austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Heaven help us if the library caught on fire

I didn't hear about anything peculiar happening on campus today, but I did notice on the bus -- and I had to take an extra trip back home and to the office since I forgot two books I needed -- a rather large number of women dressed in dark tan, very pocketed, skirts. Many of them wore black, thick-framed glasses. I'm not at all sure, but I think the librarians may be swarming.

A survey of 30,000 Singaporean students in ``primary 4, secondary 1, and post-secondary 3'' grades -- I think that corresponds to elementary, middle, and high school, but since they use a Vaguely British educational system here I have no idea how to translate any of that into American -- reveals that most consider their dreams and aspirations to be important, but don't regard their education as particularly relevant to them. Dr David Hogan with the National Institute of Education's Centre for Research Practices and Pedagogies, says, ``These values are very strong; we call them existential aspirations ... They don't see education as a mechanism that is going to address those existential aspirations. For them, education is primarily about doing well in exams, doing well in their job, making good income. It doesn't have much to do about their own internal aspirations as persons.''

I'm glad kids seem to have their priorities pretty straight (they're interested in happiness, individuality, and family) and do place value on education, although I feel a bit threatened by the idea that education isn't important to those ends. I have a vested interest in educational systems since I don't really fit anywhere else, but I believe education is of value both by itself and because it makes life broader, more substantial. I'm just not sure how I'd convince a skeptical kid that, and particularly of the value of things that aren't obviously practical.

More seriously, the death toll in Indonesia just keeps getting worse. Singapore had a team organizing for relief efforts for Mount Merapi's anticipated eruption. That was easily diverted to earthquake relief, particularly since the epicenter was so close to the volcano. They were able to get organized rather efficiently, but it is grim, and there's still the volcano lurking.

Trivia: Mariner 10 and 11's television cameras had 832 discrete 8-bit pixels per scan line, with 700 vidicon scan lines per image. Source: The Voyage of Mariner 10: Mission to Venus and Mercury, James A Dunne, Eric Burgess. NASA SP-424.

Currently Reading: Michael Faraday: A Biography, L Pearce Williams.


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