Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

27 10 2008

I visited this museum in Chicago, spending over 5 hours here and I still had not seen everything.  There are a few things on their website that might be useful for science and WW2.  I found it all fascinating, and one of my favourite things was the biggest model railway system I have ever seen, which desribed the growth and use of the Chicago – Seattle train link.

I have put a few more photos and finally written up a race report on my running blog.

Reflections on a holiday

20 10 2008

Well my time was rubbish for the marathon but I knew that was going to happen; a lack of proper training, the travelling and jet leg and what ended up as 30 degree heat on the day were factors that were always going to give me trouble.

I did manage to mostly enjoy it though as I kept telling myself too!  I had a few low points,  but the volunteers and the spectators really kept me going.

It sounds corny but doing that marathon reminded me that most people are nice (I can’t think of a better word, too tired with jet lag).  It’s too easy to concentrate on anti-social behaviour, ASBO’s etc, especially when you have noisy neighbours, but there were 1-2m people spectating on Sunday, a lot of whom cannot have been supporting specific people but just generally there to give support to the 36,000 people who started the race (46,000 registered and 31,000 finished).  Then there were the people setting up showers with their hoses as the weather got hotter, giving out extra cups of water, ice and lots of sweets!

It was the volunteers who I really paid attention to this time though. Usually I carry my own water and have only just started drinking sports drinks so have never used the aid stations as much as I did last week.  There were 20 aid stations, about a city block in length with first aid, toilets, drop out truck and gaterade and water taking up most of the block on both sides of the road.  Half of the aid stations were manned by running clubs and half by high schools.  My guess would be that of the total number of volunteeers on aid stations 80% ish were teenagers.  Not only were they super at what they were doing but they were also very vocal in their support as well, particularly in the latter stages.  I am not sure this number of teenagers would volunteer, although it would be nice to think so.  Certainly I do not remember noticing this at either of the two London marathons I have done.

2 favourite slogans on banners from supporters:

“Pain is just weakness leaving the body”

“The reason your feet hurt so much is because you are kicking so much ass” (very american but funny!)

I love big cities like Vancouver, New York and now Chicago, partly because of the range of different cultures that they are made up of.  I was always turning round to admire beautiful children in the street of African/American or Asian descent.  However it was glaringly obvious that by far the majority of manual labour, low paid jobs that I saw were being done by mostly black people.  In comparison going shopping down the magnificent mile, going to museums with entry fees or to the theatre you were surrounded by mostly white people.  Then on my last day I saw a queue for a soup kitchen and 95% of the people in the queue were black and male.  When I saw that it brought it home how recently really that segregation was in force in the USA.

On a totally different note now, I had my first day of presentations on Malawi to secondary school pupils today at Strathaven Academy.  I was a bit worried about this as I had not really been in a secondary since my own time there so was expecting, pessimistically, bad behaviour and poor listening.  However I was pleasantly surprised at the behviour and attention that was paid to me in each of the six talks I did to 1st to 4th year.  They were a bit sleepy first thing in the morning and there were not many questions but the different classes livened up as the day went on.  I found the secondary pupils a bit harder to read than primary pupils during the talks but was convinced of their interest when it was often the pupils who started spontaneous applause when I finished.  The only un-related question I was asked was the very last one with one of the girls in third year asking me if my nails were real or not – I think they had a bet on!

Off to run and shop in the Windy City

9 10 2008

Perfect holiday starting tomorrow – a world marathon major to run combined with a week of shopping with a lot of dollars to spend (I might manage a little sight seeing too)!

Been really busy at work, that nice steady to the session has certainly gone but I am loving it!  Been involved in some web design with front page and uploading that to Glow, helping with catch up glow training training giving training on the ASM role to support services staff and that’s just some Glow work within the last 8 days. 

I have also given some presentations to AIFL named teachers on rich tasks and how to use them as an assessment tool, continued with my management and leadership certificate, presented on Malawi at a CPD twilight and went to my school’s parents evening and afternoon to talk about and show photos from Malawi.  I am keen to keep my school involved especially as we are linking schools and keeping the parents informed is an important part of that.  Also hoping they will help me with fundraising for the teacher’s house I want to get built in my village.  The PTA are great and being supportive with this.

I have done 3 school visits to help with getting passwords etc up and running.  As a council we decided to ask schools what support they wanted in terms of passwords and then learning and teaching so that we are only now going to go out to schools who want the support and want to move on with Glow.  Doing all of the ASM jobs is not exactly my favourite part but I am getting more confident the more I do it.  I can’t wait to get on and help with learning and teaching in schools though. 

I am offering membership to my Malawi glow group out to quite a few of my schools, certainly for the glow mentor and an older class in the school so that the group continues to get used even though I am not in class.  I am updating as I go along.  I am particularly pleased with my gallery page where I have got 4 folders of photos like food, school, family life, village life and then I have a discussion web part below with questions set on what they can learn from the photos – one set of questions for each of the folders of photos.  Now I just need to have a class actually do it!

The children’s passwords etc have been straightforward but I am discovering a few anomolies with probationers, area and cluster cover and my own situation being on secondment!  There is one school in particular that I think I am really going to like working with.  I did a talk there last week (using GLow to show my pictures) on Malawi with p.6 and they were so well behaved but even more importantly asked such brilliant questions the whole way through that I just had a brilliant time.  Things like how I felt about going, when I was there and how I felt leaving, what the kids thought of me being there, language barrier, what they were learning, and much more.  Then today I went again to work with the glow mentor, whom I had met briefly a couple of times and even though she was at very early stages and did not know how to do very much she was so excited about it and could really see it’s potential.  She was desperate to use it to help a child who is off on long term sick and to have a glow group for collaboration between her class and a p.7 class in another school as they already email each other.  So I was able to help her set up those things and I am going in to support her in class after the holidays.

Bonus of my leadership course being cancelled tonight – nice to finish early before a holiday and gave me time to do this.  I will post up my self-reflection and action plan from the first module if I pass them; I posted them today.