Iain Cameron's Diary
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2005-11-22 - 8:22 a.m.

At Stefanís persuasion I went with him to hear the Greg Lake band in Chesterfield last week. They included two tracks of ITCOCK both which played very well to my ears - rather better than the rest of the programme although Pictures at An Exhibition sounded well. The young German guitarist was undoubtedly the star.

The rest of the week was pretty dry and technical.. The team who are to work on the Skills Academy began to take shape. There was the publication of a fundamental review of the vocational education sector and an even more fundamental study - still under way - emerged from the shadow which has set me off ferreting around some of the submissions which have been made by different parties. I have kept the Learning Grid topped and dug deeper into the local cluster.

I have ordered a book on the philosophy of technology. Much of the stuff in the previous paragraph is based on the idea that technology is the answer - but do we have the skills needed to make the most of it? The answer to the second question is almost certainly Ďnoí but to understand why those skills arenít there in sufficient quantity you have to firstly understand what technology is . Secondly you have to understand what it is about technology that people at school deciding what careers to take up donĎt like

Its gradually becoming clear to me that in general terms there are two faces to (any) technology . One is at a abstract and generic level - for example you can describe the generic elements of a laser which is almost a piece of physics. It is a bit more than physics because there is some generalized know-how about how different sorts of things fit together to make something happen - and this know-how would help you to produce lasers on a production line probably.

But the other side to any technology is specific product-related applications. A laser is part of a compact disc machine and it can also be part of a weapon. These are real things in the real world which have real consequences - and people have real reactions to these consequences and uses. Part of the reason that children donít like science and technology is that they donít like some of the consequences of the use of devices embodying technology. The biggest barriers (so I learned last week) to more people developing skills in technology are not cognitive - they are affective and social.

On Saturday night I was able to ask Chris about one of the thinkers who has helped develop this stuff. We all met up in a restaurant in Hersham - on the banks of the River Mole.

On Sunday I read some of Iain Sinclair's account of walking around the M25 - the bit about that area. St George's Hill is exactly the kind of feature that appeals to him. Modern celebrities living on a Celtic hill fort with a radical history from the Civil War.

Yesterday I went to the biggest Marks and Spencers in England and bought myself a DJ - for tonightís dinner - and then pressed on to Oxford. Helen was presenting half a seminar - which she did very effectively. I chipped in the odd thought.

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