Learning, Digital & Education from Oliver Quinlan.
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This week: The hidden meanings of our diets, the end of coding and keeping 'the best' away from teaching.

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A delayed newsletter this week... as I was at Raspberry Pi's 'Coolest Projects' event yesterday. It's a great big showcase where children and young people bring their digital projects to share and learn from each other. I think I had the best job of the day- doing in depth interviews with young people about their projects, the stories behind them and what they learned from the whole thing. I had a whole day of fascinating conversations, and I'm looking forward to sharing what we found out when we've made sense of all the notes.

Diet culture is just another way of dealing with the fear of death.

One of those articles completely outside of the areas I usually think about that really made me stop and consider something new. Dietician Michelle Allison started cropping up in my twitter feed with some really thought provoking ideas relating to nutrition and body image that are not just the science, but also the philosophy of how we experience life. Although this article addresses diet culture specifically, it was the background on ritualising food consumption in general and the social mechanisms behind this that I found most fascinating. When you stop and consider it, the inescapable need to devour other living things to survive is rather problematic for a species with the sentience and intelligence we have, and the way our cultures have developed to deal with that is really quite something.

See also her 'tweetstorms' for some complex and nuanced views into how the current political struggles in the US relate to the idea of being driven by fear of death.

Teach kids creativity. Ultimately, machines will be better at coding

Interesting to read this view from Tom Hulme of Google Ventures arguing that teaching kids to code isn't the future proofed ticket to future jobs that many people depict it as. My perspective on how AI is going to affect the mechanics of coding is more limited that Tom's, but it's been clear for ages that given the speed that programming practice moves at, the value of teaching a child how to write Python in the long term isn't that they will land a job as a Python programmer many years later. What's important is giving them the chance to learn the underlying concepts that we use to leverage computation to solve problems and design systems to support us. The core concepts of programming haven't changed anything like as quickly, and I suspect that event with lots of AI help they are still going to be very useful to get things done with computing.

Do the best teachers make the best teacher educators?

A really interesting response to the idea often pursued in our society that the people who are the most effective at a practice should be the ones managing, supervising and teaching others how to do it. Draws from lots of examples beyond teaching to explore the fact that both managing and teaching are different aptitudes to the practice being managed or taught, although knowledge of that practice is also important to a point. A nice analysis of some of the assumptions that shape how our education systems and organisations work.
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Thanks for reading.
Until next week,


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