Friday, September 29, 2006

Multiple intelligences: lifelong garments woven on the loom of youth

Intelligence is, they say, a matter of reaching sensible conclusions on the basis of incomplete evidence, but intelligence is surely also a matter of creating. This creating may take the form of drawing a picture, writing a poem or story, writing a song – anything in fact that involves the seven multiple intelligences posited by Dr. Gardner, and many others since.

These intelligences may well have been ‘woven on the loom of youth’ – encouraged by caring parents and insightful teachers, but they may well have been ‘woven in the womb’ that is to say that some may be innate characteristics. I suppose it depends on whether you subscribe to the ‘nature’/’nurture’ view of the origins of personality traits and abilities.

Let us here subscribe to both and say that those talents that were God-given should be encouraged and added to, and those that a person has developed since childhood, possible the products and fruits of such encouragement should be further nurtured until they blossom.

Education is surely about both of these activities – encouraging what is innate and bringing on what is learned. It is about something else too – helping a child to search and find new potential intelligences.

At school, I hated Art classes, mostly because of the teacher who sat at the front of the class and only seemed to like those pupils who showed some aptitude or willingness. I mustn’t have shown any of either and so I was both ignored and ostracized, which shows a terrible failing in any teacher – only teaching those who he thinks he can teach.

In these days of talk of human rights, democratic values and universal education, it seems quite horrible that a teacher would do such a thing.

However, who can truthfully say that they never concentrate on the better, more attentive students in class? Human nature militates against it being any other way, but most teachers are aware of their failings and try to be fair in allotting their attention.

I think we must go farther than merely being fair with our time – we must create classrooms in which the young can explore in any direction rather than in ones that we teachers lay down paths to. It is in the laying down of directions, and banning others or at least not encouraging others to be followed that we do the most damage to the discovery of students’ potential multiple intelligences,
Robert L. Fielding

Letting your sub-conscious do the thinking

June 2, 2006, The Gulf News carried an article entitled, ‘Seeking a solution? Sleep over it!’
Quoting various sources, (the journal, ‘Science’/’Trust Your Gut’ by Lynn Robinson/’Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking’ by Malcolm Gladwell), the article makes the point that in the decision making process, it is always useful to take a little more time to reach that decision; to ‘sleep on it’.

As the clinical psychologist, Michael Horowitz says, “We need that quieter, non-conscious process that lets us integrate different sources of content.”

It is in sleep that we let go; Shakespeare referred to sleep as, ‘balm of hurt minds, great Nature’s second course, chief nourisher in life’s feast, that knits up the ravell’d sleeve of care’ (Macbeth Act 2, Scene 2) It is in sleep when ideas that may have been thought irrelevant in daylight hours, achieve a prominence that becomes significant.

Dreams weave a fabric of notions that swiftly dissolve upon waking. Acting upon problems and predicaments that have engaged the conscious mind though, this fabric, not normally accessible to our conscious mind, soon makes itself known in the furthering of steps in the decision making process.

In the act of creating, thinking through ideas for stories, for example, the sub-conscious can and will create links that were not seen or divined, even when concentration was at its peak.

That is the whole point in letting the sub-conscious do the work; relieved of the day to day routines to work on, the mind becomes free to coalesce, which allows thoughts to gel in ways that was impossible at times of heavier load, as it were.

Speaking personally, I delay action in my writing to allow myself the chance to draw upon this most imperceptible of resources; my sub-conscious mind, and it works. Sometimes, I will wake up with the ‘problem’ more clearly delineated, at others, it will dawn (a good word) upon me that the path I was taking is not the optimum one; that factors other than the ones I had considered previously were more pertinent to my finding a solution.

Assistant clinical professor at UCLA, Dr. Judith Orloff, claims in her books, that ‘because what she terms the linear mind is shut off during sleep, pure intuition takes over,’ which is a more scientific way of stating my former points about the advantages of sleeping on a problem to arrive at more creative, and for that matter, more lasting solutions to the many problems that beset each and every one of us in the course of a normal day.
Robert L. Fielding

Monday, September 25, 2006

More links

Links to useful sites

1. Online etymological dictionary:
2. An English language interactive website
3. Blackwell Publishing – List of academic journals:
4. Ohio State University, a place to start your research:
5. The New York Times Knowledge Network homepage:
6. Personal Health Advice and Information:
7. The Phrase Finder:
8. The UGRU Online Journal:
9. A world of words in Ask Oxford:
10. Guide to old poetry online:
11. History online at
12. Writers Room at the BBC:
13. How to create your own blog – start here:-
14. Dictionaries:
15. Collocation Search (for teachers and students):
16. Visit UGRU’s Concordance Website at
17. Career options:
18. Index of English Literature:
19. Food and Nutrition Information Centre:
20. Resources for teachers -
21. Spelling Courses:
22. A great site for fun with words:
23. Ideas For Writers:
24. English Dictation Exercises:
25. Links and Resources for Writers:
26. Science collections:
27. More on SPELLING:
28. Stress Management:
29. Grammar Resource for teachers:
30. Help with writing paragraphs and essays:
31. Website design tutorial:
32. Word Games:
33. Links for word sources:
34. Writers’ News:
35. Writers Digest:
36. Essay Writing tips:
37. Derbyshire – My personal favourite:
38. Take a look at my part of England:
39. Ginger’s Tail & Other people-Other Worlds by Robert Leslie Fielding:
Good Luck

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The needs of partially sighted students

The needs of partially sighted students: Special needs workshop
September 21, 2006
Led by Caroline White-Gottsche

Like any university or school, UAEU has some students who are partially sighted, defined as people with ‘best corrected visual acuity of 20/70 or less in the good eye (, in plainer language, students who, even when wearing corrective lenses, cannot read standard newsprint. (ibid)

Beginning with a profile of a typically partially sighted student, as outlined above, Ms. White-Gottsche mentioned that there are degrees of visual impairment in our students, right up to those who are totally blind, while others are able to read with difficulty, often with the help of equipment especially designed to assist such students to read.

The University’s Zayed Centre for Special Needs has such equipment for students with such needs. The centre has facilities such as the Clearview Spectrum, which enlarges print from the original document, to Supernova and Ibsar, which are computer programs that read out text to students experiencing difficulties reading from a computer screen.

Later, and having worked in smaller groups, teachers outlined their own expectations of areas of teaching with students with special, visual needs, comparing them with students’ own stated expectations.

Every group reported that the provision of clear, written assessment of the specific nature and extent of the needs of individual students would greatly assist them in their work.

Similarly, those teachers involved in working with students with special needs, added that little in the way of training was provided beforehand, and that consequently, they felt that their students were not getting the help and assistance they required in the classroom.

Some pointed out that there was hardly time to devote to such students at the expense of time for the other students in the class, and that students with needs often relied on classmates to get by.

However, Lisa Barlow also pointed out that having partially sighted students integrated into normal classes, rather than being segregated and given one-to-one tuition, was in fact much more preferable. She went on to relate how students acquired social skills as well as academic ones in the classroom.

As far as students’ stated expectations were concerned, these ranged from reports that some students expected their teacher to provide everything to get them through, while others said that partially sighted students were often too self-conscious to use their own equipment in class, or to be treated differently to other students.

In particular, for example, students seemed to loathe the provision of enlarged text on A3 paper, stating that it made them embarrassed in front of their peers.

In the open discussion that followed, teachers agreed that providing students and teachers with pre-course training would benefit all.

Dan Niles mentioned the website of the Hadley School for the Blind - which has a version for lower vision – white text on black background. This site is totally free and provides details of courses, fun events, support, resources, as wsell as useful links to the world of care providers for people with special needs.

The Centre for the Partially Sighted at carries services on counseling, rehabilitation, and low vision evaluations, and an impression of what having visual impairment can mean for those who suffer from it.

Information from the Centre for the Partially Sighted includes advice for teachers wishing to test students with sight impairment. These include:
 Provision of large print texts
 Giving the test orally to the student
 Allowing extended time
 Taping the questions and allowing the student to tape or write the answers
 Providing a reader or writer for the test
 Allowing the test to be taken on a Clear View machine (such as those provided in the Zayed Centre)
This site provides printable versions of articles on text guidelines, lighting, and developing your child’s vision, amongst others, as well as useful links to other sites.

Robert Leslie Fielding

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Useful links for teachers and advanced learners

Links for teachers and advanced learners

Robert Leslie Fielding
Following on from my page of links for learners of English, here is a page of great links for the rest of us – teachers and advanced learners – people!

Some need you to register – provide a username/password etc – some links lead to paysites – some are totally free – all are great.

1. A page to save your favorites and access anywhere.
2. Gulf News ‘Notes’
3. APA format details and style guide, and much more
4. – A massive list of journals published by Blackwell.
5. - Writing World – everything for the writer
6. Special search engines
7. Phrase finder
8. - BBC Writers’ Room
9. - BBC News homepage
10. - Copyright free photos
11. - Quotation page
12. - Origins of words and expressions
13. - Great site – fun with words
14. - Create a graph
15. - British Library archives
16. - Lots to read
17. - Lots of things related to English language teaching and learning
18. - Start your own blogsite here
19. - Coping with stress
20. - A huge source of information on all sorts of topics
21. - Links to British news
22. - A huge collection of glossaries
23. - Online newspapers worldwide
24. – Websites for kids
25. – Grammar site with links
26. - And finally, lots of stuff from yours truly!
Robert Leslie Fielding

Useful links for students

Links for students


Robert Leslie Fielding

You’ve heard of the paperless office, now it’s the teacherless classroom – online lessons.

Here are some great links to get you going. Try them out. They are free. Make them your favorites. If they don’t work, or aren’t useful for you, don’t use them – it’s that simple.

This site has lots of interactive grammar exercises for students.
This site is a good place to begin research.
This site has links to dictionaries and to a corpus of language.
This online dictionary has a quick search engine on the home page, but for anything more complicated, you have to register. It is free.
Listen to dictation exercises on this site.
Interactive spelling exercises and lots of tips and information on spelling.
Lots of help with vocabulary on this site.
9. Interactive word games
Great interactive spelling games
12. Lots of help with writing introductory paragraphs etc.
Interactive grammar exercises
Have fun – learn English at home.
Robert Leslie Fielding

Thursday, September 14, 2006

‘Developing Critical and Creative Thinkers’

‘Developing Critical and Creative Thinkers’ – Keynote address by Dr. Robert Swartz
Faculty & Staff Luncheon
Intercontinental Hotel Ballroom
Thursday 14th September 2006

Giving us sustenance of a different type to the excellent fare put on at the Intercontinental Hotel, Al Ain, and sandwiched in between UGRU Dean, Dr. Mohammed Al Zarooni’s welcoming Introductory Remarks and the Annual Long Service Awards at UGRU, Dr. Robert Swartz, gave us plenty to digest.

Drawing upon his experiences entering the UAE in Dubai, Dr. Swartz outlined his thoughts on what can be done to encourage our students to think creatively and critically.

Dr. Swartz held that, as some think, that although thinking is a natural process, it is the conscious processes that go into mature decision making that can indeed be fostered in our classrooms.

Adding that students think things out, often without any help, sometimes to the amazement of their teachers,, but that nevertheless, we should build in activities that do indeed aid such thinking skills.

This seemed to naturally follow on what Dr. Mohammed Al Zarooni had said earlier, when he spoke of the need to “utilize the resources” available. Dr. Mohammed revealed that 10,000 students had been educated by teachers and staff in the previous academic year, and many more are already enrolled to receive tuition again this semester.

Week 2 of the new semester is a timely intervention on Dr. Swarz’s behalf, with seminars and workshops already completed for teachers instructed in how to aid critical thinking in the classroom. Dr. Swartz will follow up his workshops, seminars and this talk today, by observing teachers so instructed.

If we can encourage our students to be ‘proud of their ideas’, success will undoubtedly follow in the coming programmes.
Robert Leslie Fielding

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Give your writing lift-off

Keeping a daily journal - a sort of diary - is a good way of improving your writing. It's also a way of remembering the past and not forgetting the future - the things you have to do tomorrow, this afternoon, or next week.

Blogging is a way of sharing this journal - a bold step, but one you will never regret. Writing something that you know is going to be read by other people is one of the best ways I know to give a young writer the confidence she needs to improve.
Robert Leslie Fielding

Monday, September 04, 2006

Know who you are writing to before you start to write.

Class 923 - hello - read this - it should help you with your homework!
Look at the two letters below. Who do you think they are addressed to? Why has each letter been written? What do you notice about the language, the vocabulary, grammar, word and sentence length?
Dear Sir,
I would like to recommend Mr. Tim Shaw to you. Tim is 29 years of age, and lives with his wife and two children in Dubai, where he is a systems analyst for a major software company operating out of the Middle East.

Tim has a PhD in Computer Programming from Aston University in the UK. He has a great deal of experience; I believe he has held his present position for the past four years, and only wishes to leave to broaden his already extensive experience.

Tim is a very responsible and reliable person, who is both scrupulously honest and very trustworthy indeed.
I have consequently no hesitation in recommending him to you, and hope you are able to meet him.
Yours sincerely

Robert L Fielding

Hi there,
Hope you’ve met Tim. He’s a really nice guy, 29, married to Joyce, they've a couple of great kids, by the way.

He lives in the Gulf – Dubai, I think, and he’s got a great job out there – something to do with computers. Tim got a good degree from Aston Uni in Birmingham, and since then he’s been working in Dubai for four years, working hard and enjoying life. He wants to get on, which is why he wants out.

Tim’s dead dependable – you can trust him, that’s why I think you should try to talk to him – you’ll like him.
See you later.

Rob Fielding

Robert L Fielding