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I try to avoid politics on this blog and in some ways, what I write in this posting is not party political.  It seems very strange that when the government is making such consequential decisions, it is so desperate to avoid scrutiny from MPs or the public.

Scrutiny from "critical friends" and perhaps even critiques from people who are not so friendly can help develop better ideas and avoid mistakes.  I have, for example, written materials and been given feedback on these.  This feedback has often pushed me to develop better work as well as simply pointing out mistakes, mistypings etc.  Similarly group discussions can ideally lead to exploratory talk where ideas and solutions are produced that are better than any one person can produce.

MPs are not being given time to read the Bill in detail and this is simply bad practice for effective decision making.    This coincides with a period when many students are writing their first assignments of the academic year (if they are on J presentations).  I and many other tutors are advising them to make sure that they read carefully and consider what they are reading from different angles and in a critical way.

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Patrick Andrews

National Associate Lecturers in Languages Conference Part 2, Stephen Bax

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Thursday, 28 Apr 2016, 14:35

The second talk at the conference was by Stephen Bax, a fairly recently appointed professor at the OU.

He gave some background on his experience and interests.  He has experience of working in Arabic speaking and also studied the language. It seems that this interest in Arabic and the Arabic speaking world might become influential within the OU in the near future - I hope so as it is clearly an interesting and important part of the world.

He discussed his interest in languages more generally and referred to the mysterious language, Voynich (the name sounds Russian as "voina" means "war" but I think this is just a coincidence).  Apparently, it still has not been decoded although he has attempted parts of the manuscript.

He then referred to his role in encouraging research and referred to the important research that the OU is engaged in.  This is highlighted at http://www.open.ac.uk/creet/main/research-themes/language-and-literacies  He suggested that research is not intrinsically complicated although some of the details are.  He explained about his interest in eye movements while reading.  He referred to some very sophsticated equipment that can track these movements and showed some of the results demonstrating that effective readers move around a text rather than in a linear way.  This is quite familiar in principle from what I have read on reading as a skill but it would be useful to know more of the detail.

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