Interesting discussion at “The Conversation” on Maths and Science Education live streamed on the web today, interesting on many levels not least of which is the number of different perspectives on approaching the topic (and yes, some of them tended towards “my way”, but most were academics with grants to support). I’m sure The Conversation will have coverage of it for those who want to follow through, but for me the quote of the day belongs to Professor Ian Chubb AM, Chief Scientist of Australia (pictured below, photo courtesy of The Conversation’s twitter posting):“We’ve been talking about this for a while but as I get older, I’m getting less patient with inaction”
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a rough week – one of those weeks where you tell yourself to get over yourself cos it’s not like you’re in Syria, but then feel so bad for the Syrians that you feel worse because you’re the kind of person who compare themselves to the Syrians struggling to survive to make themselves feel better. Yeah, one of those weeks.
And I know I just finished posting that I was going to stay away from Politics, but they’re not helping. Doesn’t break the pledge to admit that, though, because it’s apolitically pathetic – seriously, THESE are the people that supposedly represent us, that are leading us towards the future?!?! Both sides, all levels, seem to be in serious need of a long time-out and cutting back on the sugar before bed-time, and being inundated with their so-called “policy positions” is not exactly inspiring one towards constructive thinking or action. And while one can (and this one freely admits she does) do your best to avoid what passes for news, it can leave one siding with Charlie Brown: “AAAAUUUUUUGGGHHHH!!!”
Of course, it’s not just politicians who are making my littlest niece look mature. Just over 30 months old when her baby brother was recently born, she sorted out a gift to take to the hospital on his second day: a dummy and a ruggy. “He will need these,” she told her Grandmother, and she had a point (although, to be fair, it wasn’t one of her best ruggies).
Taking responsibility for one’s own interests, and the degree to which one is prepared to do this, is rapidly emerging as my number one priority for prospective clients, business partners or proposals and, quite frankly, policy positions. I
moaned mentioned in my wrap of the Co-operative Research Centres Association (CRCA) 2013 conference the potential I currently saw for individuals and organisations in the innovative and creative sectors to distinguish themselves by showing some initiative and responsibility. That’s only become more apparent in recent weeks – there seems to be a real sense of entitlement in some parts of our sectors, a part that if not growing in size is at least growing in volume.
I’ve heard relatively senior academics voice a belief that, having submitted a number of unsuccessful applications for a particular national competitive funding program, her faculty was owed “a turn” for a significant investment of funds, and others vent true outrage that institutes would not as a matter of course take staff off-line to prepare potentially unsuccessful funding bids. I’ve read stories in the media of others railing at the injustice of funds being allocated to other groups or initiatives which ultimately were unsuccessful, or worse – to one and not to all applicants, demonstrating if nothing else an appalling lack of understanding in those educating the next generation of practitioners that funds can only be spent once and then they are gone. This seems a particularly prevalent criticism of expenditure of public funds, where money that funds our interests and activities doesn’t then fund (as is always the example in the media) hospital beds and road maintenance.
Of course, a certain amount of this is spin – often an attempt to position oneself or one’s organisation for “peace” funding, soften up a funding target for a broader commitment of resources generally, or just a bit of exposure. Nor am I for a second suggesting either our funding system or priorities are in any way perfect or, for that matter, appropriate. But whining about the pool of funds not being unending or about your two month effort not being as successful as someone else’s 18 months of nights and weekends, is not perfect nor appropriate, or even particularly helpful. It’s shortsighted, disheartening for those trying to improve what system we do have and, bottom line, really annoyingly good material for lazy comedians and commentators.
After all, if my Munchkin knows parents can only give you so much and then it’s up to us, shouldn’t the rest of us with ten times her experience have figured it out by now? And if we haven’t, for spin purposes or otherwise, do we – politicians, industry organisations, and funding applicants alike – really deserve the support we’re seeking?
And the Syrians? I read today in The New York Times that they’re making their own weapons rather than wait for us to come rescue them…