One whole year past – Stuart Yates

Potraite of Stuart Yates.
Potraite of Stuart Yates.

Today, on the anniversary of his passing, I am taking a few moments to reflect on the memory of my good friend Stuart Yates.

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly time seems to pass – yet the memories of good times and long friendship still remain vivid and fresh.  We had some very good times together – particularly as we both participated in leading Worship at church in Kemnay – I mentioned this in my posts about him last year ( see  Stuart played and practiced with the band right up to the week before he went into hospital for surgery which from which he never to return.  Such faithfullness is notable, remarkable and massively appreciated by me and I am certain, those of us who played with him.

I still miss him very much – but hold on the to memories of his smile and the many time we had sharing a good joke ( often on the topic of drummers 😉 ) – this was common when he would come to visit our home after band practice each Friday evening, usually these were one liners like –

Q: How do you know if its a drummer knocking at your door?
A: the knocking speeds up!

I can almost hear his laughter – both before and after he would tell the joke 😉

In reality we cannot predict the future and experiencing loss through death is always a painful experience.  We never know when our time will come – but thanks be to God that we can be blessed with knowing good and faithful people like Stuart.
Here are some words from a song written by Dave Bilbourgh which we often played together, often at his request – so I think he liked it.

I am a new creation,
no more in condemnation,
here in the grace of God I stand.

My heart is overflowing,
my love just keeps on growing,
here in the grace of God I stand.

And I will praise you, Lord,
yes, I will praise you, Lord,
and I will sing of all that you have done.
A joy that knows no limit,
a lightness in my spirit,
here in the grace of God I stand.
© 1983 Thankyou Music

I look forward to that glorious day of reunioin when we will meeting again in the presence of God our father and Lord.

Education Fast Forward – recently joined as an EFF Fellow!

I was recently made an EFF Fellow and as part of my formal introduction to that community I was interviewed and answered some questions which you can view here by clicking here

I have also captured the transcript below

Promethean Planet: Please can you tell us what your areas of educational interest are?

Jim Buchan: (a) I first developed an enthusiasm in the use of computers for supporting education as an engineering undergraduate student; I used them to build Numerical Control Simulation for industrial production machinery. I soon realized the social power of the network when I started using computers at a remote university via the Janet Network (UK Research and Education Network), and was able to have an entire conversation with remote computer operators. That early experience was conducted by text on Tele-type I/O devices and was very slow compared to todays communication technology. Today I am particularly interested in the deployment of cloud based services to support teaching and learning by providing better access to content and enabling enhanced communication between learners, educators and between the two groups. We are at a point in technological evolution where there is a great opportunity to integrate educational systems with other services which are provide for general good of society. I believe that technology is no longer “nice to have” and that it can, when effectively deployed, enhance learning and provide increased motivation for learners. We have past the point where only computers are connected to the Internet – there is now a trend to connect input devices so that users can have access to an unimaginable volume of data. I am interested in exploring how this might start to open new doors for learners as all stages.

PP: Why I’m involved in Education Fast Forward?

JB: (a) My initial involvement with EFF was to help extend access to the debates by broadcasting them to the Internet in real time and provide input from the listening crowd. I see great value in having a group of dedicated and expert educationalists conducting a debate, which is made widely and conveniently accessible. I believe in the concept that “education is an enabler” and would like to see better access for young people throughout the world. EFF has been enlightening to me – particularly when I see the valuable contribution that the young debaters have made during events. I aim to continue my support for the events to make the issues raised in debates even more accessible and to challenge policy and decision makers around the world to provide better opportunities for todays young people.

PP: Why do issues of access in education still exist?

JB: (a) The world is a very diverse place, with a strong divide between the “have’s and the have not’s”. Ultimately, the provision and availability of access to education is in the hands of today’s political leaders. I don’t underestimate the difficulties that these decision makers face when resources are limited, but I do think we need to continually restate the value that having an educated population brings, and raising the priority of education to the highest possible level. The quality of life that we human enjoy is an extent a derivative of the circumstances into which they are born. Education can be the key to allow individuals to provide for themselves and give their families a better life. Having the choice to learn is in my view, a right that all humans should have access to. I firmly believe that exposing issues surrounding the quality of education provision is a worthy cause which the EFF debates makes a contribution to, I hope that the impact of EFF will continue to increase with the passage of time.

PP: What do you feel are the main stumbling blocks for achieving a quality education?

JB: (a) I firmly believe that the teacher who stands in front of the pupil is the single most important resource to influence the quality of education that will exist. Give a good teacher the opportunity to teach and the students will be motivated to learn, infected by the teacher’s presence. What defines a good teacher is difficult to quantify but I believe it’s a function of natural ability and having had access to high quality initial teacher training. So countries wanting to improve the quality of their education provision need to take account of the need to not only provide well resourced classrooms, but also to put in every classroom teachers who are well prepared to exploit and embed these resources into the process of learning. We should also keep in mind the fact that every student can also be a teacher; so encouraging group/social learning is also a good thing where on occasions, and in some contexts a learner will benefit from the input provided. Having a teaching professional who recognizes the value of student input to learning is in my view one of the keys to providing a productive learning environment. There is an old saying “you learn a concept best when you teach it” so it makes good sense to encourage learners to take on the role of teacher when appropriate.

PP: What one thing should education be doing right now to facilitate change for the better?

JB: (a) The answer to this question is multifaceted in that the answer for any particular country will be dependent on its current education state of development. In some cases the answer will be to provide opportunities for teachers to improve their competence, another is the need to invest in the country’s communication infrastructure so that learners and education can communicate and share using ICT, and in other’s there may be a need to improve the quality of the school buildings and upgrade them to support better and more integrated use of ICT. The one constant here is I think the need for review and change, which is driven by a desire to make education more accessible and of higher quality.

PP: There have been 6 EFF debates now. Which debate stands out for you and why?

JB: (a) For me all of the debates have made a positive contribution to the process of raising issues, which are important for today’s educators and political decision makers. Those events, which included contribution from learners, were I think the most significant. Young learners have a capacity to raise issues without to much influence for political concern, they are also inclined to state requirements from the standpoint of a young citizen where the reality of technological change is from them both acceptable/expected and natural. Many adults by comparison find todays rate of change at best unsettling and at worst frightening. I believe it to be essential that we scrutinize new technological developments and assess objectively their value as building blocks for tomorrow’s education landscape. We need to try all things and hold onto the things that are good.

PP: There have been some amazing guests on the EFF debates. Who would your dream guest be and why?

JB: (a) I would have liked to hear the contribution that Steve Jobs might have made to the ongoing debate. Not because he was known as an educationalist but rather because he seemed to have a capacity to drive innovation which meets the need of end users. Many of the technology innovations that Apple introduced through his leadership were arguably “ahead of their time”. I so feel that we need to drive educational innovation with our eyes firmly fixed on the views of the very people for whom the system exists – the learners. Today’s generation of learners is more adaptable and ready for change than another in the past, so we do need to have this firmly in view as we strive to evolve to the next stage.

PP: If EFF could achieve one thing what would you like it to be?

JB: (a) This is a very difficult question to answer; I am inclined to state that it needs “to make a difference for the better”. By its very nature EFF has a truly international focus and seeks to air and debate views and opinions to an international audience. Ultimately, if the foundation can achieve a position of respect and some influence amongst education leaders around the world, I think that would be a great achievement. To become a source of trusted advice and guidance to which education leaders will turn to as they work through their own strategic planning activities. To achieve this I feel that it will be necessary to distil the key issues from each debate and provide easy access to the discussion points, which were raised in each context. It would also be great to see key decision makers offering suggestions for topic which need to be debated so that the EFF agenda track issue which are “top of mind” for todays education decision makers.

Read more about Jim Buchan and EFF on Promethean Planet’s EFF pages.

EFF7 – Education Fast Forward – Debate on Access and Quality

EFF_LogoThe next EFF debate will take place on the 17th June 2013 and will be available to view online.  Here is a description about the topic of the discussion:

Quality and access to education continue to top the list of education priorities in countries across the world. According to UNESCO in 2010 59 million primary school-age children were not enrolled in school and 31 million primary school-age children had dropped out of school. An additional 32 million repeated a grade. These figures are truly shocking but is access to education enough? Students today live in an entirely different world to 10, even 5 years ago. The digitally connected world is bringing down boundaries and making education more fluid. Pupils are increasingly demanding a more personalised working environment with instant access to data and collaborative team work as the norm.

EFF7 will look at key questions such as How can we balance the needs of access? and quality and how do we measure quality? Can we achieve both? What will be the drivers and who will champion the students? What are we doing to address the issue of an education system that is still failing many students, leaving them poorly prepared for work or enterprise?

The event and Webcast will start at 13.30 UK time click here to view the agenda etc.

You can join the debate viewing the webcast and also making comments via twitter as the event proceeds.  Use the hash tag #EFF7 to contribute on Twitter and also to following the twitter stream.  The Twitter feed is monitored in real time and you many find your tweet being quoted in the live event.

Click here for access to more information about the event