Thursday, 30 August 2012

Stephen Hawking's Paralympic Wisdom

Three great quotes I picked up from Stephen Hawking at last night's Paralympic Games opening ceremony: 

“Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.”

“There ought to be something very special about the boundary conditions of the universe, and what can be more special than that is there is no boundary… And there should be no boundary to human endeavour.”

"We are all different, there is no such thing as a standard or run-of-the-mill human being, but we share the same human spirit. What is important is that we have the ability to create… This creativity can take many forms, from physical achievement to theoretical physics… However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.”

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Contact Form - Please Read

It's come to my attention that the previous contact form installed on the site, from Kontactr, was not transmitting the sender's email address. I have now installed a different contact form from EmailMeForm which should be more reliable.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Meet the Superhumans, part 2

Following on from my last post, I think this is a great ad campaign ahead of the Paralympic Games and for disability awareness in general. These are currently posted all over the UK (or at least on the long, drawn-out route between Gatwick and Manchester!).

Saturday, 25 August 2012


I've now returned to the UK following a holiday in Cuba - the statistics around their education system are fascinating, although I admit to having done zero 'on-the-ground' research into this.

Whilst over there our only English-language news came from CNN and an item that caught my interest was research coming to light that suggests a possible link between autism and the age of the father. The theory is that older fathers pass on more random genetic mutations, particularly as they reach the over-40 bracket. The research was originally published in the scientific journal Nature, which means we can give it more credence than say, a Daily Express headline.

On my return to the UK I looked the story up again on the internet, and found that this research has been picked up by our media. Amongst others, The Independent carried it although it concerned me that Autism was described as an 'illness' by their writer and a 'disease' by the quoted researcher

I think Autism, at least from an educational perspective, is best described as a 'condition' - with honest acknowledgement of the difficulties it brings matched with a focus on the possibilities and opportunities, as demonstrated by this article from the This Is Plymouth website.

Thinking of the students identified with ASD that I've worked with over the years, many of whom love comic books and science fiction, it made me smile when one of the CNN commentators observed that the reported genetic mutations are in fact what drives forward evolution  - and could eventually lead to a new breed of human being - the X-Men sprung immediately to mind...

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Find Your Island

I'm breaking my self-imposed summer holiday hiatus from blogging to mention an interesting article by Patrick Barkham published in today's Guardian newspaper - "What can athletes with ADHD teach us about the condition?"

The article is a well-balanced look at possible links between the condition and sporting success. Although, through my own work as SENCo in a large secondary, I would disagree with the comment that teachers 'scoff' at the disorder. My over-riding experience is that colleagues respond compassionately when a student is identified with an underlying learning difficulty - and simply want to know what they have to do make life and learning easier for them.

SEN teachers may sometimes apply a critical eye to ADHD but this focuses on legitimate questions around mis-diagnosis (because dyslexic-type difficulties, speech & language issues, attachment difficulties - and lifestyle - can all lead to low concentration) and the impact of medication used to increase attention / reduce impulsivity on the young person as a whole. Again, this is with a view to making life and learning easier for them.

The standout quote from the article comes from Andrea Bilbow, chief executive of ADDISS - a charity and support service for ADHD, who advises, "Find your child's island of competence and invest in it heavily."