Life and style

‘Abuse of power’: should universities ban staff-student relationships? | Education

Within weeks of starting her postgraduate degree, Allison Smith, then a student at Sussex University, entered a relationship with her lecturer. They had met at an induction party celebrating the new term with drinks and fireworks, where she found him “drunk and loud” but not inappropriate. He later approached her on Twitter. “That escalated quickly into flirtatious talk,” she says. Her lecturer, Lee Salter, assured her that the university approved of the relationship and said it would be “fine as…

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My day of two halves – from Bristol City to Balliol College | Education

I had a funny old day on Saturday. It began with a melee at a football ground in Bristol, and ended at a dinner at Balliol College, Oxford where I tried to hold my own in conversation with an economist, a cardiologist and an endocrinologist. There wasn’t a lot of time between these two engagements, so I had to wear my dinner suit beneath my big West Brom coat. As we won 3-0, I suppose I will now have to…

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‘I was always told I was unusual’: why so few women design video games | Education

There’s a stereotype that women don’t play video games, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. The numbers don’t lie: 52% of gamers were female in the UK’s last major study in 2014. But if we look at the proportion of female workers in the games industry, it’s just 28% in the UK, and roughly 20% worldwide. If so many women are playing games, why are so few making them? The problem lies in the feedback loop of under-representation…

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Flying solo: self-employment will change you – but not in the ways you think | Life and style

Feeling unappreciated by your employer? Struggling to muster enthusiasm for the work piling up on your desk and flooding your inbox? Perhaps it’s time to make a change, and join the numerous other disgruntled employees who, as jobs site Indeed notes, mark the early parts of the year with a new determination to find a more fulfilling career. Maybe you’re looking to jump ship, or maybe this is the year that you will finally “go out on your own” and…

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Shouting at your kids can damage their brains | Education

I thought I was impervious to those “research shows . . .” scare stories, but this one got to me. Shouting at children, according to a recent study by psychiatrists at a hospital affiliated to Harvard Medical School, can significantly and permanently alter the structure of their brains. It was only inordinate self-restraint – of the kind I never display towards my kids – that stopped me marching them straight off for a brain scan. Ours is a Sturm und…

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Readers say thank you to the people who saved and changed their lives | Life and style

‘I’m proud to be your daughter’Gill Fitzgerald on her mum Dear Mum, You constructed the foundations on which I built my life. Because of the war you missed so much of your education. When you were aged 10 to 14, a teacher came to your house once a week. A few other children joined you, so the council provided your family with extra coal to keep the teacher and her part-time pupils warm. You valued education so much that it…

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Thank you to … my autistic son’s teacher, to whom I’m grateful every day | Life and style

Dear Emma, How funny that it feels entirely normal writing to you. We already write to each other, I realise with a jolt of familiarity, every single day of term. In the age of email, I know your handwriting as intimately as my own. When my son arrives home I fall on his bag with a hunger – OK, nosiness – reserved for parents seeking news of their child’s average, hopefully unremarkable school day. I rummage through the detritus of…

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Thank you to … my much-missed friend, who believed in me more than anyone had before | Life and style

Dear Helen, I am writing to thank you, with all my heart, for the guidance, unswerving friendship, endless laughs and crazy disco-dancing to Kool and the Gang, spanning 40 years. We first met when I, a stroppy, 16-year-old wiseass, tried to psych out you, a callow, 25-year-old teacher, on your first day as my sixth-form tutor. I was impressed that you did not flinch under my well-honed barrage of sarcastic put-downs, but instead made me laugh out loud. I was…

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A delightful day with David Bellamy | Letter | Education

I have very happy memories of David Bellamy (Obituary, 13 December) visiting our first school (for children aged four to eight) in Binley Woods, Warwickshire, in 1983. A letter from the children asked him to visit their small copse in the grounds they cared for and a pond they had created. He came for two, but stayed for three hours, talking to all 150 children and sharing their enthusiasm for natural history. He lay on the floor with the reception…

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‘Victor Hugo becomes a sex god in my mind’ – how to get better at French | Education

I used to think I was pretty great at French: I could handle a subjunctive and disdained the myriad mangled pronunciations of “millefeuille” on Masterchef. I lived in French-speaking Brussels for 12 years and have a French husband who still tolerates me misgendering the dishwasher after 24 years. My inflated sense of my abilities was bolstered over the years by compliments from surprised French people. Admittedly, the bar is pitifully low for Brits speaking a foreign language: like Samuel Johnson’s…

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Why parents in a school district near the CIA are forcing tech companies to erase kids’ data | Education

Parents at a public school district in Maryland have won a major victory for student privacy: tech companies that work with the school district now have to purge the data they have collected on students once a year. Experts say the district’s “Data Deletion Week” may be the first of its kind in the country. It’s not exactly an accident that schools in Montgomery county, in the suburbs of Washington DC, are leading the way on privacy protections for kids.…

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Donald Trump: is there anything sadder than a chump who thinks he’s a champ? | Barbara Ellen | Opinion

Oh dear. Was President Trump’s tweet of his head digitally added on to the body of Rocky Balboa/Sylvester Stallone rather too psychologically revealing? The image seemed to say everything you needed to know about Trump’s delusional self-image. Well, I say “needed”. How much does anyone need to know about any man – world leader or regular Joe – who mistakes male heft and musculature for true power? Before we begin, a minor quibble: the tan of Rocky’s body isn’t an…

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Is misused neuroscience defining early years and child protection policy? | Education

“Neuroscience can now explain why early conditions are so crucial,” wrote Graham Allen and Iain Duncan Smith in their 2010 collaboration, Early Intervention: Good Parents, Great Kids, Better Citizens. “The more positive stimuli a baby is given, the more brain cells and synapses it will be able to develop.”  Neuroscience is huge in early years policy. This week, in what’s been characterised as the largest shake-up of family law in a generation, the 26-week time limit for adoption proceedings has…

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Children should learn mainly through play until age of eight, says Lego | Education

Parents are squeezing the role of play out of their children’s lives in favour of the three ‘R’s as they try to prepare their offspring for a competitive world, according to the head of Lego’s education charity arm. A lack of understanding of the value of play is prompting parents and schools alike to reduce it as a priority, says Hanne Rasmussen, head of the Lego Foundation. If parents and governments push children towards numeracy and literacy earlier and earlier,…

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Shakira: ‘I needed surgery – or divine intervention’ | Music

There was a time, in late 2017, when Shakira thought she might never sing again. After suffering a haemorrhage in her vocal cords, she could barely speak. “I always thought there were going to be things in my life that would go away, like beauty, youth, all of that stuff,” she says. “But I never thought that my voice would leave me, because it’s so inherent to my nature. It was my identity. So when I couldn’t sing, that was…

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Parents: not happy about something at school? Here’s how to complain | Education

One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was from a friend in the restaurant business. If I were planning to complain about any part of my meal or service, he said, I should wait until I had eaten all I was going to eat that night. He illustrated this warning with examples of what can happen to food prepared for awkward customers, and so I’ve followed this advice ever since. It’s a good principle: don’t complain…

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