Stuart Yates – my great friend and mentor

Portrait of Stuart Yates

Stuart Yates
10th September 1949 – 31st July 2012

Stuart passed away early  on the morning of 31st July 2012.  He has been a great friend and mentor since I first met him some 20 years ago (can’t recall the date but it was sometime in 1992/3).  We have since that time been jointly involved in a number of musical projects and this has been a great pleasure for me – following are some things I want to remember about him.

I remember joining the Kemnay Church Music group and playing alongside him (an original member) in what was quite a large group with many different instruments and it played occassionally at Church services and other church events.

The next initiative was to form what is now  known as Ruach Praise with the aim to lead and accompany church worship in a more contemporary musical style.  This band initially played in  Kemnay Parish Church but also played in many other places around the North East of Scotland and tried to seed other similar bands at other churches.  Stuart, a founder member, was always faithful and attended every practice session played with the band on every occassion.  Stuart always stood at the back of the setup but was a key member of the band playing his bass guitar with skill and sensitivity.

Here is the last photo of the band before Stuart passed on.

Last photo of the band with Stuart Yates ( Bass )

The week before he went into hospital for his surgery, he attended the Friday evening band practice and played with the band at the Sunday service, we all hoped that the operation would lead to a positive end to his fight with cancer.  Interestingly he never missed a practice – even when he was undergoing Chemotherapy – but I know that he endured both pain and discomfort during these times.  On this occassion, as we always do, we ended the session with a short time of prayer and we prayed that Stuart would know God’s comfort and healing power in the days ahead.  Of course Gods will is not necessarly what we want in a situation and on this occassion the out come has been that Stuart has been taken from this world into God’s presence.  As a friend said to me – “Gods timing is always perfect” although we might not fully appreciate his reasoning at the time.  The post-surgery complications (of which Stuart was very well aware of when he decided to opt for surgery) were too much for his body to overcome.  As far as we know he was never was able to regain full conciousness.

We will miss Stuart greatly when the band participates in any events in the future.  But we know that he was fully committed to what we do and believe that he would want us to continue without him – however difficult that might be.  Ruach Praise has had a large number of members over the years with many moving on to other stages in their lives – leaving the area, attending University etc……  but Stuart is the first to have left the band in this way.

I want to acknowledge his immense contribution to the work of Ruach Praise – not only the visible contribution through our performances but also in helping organising the band when he was a always a great ecouragement and might I say a “wise old head”.  After practices it was custom for him to join Mary and I at home for a coffee and chocolate biscuit of which he was always very fond.  We would often also watch a music DVD or recording of Trans-Atlantic Sessions  – we will remember these times foldly.   Watching the Two Ronnies or the Vicar of Dibley usually ended in complete hillarity when Stuart would laugh uncontrollably….  Stuart was also known for telling  a few good jokes from time to time – “drummers” often took the brunt on these occassions 😉

On the day he went into hospital he stopped by the house to say “bye” – I said we would be keeping him in our prayers and look forward to seeing him after the operation when he would be feeling better.  It seems that this reunion will take place a little further into the future than I hoped/expected as we have a Christian hope of a great reunion still to come.


2 Corinthians Ch 5 Vs 1

“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.”

read the above chapter here Corinthians+5&version=NIVUK

(read other comments about Stuart on his facebook page, click here

The Flipped Classroom

Just been reading a white paper from Cisco about the Flipped Classroom.  The paper describes how the teaching and learning model used around the world today has it rootes in the 18th century.  This is based the premis that lessons are delivered in real time by teachers and lecturers and then students do further study and review the content.  Following is an extract from the paper which sets the scene.

“For the first 19 years of his career in education, Jon Bergman–like most educators–rarely had the time to speak to more than a few students each day in his high school chemistry classes. His teaching model followed the conventions established generations ago: Standing at the front of his classroom, he delivered lectures to students who furiously scribbled notes. He presented homework each evening, which was briefly reviewed the next day in class before beginning a new lab. Students who quickly grasped the concepts Bergman presented did well enough on tests to pass his class; those who struggled or were reticent to ask for help did not.
But six years ago, Bergman and fellow educator Aaron Sams–then teaching in Woodland Park, Colorado–had an epiphany: Instead of relying on their lectures to cover the material, they began capturing their lessons on video.  Given their school’s rural, economically diverse population (with 20 percent lacking high-speed Internet access), the pair burned the videos onto DVDs that students could watch at home. In this way, students who were unable to understand the lessons the first time were able to review them as many times as needed to fully grasp the material–without worrying about holding back the class, or appearing slow.
By “flipping the classroom” in this fashion–having students review teacher-created video content outside the classroom, and reserving class periods for assignments they previously did at home–Bergman and Sams empowered their students to take charge of their own learning, at their own pace. As a result, students were able to complete 50 percent more labs during class time, and test scores increased dramatically. Bergman and Sams have since implemented the model at the Chicago high school where both now teach, with the same results.”

You can download and read the paper on the following link.


Today with so many opportunties for teachers to place resources online which can be accessed any time – the concept of the flipped classroom has in my view, much to offer. But as with most new innovations this is not “an all or nothing” opportunity,  I see it more and another methodology that teacher can use to complement their existing tool set.  This not so much a revoluion as an evolution which should be exploited as and when it will bring added value to the learning situation.

I do think that there is a responsibility on education authorities ( governments, districts and local authorities) to ensure that this sort of approach can be exploited for the greater benefit of learner througout the world.  It may be that these agencies are the enablers by providing the support, services and training to help teachers engage with this type of approach.


EFF Debate 5 – From Learner Voice to Global Peace

I felt privileged to witness the latest Education Fast Forward Debate, which took place on Tuesday 1oth July 2012.  This one was different in the sense that the debaters were all young people various parts of the world.

There were contributions form the US, South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya to mention only a few.  The debate took the form of an initial presentation from Jeremy Gilley who leads Peace One Day, which is a global collaboration addressing the challenges of conflict facing the world.  Through focusing on making one day of peace in the year, Peace One Day is establishing a foothold in building a more peaceful world.

The whole event lasts about 2 hours – but its well worth the time – please do view it and feel free to comment on Twitter using the following hash tags  #eff5 #effdebate.  If you view the relevant tag streams you can also review the comments made by the people who were following the live web cast on the day.


Video streaming by Ustream