

This morning, he came up to me again:

“FP, I’ve bought some webspace from the same place that you did, and I was trying to work out how to put stuff on it. I was wondering … do you know anything about setting up a blog? I was looking at WordPress, and I was wondering if you knew much about it?”

“Well, funny you should ask that…”

So, it looks like – at least as far as this manager is concerned – I’m going to be the office WordPress expert in future, even though I only have a couple of weeks’ experience with it. Lucky for me that it’s easy to set up, I suppose.

* If you’re not British or Australian you might not know this, but everyone in Britain seems to have some distant relatives in Australia that they never get in touch with more than once per decade. I’ve got several separate lots, apparently. Presumably if you’re Australian than the reverse applies.

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