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Reasons to be cheerful

May 16, 2011 by Robin Englebright   

I made two new years resolutions this year.

The first was the traditional, “lose weight”.
Sadly I didn’t succeed, and what’s worse I failed in my diet just as the comical news item said I would, on the “average day for diet failure”. I can’t abide the thought I’m that predictable, it’s why I loathe predictive text… that however, is another story.
The second resolution was to actively find something joyful to relish every day, to combat the relentless bad news feed from twitter. This mostly consists of little things which I hastily scribble in a notebook, like these:
-C#m played on an acoustic guitar
-Someone writing WYSIWYG as “WZYWIG” (what were they thinking?)
-Views over London from BSI building.
-The phrase “pessimistic metainduction based on past falsity”
-Chicken Fajitas
-Logic gates
-Hand axes
-Blue tack

Finding daily reasons to be cheerful has proved infinitely easier as I have the very great fortune to work for JISC, who regularly get me to do the most fascinating things, (though usually unrelated to Clangers or stilton)
Most recently I had the privilege of attending a HEPI meeting at the Royal Society,  where I heard some scintillating  speakers outline issues related to the student experience of HE, and at lunchtime I got to rare pleasure of spending time looking at some exhibits, including the original manuscript of Principia Mathmatica, with annotations by Halley. 
I’m not sure I can articulate how much this moved me.

The visit had me reading Principia on my Kindle on the way home, and searching for more Newton information on the Royal Society website.
I found a huge number of podcasts, including a fascinating discussion about Newton’s more esoteric interest in Alchemy, and about Project Newton. I wasn’t surprised to find that Project Newton is sponsored by JISC.

In the current climate it is sometime hard to remember that the very best learning isn’t about an economic argument, or a cost benefit analysis regarding future earning potential… it’s about that feeling of awe that demands further investigation. To misquote WB Yeates: “Education is not about filling a bank account, but lighting a fire.”

JISC purveyors of fine educational firelighters since 1993.
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  1. David Kernohan says:
  2. adamenglebright says:

    Much as you dislike him, Stuart Lee did a good bit on this topic (the true value of education, not of Principia. Though I think that would be an interesting routine to attempt).

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