• Feature,  For Teachers

    New to College Teaching

    Today more than ever, students of all ages are attending college to achieve higher qualifications and fulfil their work and life goals. Colleges, such as NCI, continue to change and evolve in response to these needs. Yet despite numerous innovations in policy, infrastructure and technology there is still one simple truth that underpins our education system; it is that the quality of learning depends essentially on the quality of teaching.

  • Feature,  For Teachers

    What makes a good teacher?

    One of a series of questions to be explored at Essential Questions for Educators Everywhere open summer course National College of Ireland 26-30th of June 2017 eqfee.org ‘What makes a good teacher’ seems a simple question and you might expect a straight forward answer. However, the more you think about it the more you will realise that it is not so simple after all. For many years now, I have worked with students and teachers in different sectors and contexts. Over time we have developed an exercise to interrogate this question. The exercise is worthwhile for learning professionals everywhere. You can try this yourself. Start by thinking about your own…

  • Feature,  Philosophy & Science of Learning

    We Need New Stories in Education

    The Seven Basic Plots is an interesting book by Christopher Booker, the main argument is clear from the title; we have a limited number of story lines and regardless of context or medium, we like the familiar, predictable and comforting. Fairytale, folklore, epic novels and modern film scripts all use variations of basic narrative structures; resilience in the face of onslaught, heroic journeys, monsters and dragons and of course, the struggles of good and evil. The argument is not unique, many thinkers have pointed to a form of collective intellectual comfort blanket. We welcome stories that reinforce pre-existing assumptions and avoid those that challenge our biased views and require re-jigging…

  • Feature,  For Students,  Tips

    Ready to Learn – Taking the First Step

    Oh I was just wondering have you got a moment, I just want to ask you about something‘ she had arrived at NCI reception and they suggested I might meet with her. ‘No problem at all‘ I assured her while thinking how much I had to do that afternoon. Five minutes later she sat in my office. She was very nervous and I thought I noticed a slight trembling in her voice. Her name was Susan. ‘It’s like this‘ she said ‘I was thinking of doing a course here but I am not sure if I’d be able for it‘. She went on to tell me her story. She left…

  • Feature,  For Teachers

    Skills of Teaching

    When it comes to teaching we often make the simple mistake of reducing all that matters into one specific skill. For example, if someone is very good at explaining things we might say they were a good teacher. Likewise, empathy for students is often regarded as an essential quality for teachers. I like to talk in terms of ‘skills for teaching’. In the approach two points are emphasised  – firstly, teaching is multifaceted and involves clusters of abilities rather than one single isolated skill and secondly, when I say skills of teaching I do not put ‘the’ in front, in other words, I mean to say “here are some skills…

  • Feature,  Philosophy & Science of Learning

    Learning about Thinking from James Joyce

    In my view one of the best ways to study learning and thinking is to look to literature and in this arena one figure stands out for the manner in which he conveys the human thought process in print. I am of course referring to James Joyce. In this short review I present some aspects of Joyce’s work from the perspective of insights on how we think and learn. My argument is that great literature resonates with our thought processes. In reading Joyce we are provided with a working model of the inner structures and mechanisms through which we experience the world. I approach this analysis from the perspective of…

  • Feature,  For Students,  Philosophy & Science of Learning

    The Wisdom of the Fox and the Hedgehog

    There is much debate about the kind skills we require for success in the 21st Century. It can be argued that what we learn in school and college often falls short of what we need in everyday life. Employers look for more than academic achievement when considering who to take on – in many cases they seek evidence of a broader set of skills encompassing problem solving, creative thinking, social skills and ethical appreciation. Consider the ancient Greek parable by Archilochus that contrasts the skills of two familiar animals: “The fox knows many things; the hedgehog one big thing.”  I think this is a useful metaphor to help us appreciate…

  • Feature,  For Teachers

    Ed Tech 2008

    Attended EdTech 2008 held in Dundalk IT (DKIT) and presented my own paper on Conceptions of Digital Literacy posted on slideshare. Quite an excellent conference and a good blend of practical and research content. Of note the GOAL project on adult learning http://www.belfastmet.ac.uk/goal/index.aspand the extensive use of www.screencast.com in other institutions. posted by Leo Casey

  • Feature

    The Web and the Unconscious

    Most psychoanalytical models of the human mind use a depth metaphor to suggest the division between the conscious and the unconscious. Typically Jungian approaches use the idea that the mind is like an island jutting out of the sea with only so-much showing above the surface. The visible component represents the conscious, the tidal zone the personal unconscious and the zone below the collective unconscious.A sense of depth is itself a value laden construct. We envisage the bottom of the sea with ugly fish and black darkness. That’s a scary unconscious. There is another way of looking at this what I think is a more useful metaphor. Look at the…