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I’m not really very good at thinking through tax related issues, but when I listened to this recently released interview by Quartz with Bill Gates, his words made perfect sense to me.

If robots are taking over the jobs of workers why shouldn’t they pay the same kind of tax that would be paid by the people they replace?!

And … as Gates questions with that endearing giggle at the end of the video ….. it’s somewhat unlikely that robot companies are going to be outraged that there might be a tax?!

Gates’ thoughts on the subject have already drawn commentary with Forbes describing his ideas as “bafflingly simple”.  Headlines citing reference to this interview such as this one: Robots that steal human jobs should pay taxes  are bound to proliferate across the web over the coming week as more thought is given to Gates’ not so outrageous thoughts!

Interesting – no?

It’s a while since I last blogged about Google Doodles …..

Google Doodles

I really love Google Doodles!

They never fail to bring a smile to my face and I just love sharing what has become a morning ‘find’ with family, friends and work colleagues when I open Google.com on my laptop in the morning.  I’m in awe of both the creativity and the ingenuity of their creators……

In a nutshell, a Google Doodle, is a temporary graphic variation of the Google logo on its homepage and aims to honour or celebrate holidays, events, achievements and/or people.  Each of these special illustrations embed links with a host of information about the focus topic.  A Google Doodle appears for just one day, but is archived and available for viewing on the Google Doodle website.

Just last week I came across a fabulous entry about a woman by the name of Aletta Jacobs who is, among many other ‘firsts’, noted as a suffragette, a doctor and the inventor of the first effective contraceptive.

Clearly Aletta Jacobs (1854-1929) was a trailblazer for her time.  Just last week on February 9th, she was honoured for what would have been her 163rd birthday with a Google Doodle.

aletta-jacobs-163rd-birthday-5639465472098304-hp2x

Like so many of the links associated with Google Doodles, this one: Aletta Jacobs: 5 fast facts you need to know gives a thumbnail sketch of this amazing woman and her contribution to our world.

Google Doodles really do hold a goldmine of information.  Use them as an inspirational, quick look at information about a host of different topics that have been the feature of one of the many Google Doodles created over the years.  Search the Google Doodle website for previous creations dating back to 1998.  You’ll be surprised at the amount of information that can be gleaned from them in a very short time!

So  ….. could a 15 year old have really nailed the reason for Australia’s falling stakes in the PISA academic analysis game?

Our falling results since PISA’s inception should be a wake-up call to schools and teachers for the need to integrate more engaging ways to educate their older students on the realities of everyday life.

“Why 15-year-olds don’t care about Pisa rankings” Sydney Morning Herald, December 7, 2016 by Paloma Jackson-Vaughan

Arguments presented by 15 year old Paloma Jackson-Vaughan in her well publicized article late last year lays the blame on the fact that her peers simply can’t be bothered engaging with tests such as PISA.  It is, she contends, their lack of motivation to either sit for or apply themselves to the demands of tests that they perceive to have no relevance on their school marks that PISA test scores have fallen.  For good measure, she suggests that high levels of stress endured by this cohort also impact poor performance.

If, she suggests, students better understood the performance of the PISA tests, the results would be different.   After alluding to the fact that Australia lacks the kind of cultural expectation for nationwide academic success held by other countries, she concludes her article by laying the blame for falling standards on teachers’ collective inability to engage students in what she terms ‘realities of everyday life’.

A fairly harsh conclusion, which I am sure riled many a teacher who read these words just prior to the end of the 2016 academic year!

That Australia’s PISA performance has been steadily falling can’t be questioned though.  This short video, which was incorporated into the article by Paloma Jackson-Vaughan, gives a concise and simple explanation of both PISA and Australia’s performance over the last 16 years:

pisa-2017-report

Ranking scales of the 2015 PISA scores certainly reflects poorly on Australia.

ranking

While attempts to account for Australia’s falling achievement levels most often revolve around politics and funding given to education, could it be that this 15 year old has opened an unsavoury can of worms?  Could it really be that Australian students are increasingly disinterested in education to the point that they just don’t care?!

Moving from school to school throughout my teaching career, I’ve often been struck by the different ‘feel’ of the school and the different keenness level of students in one school over another.  Why is it, I’ve wondered, are students in one school so enthusiastic and engaged while others in other schools are totally laid back?

Is it the teachers who are at fault, the lesson content/presentation, the school admin, the students themselves, the students’ family socioeconomic status, the value given to school and education by the students’ family or is it just simply the amount of money available to create a more apt learning environment?  Why are some students more motivated and engaged than others?

So … the question remains.  Are the words of this 15 year old  truth or nonsense?

Let me know what you think.

3D Chocolate Printer!

My fascination with 3D printers never ends – after all its applications really are without end!

A while ago I fleetingly read about a pop up 3D restaurant in the newspaper, but with the restaurant scheduled to open in London, I didn’t really pay all that much attention.

Then I saw this video and ….. well ….. as I just said …… anything is possible!

But the magic of invention took a new turn when I read a post about an invention by a Dutch design studio which has created a compact 3D chocolate printer perfect for use in restaurants and homes.

Just look at it!  Apart from what it can do, this ‘must have’ kitchen accessory is sleek and sexy and I can already imagine it sitting on my kitchen benchtop!

3D chocolate printer

Most definitely, this is the most perfect ‘find’ for me which has popped up just in time for the summer holidays.   You don’t need much imagination to know what I will be spending the summer playing with!

See you back here in February 2017 when our school year ‘Downunder’ restarts.

Who doesn’t hate wasting time waiting in supermarket checkouts lines?

Well, with Amazon Go, shopping is about to become a breeze!  Just log onto your smartphone app as you walk in the door, pop the phone in your pocket and start shopping.  As items are put into your bag or trolley, they will be added to your virtual card.  Once you leave the store, the total cost will be tallied and added to your virtual card and then charged to your Amazon account.

Simple – no?!

Released on Monday this week, the video promoting the app has already amassed millions of hits!  This certainly seems like another wonderful way that technology is revolutionizing our day-to-day life.

Amazon Go will be released in early 2017.  Hopefully it won’t take too long before it’s available in Australia.

For me, the gift of blogging is providing myself with a vehicle to ‘think’ about issues and formalizing my own thoughts on different topics.  Some thoughts sit with me for a very long time before I get around to exploring them further by teasing them out in writing.

I’ve touched on this one many times over the life of this blog.  It’s always under the guise of encouraging lifelong learning.  My thoughts are many and varied – just use the keywords ‘lifelong learning’ to search NovaNews to find my thoughts and ideas.

I aspire to lifelong learning myself and fervently hope that all those of us in the teaching game also reach out to constantly challenge themselves with new thoughts and new ideas and to discover and savour the joy of lifelong learning.

At the end of it all though, is our stated aim to inspire the students in our schools to become lifelong learners so that they are able to set their own challenges and be lead along a path which may quench their thirst for learning.

Some time ago, I came across this fabulous infographic created by Mia MacMeekin. Just now I’ve been re-visiting it, thinking about the keywords used and the thought bubbles created under each.  This infographic, I realize,  encapsulates so many of the thoughts and words that I’ve been sharing here on NovaNews or spoken about to colleagues over a cuppa or presented at conferences or meetings.

innovation

How great it would be to inspire our students with the many thoughts included in this infographic.   Indeed how great it would be to inspire educators to get on board and modify some of their daily routines by considering and adopting some of these thoughts.

I’m not really a ‘car’ kind of person, so I don’t usually follow news articles about the car market.

But I couldn’t help stopping in my tracks just a couple of weeks ago when I saw an article which forecast that self driving cars will be on the market in 5 years.  Why?

1.  The thought of cars zipping around the roads was at one time a little overwhelming while at the same time reminiscent of that immortal TV show – The Jetsons.  – Stop for a tic to either wander down memory lane or discover this futuristic family for yourself!

2.  The second reason I stopped in my tracks was because I had the pleasure of going for a drive in one about a year ago – The Tesla Model S.  Even if I was a little nervous sitting in the front passenger seat while watching the driver’s hands be anywhere other than the steering wheel, it really was quite an awesome experience!

While the article I read seemed to be a promo for Ford’s predicted entry into the self drive market,  others including Google, Uber and BMW are starting to compete with Tesla who are so well advanced in the self driver market that they are now working on a more affordable version.

Self driving cars are, it is said, is a development that will place the incredible advances that have been made in artificial intelligence squarely into the lives of the masses.  But with this development, a whole range of ethical issues arise.  And like many of you, I’ve not considered these issues until I read a recent article in NovaNext: Can Autonomous Cars Learn to be Moral? (July 27, 2016)

As artificial intelligence develops increasingly subtle and complex decision making processes, it will become harder to determine who’s accountable for a machine’s actions: the engineer who designed it, the consumer who purchased it, or the machine itself.

The kinds of decisions that need to be incorporated into the ‘thinking’ of self driving cars are really quite scary.  If, for example, the self driving car is heading into a crash with another vehicle or an oncoming train should it veer sideways to avoid the crash knowing that the car and its driver will roll down the bank on the side of the road with the possibility of the driver being either injured or killed?

Referred to as The Trolley Problem, this kind of ethical decision has long been debated by philosophers:

Food for thought – no?