June 30, 2011

A Powerpoint and General Graphics Issue That Is Very Easily Avoided

Im just back from a three-day training course with my job. The course material and presentation had way too much of a corporate feel to it for my liking. Big lecture halls, getting everyone to shout woohooooo! etc to get them motivated, and some really, really badly designed PowerPoint presentations.

Before I go any further, I must emphasise that the course itself wasnt too bad. The speakers knew their stuff, and the ladies running it worked extra hard, and they are great and friendly people, but Im here to rant, and rant I will.

Secondly, Im talking about design here, the overall look and feel of these PPT presentations, not the content. Those giving the lectures certainly knew what they were talking about, it just, sometimes, looked like shit on-screen. I wont mention one lecturer who was so scruffy that it actually irked me. Buy some shoe polish and a fucking iron.

Right everyone, stop doing this. I mean it. Stop. Right now.
What in the name of fuck are you doing? This is not a fucking hall of mirrors. Keep things in their original proportions and ratios! The coins and faces mistake were both on PPTs I saw at this course. Dont do this!! I mean holy fuck, were not all artists, but you dont have to make everyone look like theyve had their head in a vice. A circle is a circle is a circle. Why is yours egg-shaped? Why? Why cant you see it? If you think no one notices, you are wrong! One of the lecturers spent a good hour talking about body language, that is - non-verbal communication, yet his non-verbal communication (the look and feel of the PPT) stunk! Its easily avoided in PPT just drag THE FUCKING CORNERS ONLY not the middle-of-the-edge of the images. If you need to change the proportion/ratio crop the image first. That is, if its too wide, chop a bit off rather than just dragging it in. Theres a crop tool in PPT its icon looks like this.

Jeezo! Dont do this. If I see you doing this on any handout, worksheet, PPT or anything else I will send you dog poop in the post. In an oddly proportioned box. See how you like it.

Colours (Fuck the American Spelling).

One lady lecturer decided that the headers/titles in each of her slides should, for some reason be a) the same size as the rest (itself not a crime) and b) of a more faded tone compared to the body text. Something like this

I mean come on. The point of a fucking header is that, well, its a fucking header. The thing that shouts loudest and the thing you read first. A lead-in. Not much fucking use if I only notice it after Ive read the thing my eye is drawn to first is it? Your headline should be at least as big as the body text, or bigger, it should of course be at the top, and it should NOT be in a less bold or obvious colour/tone than the body text.

Another thing, though this wasnt something I noticed at the training course, as this is more of a tip for teachers of kids, not adults. Add some fucking pictures to your slides (without squashing them for fucks sake). Kids love looking at boring slide-after-slide of text dont they? No of course they fucking dont. Pictures also look a lot more professional with borders on, so add some fucking borders, it aint hard. If you dont know how go figure it out, thats what fucking Google is for.

And while Im talking about pictures dont use these (pixelated) or these (watermarked). Why? Because youll look like a c*nt. Get a nice clean picture without watermarks or pixelisation, that is a decent size, big enough to resize without becoming pixelated, and slap a border on it. Its not hard. In fact its very easy for anyone with an IQ above 12. Incidentally the use of clip art. Some hate it (professional designers especially) but for us teachers, its cartoony quality can be pretty useful.

Also, pick interesting fonts. There is more to life than Times New Roman and Arial. I use this website http://1001freefonts.com. If youre doing a presentation about, say, computers, use a techno font. Shakespeare? Use an Olde English font. Use your fucking imagination anyway. Also, the variation of typefaces might just challenge the kids reading a little. Dont know how to install a font? Google.

Body language is important in communication. Design is equally important in presentation. Theres no excuse for making the obvious-as-a-turd-on-your-face mistakes above.

You may never win designer of the year, I know I wouldnt, but if you eradicate/use the above, youll at least look like less of a twat by reaching the VERY BASIC STANDARD of design. Who knows, maybe you will start looking professional? OK, I doubt that, but give it a try. And iron them fucking trousers.

NB: The above is not directed at anyone in particular. The course I went on was actually pretty good, Powerpoints aside...

June 10, 2011

How Come? Social Norms That Baffle Me

How comeif you read the newspaper before you go to work in the morning, you will be considered enlightened, well-read, up-to-date and well-informed, but if you spend half an hour reading the internet in the morning you will be considered weird?

How come if you walk down the street whistling, you
'll be considered a happy-go-lucky type with not a care in the world, but if you walk down the street humming, or even worse, singing, everyone would think you've just escaped from somewhere?

'm sure I have some more of these. But my ageing memory has put a stop to them being reproduced here. More soon

June 09, 2011

The Problem with Banning Corporal Punishment.

Corporal Punishment, 'CP' in the rest of this article, has just been outlawed in Korea well a few months ago this is not today's news. I'm old enough to remember CP at school back in England, and have also seen it first hand, both at school, and out here in Asia. I've also taught in both environments, where CP is both banned and used. Here's my take on why banning it is a bad thing.

Firstly, let me say that banning altogether has some plusses. No doubt there are teachers who take it too far, but in my experience these are extremely isolated incidents. Really, they are. Has anyone ever seen, or heard, of anyone, not via the media, that was severely beaten by a teacher? I haven


Secondly, let me say that personally, I'm not in favour of hitting kids. I don't have any myself, but if I did I doubt I'd hit them. My parents never hit me though I was CP'd many times at school. Even when it was legal here I didn't CP anyone.

But the problem with actually BANNING it is that once you do this, you essentially hand over the leadership of the school to the pupils therein. NOT because you now have no means to discipline them, but because they know that they have the law on THEIR side. A pupil could, if he or she took a dislike to you, report you for a friendly tap on the shoulder or pat on the head. And they will. This adds massive pressure to the job of teaching, so now of course you have a policy of no physical contact whatsoever. (And let
's be adult here, I am not talking, suggesting, implying or inferring sexuality in any of this.)

When I first started teaching in
Korea, I literally never touched the kids, having taught in England previously, that was the norm, but I was eventually pretty-much ordered to! I was at first considered a 'cold' teacher. This was elementary school, and it was/is very normal here to, say, put your arm round a kid's shoulder when you're talking to them etc. It's not so normal back in the UK, and actually I feel a bit weird typing this what with the west's/our predilection with calling everyone a paedo at the drop of a hat. But the west's obsession with that is for another article. I digress

In short, the pupils now know that they have the law, and therefore the power, on THEIR side. 99% of my pupils are well behaved and a healthy rapport is maintained. But, I
'll tell you one thing I jokingly, and smilingly, I shook my fist at a kid in a mock "why I oughta!" kind of way recently. His response? "Teacher, if you do that again I will contact the police!" he meant it.  They know. They know the power has shifted. They know that they are the ones who can get you into trouble. It shifted in the UK, and it will shift here. I used to pat my kids on the back when they fell asleep. I daren't now. I have a drum and cymbal at home I'm bringing that in that should wake them up! However, I reiterate the power has shifted now. Be warned.