Photos of readers

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Today’s reader is Terry McLean from Edmonton, Canada. He even gave his piece a title and some background:

 I have been teaching English as an Additional language (EAL) in Edmonton, Alberta for quite a spell. I started writing a blurb about my new reality of remote teaching from the basement, but it turned into a bit of a light-hearted vent.

Remote Teaching with an Amber Restorative

Lord love a duck. Thanks, COVID-19. Right after eschewing my inner Luddite while scrambling to remotely teach my English as an Additional Language (EAL) courses, I now find myself building and fretting as I am in the thick of a new online spring/summer semester. If I may borrow from the sentiments of the inimitable PG Wodehouse: if not completely disgruntled, I am certainly far from gruntled.

Oh, please don’t get me wrong. I realize that my woes are wee; I am lucky. My loved ones are healthy, and I have a job with more than enough to keep me meaningfully occupied during diet-free, self-distancing season. For this, I am grateful. Nevertheless, fretting still rears its head, particularly for yours truly, who grew up in antiquity when tablets and cell phones were regarded as accoutrements for the likes of Spock or Ziggy Stardust. Alas, the days of calling Scotty to beam me up to dodge a sticky jam are long gone.

When I was in university in the early 80s, I took a computer science class in which we read about flowcharts and binary code—we never once tickled the keys of a computer. Zoom to the present: wired to the ears, students have game—they are tech savvy.

Truth be told, I have been using online platforms for blended teaching and learning for many years, and there are advantages to this approach. That said, if I had my druthers, next semester I would be holding court in the classroom in a sequined bespoke hazmat suit.

Fret not. My theory, which I will call my own, is that in this brave new world, my technological tickle trunk will be even more jam-packed than the original. So, enough gnashing of teeth. Time for that amber restorative. That’s what Christopher Hitchens would have said (I miss Hitch).

13 Comments

  1. boudiccadylis
    Posted June 21, 2020 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Who’s the masked companion?

    • Terry
      Posted June 21, 2020 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      My d*g, Max. Daughter masked him for one minute 🙂

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted June 21, 2020 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Have to wonder how long the dog went for that. Working remotely or from home must be frustrating for teachers. It is all just a bit too mechanical and detached.

  3. Posted June 21, 2020 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Now try masking a cat!

    Real programmers virtually never made flowcharts. They were mostly about presenting logic to non-programmers. Binary code is mostly something we now only see on TV scrolling randomly by on some background screen. That said, every computer science student should learn about how high-level computer languages get turned into binary codes that are executed on a real machine. To do otherwise would be like learning biology but never looking through a microscope.

    • enl
      Posted June 21, 2020 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

      I agree that all CS students, and those in related fields, should see, and at some level understand, the entire onion, and I like your bio analogy. My previous stupidvisor in the teaching life was a bio person of a certain age and couldn’t see why we need those darn computers. I wish I had thought of it.

      OTOH, back in the day, we did make flowcharts, usually for the programmers. They were meant for communicating high level structure, and, yes, did have the advantage that the management non-programmers could follow. Especially when the manager was a process engineer.

      Last year, in my engineering practice life, for the first time in many years, I worked with flowcharts on the design of a process and safety critical system. They had the advantage of communicating clearly to the process guys, the safety review, and my what needed to happen, and gave a basis for the state machine that was the safety critical part. I think the last time I used a flowchart for any non-triveal purpose was the last toime I was involved in the design of a processor, back in maybe 1985.

      • Posted June 21, 2020 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

        There have been a few attempts to use flowcharts and other visual constructs as the source code for programs in place of our programming languages. It was expected to allow managers and others to leave out the middle man or at least work together with them. Visual programming languages are pretty easy to implement on powerful modern computers with their graphics. But it never took off for a few reasons, IMHO. 1) It solves a non-existent problem. Programmers don’t feel more comfortable with flowcharts but less. 2) Much less of the program fits on the screen. 3) The names of variables and functions communicate a lot of information that is harder to consume than flowchart labels.

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 21, 2020 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    I have been teaching English as an Additional language (EAL) in Edmonton, Alberta …

    ‘Bout time somebody taught those Canucks to speak proper English, eh? 🙂

  5. rickflick
    Posted June 21, 2020 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    I love to see the classic design of the telephone on the wall in your office. That was a little before my time. But, not too little.

  6. Posted June 21, 2020 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Amber restorative. It’s on the menu tonight. D*g with a mask is funny.

    • jezgrove
      Posted June 21, 2020 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

      My dad played a part in introducing the amber nectar to the UK in the 1972 film The Adventures of Barry McKenzie – although actually he was the Pommy customs officer who confiscated Bazza’s suitcase full of the stuff at Heathrow. Now there’s a film that would need multiple serious trigger-warnings for a 2020 audience! https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Adventures_of_Barry_McKenzie

      • jezgrove
        Posted June 21, 2020 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

        Oops, wrong amber restorative!

  7. Posted June 21, 2020 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    This was a fun post to read. Love the photos too!

  8. Ken Pidcock
    Posted June 22, 2020 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    If PCC is trying to encourage more submissions, you’re setting a high bar for accompanying narrative.


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