Monday, January 09, 2006

Book Selling at the ASE conference

Apart from lectures, demonstrations and discussions there was also a large marquee housing an exhibition of learning resources for teaching science at all levels as well as stands devoted to various specialist societies and publishers. This one I spotted had a familiar ring...

...with an inviting couch upon which I collapsed with bags and cup of coffee after my long train journey.

The theme was 'First Aid for the GCSE' and the sales reps were dressed as medics in disposable lab coats. As you can see there were computer displays, medicine bottles, cabinets, flashing emergency lights...ah the GCSE (General Certificate in Secondary Education) must be in a great deal of trouble to require such medical intervention and quite a few teachers seemed interested.

Some of the stalls in the exhibition were quite massive structures giving an impressive air of permanance for something that was obviously so temporary. They were a bit like film sets, with thick-walled alcoves, desks and chairs and complicated technological displays involving computers and simulations. There were also balloons, free bags, posters, and many ploys to grab a customer's attention...

After queuing for a sandwich and my encounter with Tarantino I made my way back to the Physics building where I had stashed my case of books in the caretaker's cupboard ('we're not responsible for it, mind') and then onto the lecture theatre where I was giving my talk. Dr Mark Biddiss of INSPIREducation was just clearing away the props from his lecture. He is the co-director of a company which provides in service teacher training. He gave me one of his colourful cards - 'science and maths with the fun bits left in' it says. Maybe that is why the GCSE is so ill. It has had its backbone removed - all the investigations and excitement of science has gone because everyone is so afraid of taking risks, of being sued if anyone burns a finger.

Anyway, my talk went well and although the audience was small it was appreciative and a few more people know about Alfred Wegener now, so I was pleased.


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