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Jotter - Thought that counts

Child psychiatrist meets Glasgow taxi driver: something would have to give. But Helen Minnis, senior lecturer in that very world at Glasgow University, believed she was on safe ground when, as she revealed to the Annual Conference for Educational Psychologists in Scotland, she shared some highly relevant research findings with one of the city's people carriers.

She told her taxi driver that their London counterparts were able to acquire the Knowledge because their larger "hippocampus" allows their grey matter to store a detailed mental map of the city.

To say he was unimpressed would be an understatement. "My hippocampus is not full of grey matter but faecal matter," he opined, "because of all the shit that comes through this partition."

Fortunately, the educational psychologists proved to be a slightly more receptive audience.

Son of Tamagotchi

News that Mike Russell has given his blessing to virtual pets in schools, to promote empathy, has terrified some heidies with long memories.

As one primary head recalled: "We mustn't go back to the Tamagotchi reign of terror. We had a classroom assistant spending most of her day looking after the Tamagotchis, feeding them in case they died and, before that, we had dozens of pupils asking out to the toilet to look after them. Then there were the bereavement counselling sessions for kids whose toys had departed this world." Once electronically bitten by a cyberpet, twice shy.

Humes and away

Our esteemed regular columnist as was, Walter Humes, has acquired his bus pass, but he has surely also acquired a record for being in more institutions of higher learning than . well, any other of our columnists.

Readers will note (p21) that Walter is still alive and, as usual, kicking. His current vantage point is that of a visiting professorial post at Stirling University, whence he moved having allegedly retired from teacher education at the University of Paisley (sorry, the West of Scotland).

Before that, he had done time in the universities of Aberdeen, Glasgow and Strathclyde. What has he done to offend Dundee? Perhaps his conciliatory and inoffensive nature is too much for them?

Off message

It's not often we find rich - or any - pickings for this page in the august annals of Audit Scotland. But we learn from its report on the boards of public bodies that the agenda for a board meeting at Glasgow's Easterhouse University (aka John Wheatley College) had 22 items, within which there were 36 sub-items.

"It is unlikely," says the watchdog loftily, "that boards would be able to give this many items an appropriate level of attention."

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