Author Archives: Mary Stenson Shanahan

Experiencing happiness versus appearing happy | OUPblog


Great Southern Trail: a zen for all seasons

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Last week I had this experience. Cycling on the Great Southern Trail in lovely sunshine and then a rapid cloudburst that sent me scurrying underneath an old stone overbridge where I met a neighbour and we spent a while chatting about things local and global, as the warm rain fell in that light shimmery torrent you get this time of year when it’s near thunder. I took a few pictures as we waited it out then off on my bike again to witness the gradual drying of the ground in front of me as I cycled along for miles and miles. One part of the trail particularly, was exploding with little birds of all kinds; flying close to the ground criss-crossing my track and weaving between the hedges. The rain had swelled the little rivulets that flow at points beneath the trail so they aspired to greater waterfalls, but only for a  little while. Small things are the most important things when you really look at them. And oh the luck to live so close to this beautiful trail! It’s truly a zen for all seasons.

New Ways of Seeing

I’ve just read Double Negative by Ivan Vladislavic. I ordered it on Amazon. I’d read An Exploded View a few years ago and found it intriguing and memorable. This one is about a man, grows up in Johannesburg, leaves and lives in London, comes back after apartheid ‘ends’ and his feelings of separateness from things then. I’m not saying I understood it entirely. You know, there are some books that you come away from feeling really energised and thought-provoked but at the back of your mind you have a nagging feeling that you are missing something? And, for some reason, you feel the fault lies in yourself? You failed to understand all of the subtleties and literary sophistications? You alone amongst all the readers.

But I can forgive Vladislavic this, because I’m in love with his descriptions. Two reasons. They are so very well observed; he picks up exactly what is needed from what he looks at. And also, he uses only the exact minimum words and most fruitful metaphors and similes. You instantly recognise what he writes of, but in a new Vladislavikian way.

John Banville does the same. He says a writer shows a reality, but it’s not a real reality, it’s an artistic creation that draws us in – it is a ‘re-presentation’ and is artful and memorable. I think he added that if such a re-presentation is good enough it can merge with one’s own experience of that reality/image forever so you forget which is which – American Civil War/Gone with the Wind? Or maybe I just made that bit up? One thing for sure, I’ll never look at a photograph or a shopping centre in quite the same way again. I guess that’s the point of a novel.

They call us Senior Citizens but treat us like Old Fools


We will never

get the pension by the time we’re pension age, that is – pension age by today’s standards, because by the time we get there, it’ll have moved up another notch.

We won’t be able

to afford to fix our eyes, our hearts or our joints despite the fact we’ve probably paid private health insurance all of our working lives…since the government hoodwinked us into it way back. Way back when we believed what we heard. We won’t have the right to be cared for when we become unable. We won’t have the right to remain in our own familiar home. Adequate food, heating and travel may very likely not be there for us if current policy continues.

A call to arms

for older people, coming up to the election this year. Don’t let them get away with taking any more from us. For young people, remember you too are on the road to ageing. Don’t let them disappear the road before you even get there. Use your vote to make sure that no further entitlements are taken from older people, and ultimately  from the future you.  We must pull together on this. Let’s protect our rights to a good old age. Let’s not allow them lead us all beyond a point of no return.

Creativity – It’s Our Future!

PowerPoint Presentation

By Trevor Bailey, Director of WW Education   

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” – Albert Einstein

Einstein understood the importance of the imagination and his words remind us of where human creativity has taken us – and will continue to take us. Creativity is essential to innovation. And innovation gives us the new technologies and products that will drive the global economy forward.

How important is creativity to our future? A recent study conducted by Adobe in the U.S., “Creativity and Education: Why It Matters,” showed that 90 percent of US professionals believe that unlocking creativity is essential to economic growth and that it is valuable to society. The study also highlighted a growing awareness, especially among professionals, that creativity and creative thinking deserve a bigger role in education. In fact, 88 percent of U.S. professionals surveyed believe that creativity should be built into standard curricula. Today, companies are realizing the importance of the creative process in the workplace. They are looking for employees who can do more than specific tasks—they want employees who can also think differently and be innovative. To be successful, students need an education that emphasizes communication, collaboration and creativity.

With the challenges the world is facing today in our global economy, in our environment, and in social issues, the need for creative ideas has never been greater. That is why we are aligning our work to help students and educators realize the power of creativity and self-expression by providing digital tools, vibrant communities, resources, curricula, certifications and platforms that showcase student success. To better prepare our students for the challenges of today, we must graduate thinkers of tomorrow. Here at Adobe we believe creativity is no longer an elective; it’s the future.

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Originally posted on the Adobe blog ‘UK and Ireland channel news’ on September 24, 2013. It may be accessed here.

Making Education Interactive

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How to make education interactive: digital technology, web and creative tips to engage students

Original article by Jenny Beswick (published 17th October, 2013, accessed via:

Technology is constantly redefining education, and not only does it provide teachers, parents, and students with a steady stream of new resources it also transforms the way our society stores, processes, and transmits information.

Technologies change the way we think and plays a key role in determining what we think about. As invention gives rise to new branches of knowledge, it drives education in new directions. Past innovations ranging from the codex to the internet have left indelible marks upon the academic world, and there can be no doubt future innovations will continue to alter the face of education in years to come. But as advancements in digital technology accelerate, as they have been in recent years, educators often struggle to implement the latest tech tools into their lessons. Fortunately though, today it is easier than ever to bring digital technology into the classroom and make courses interactive.

Here are some great tips for making your lesson plans more entertaining, engaging, and relevant to students growing up in this digital age:

Video conferencing

Video conferencing programs like Skype and iChat are amazing tools for teachers today as they allow students to explore new worlds without leaving the classroom. Teachers can arrange for guest speakers to appear to give short presentations about their jobs as doctors, engineers, or musicians and because they will not need to physically come into the classroom, many professionals will be much more likely to accept the offer and recommend this form of educational teaching to others.

What is also great is video chatting can also connect students with their peers around the world and this interactive fun learning makes well for language lessons. There was an article on Mashable about how video chat is creating a global classroom, this is a good read and it is amazing to know there are 30,000 classroom videoconferencing systems in the USA alone.

Digital Geography

Google Earth is undoubtedly the most powerful geography-teaching tool ever invented. By taking students for a digital spin around the world, they can learn about everything from political boundaries to topography, and even take a street view tour of their own schools. So as a teacher think about the wider scope and how it can benefit students in the long run.

Teenage Students In IT Class Using Computers In Classroom With Tutor



Podcasts can make for great supplementary lessons. Assign them for homework and quiz students about them the next day. They are guaranteed to be far more interesting than most traditional homework assignments, will get students digitally active, and can serve as great resources for students with visual impairments.

Video streaming

What student doesn’t love watching a movie in class? YouTube and the countless educational websites online today are great resources for teachers, and can help educator’s present information in exciting and engaging ways. A video, which is a simple example of how video interactive works well in education, is available here

Real-time analysis

Real time analysis can be produced from your school website. Make sure as a teacher that you know all about the web management of your school – that the website you have has analytics installed. Once you have access to your analytics, you can then enter the real time mode to see exactly what is happening on web page. What you want to do is set up educational class content on a web page, where you have video tutorials that teaches the student away from the classroom, ask your students to visit this page for resources, and you can then track in real time which topics they are visiting and what areas of interest you need to improve your teaching on. The same can be done with YouTube, which has analytics attached to it. Create video content on lessons and monitor how many views you get and the audience it is attracting.

Interactive education games

Gamification is an important new trend in the tech world that has recently inspired a vast range of technologies and software. The idea is that people are highly motivated by technologies that transform mundane tasks into games. Countless programs have been developed in subjects ranging from science to art, which get students excited about learning by presenting them with educational games. Check out the gamification education infographic.

Multimedia presentations

Songs, video clips, PowerPoint presentations, short animations, and high-resolution photographs are great ways to get students engaged with classroom material. Whether students give presentations to their peers or teachers utilize them for their own lessons, multimedia presentations are powerful learning tools. Another great tool is Animoto, sign up to this interactive video making app and website and get the students making presentations through video; it’s fun, creative and educational.

Technology allows educators to make old lessons relevant to a new generation. The use of cutting edge tools in the classroom can also spark passions that lead students to eventually make technological innovations of their own. But perhaps best of all, digital tools simply make it easier for teachers to hold their pupils’ attention. So the benefits of technology are obvious, the only question that remains is why you aren’t using them in your classroom yet.

First Post

This is a test post for my new blog. It’s the 30th January 2014. I’m used to ‘turning up’ at a blank page but it’s a different feeling facing a blank cyber-page. One of the main things that strikes me is the immediacy with which anything I write will be available to be read, anywhere by anybody (always predicated on the rather vain thought that anybody would want to read it, of course). Once I press the button, choice is gone – choice to edit, retract, not show this to anyone. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing? I think it was Johnson who countered that ‘speech is golden, while silence is silver – and only silver plated at that’. Yet though, there’s enough drivel dripping through the ether and the last thing I want is to add more.  But finally, perhaps blogging is an antidote to procrastination such as the above!! I’ll be back…