Author Archives: LEM

Statistics

Statistics are not easy to understand. They speak broadly of a whole population but say nothing about individual cases. I was watching a show on TV recently that reported that a study has found that in 70% of households women do more of the domestic duties (cleaning, cooking, ironing etc.) than men. A male commentator then rubbished the study, saying that he did nearly all of the housework, so it was obviously wrong!
But 70% means 70%, not 100%. If the study surveyed 1000 households and found that in 700 of them, women do more of the work, then that equates to 70%. In 300 households, men do more of the work. Finding an exception to a majority doesn’t change the underlying statistics.
Statistics say nothing about individual cases, only about whole populations.

However, politics is not necessarily about accurate statistics. Politics is about winning voters over, so it might be more common to hear that “woman do more housework than men, so things could be better”, or more emphatically, “woman are burdened with far more of the housework in society. This is unacceptable…” Statistics are important, but they don’t on their own have any inherent value because value is measured by humans emotionally, not really rationally!

Our Greatest Treasure

For a long time, teachers used to teach knowledge that they had acquired to students who had not yet acquired it. With the internet, we are no longer taught by teachers who are in a classroom with us, but we can easily search for, read up on and learn stuff from people anywhere on the planet. In this blog post, I’m just experimenting with setting up a blog post. No-one has directly taught me how to do it, but I am indebted to the many talented people who have written fantastic web pages describing how to set up blogs and websites.
What role will there be for teachers in the future, when all the information is on the internet? Well, text books have been around at least since 1980 when I started high school (and I’m told even earlier, but who cares, right?), but my teachers were still an essential part of my education. Has anything changed that much?
Well, the way kids (and all of us) learn stuff has changed a lot (and will continue to change a lot), but students still need great teachers to guide them, to encourage them, to help them to set goals, and to give feedback.
Great teachers are society’s greatest treasure.

BLOG

This blog is only an experiment; I am a science teacher after all. I’m going to try to write a regular blog about teaching and learning and my experiences in the classroom (and in the staffroom).