Originally uploaded by jmmcdgll

October Break in New York was excellent-I hadn’t been before, but everyone I spoke to said it was the best place ever ..and they were right. We (the family and best mate David, a regular visitor to NYC) didn’t stop all week, and were able to take in a lot of sights. Just to keep myself right, before I forget, here’s a highlight of the main things we did

Sunday-Arrived Newark, NJ and checked into our apartment, complete with bucket of chilled wine awaiting us. Went to evensong at St Thomas, Fifth Avenue and listened to organ recital by Eric Pulz. Swapped God for Mamon by visiting Trump Tower and browsed the five storey Nike Store. Can’t get over the height of the buildings. First visit to the neon in Times Square. (like, wow, man!) Boys loved M&M world

Monday-cruise on the Hudson and East River; afternoon in Central Park, took the boys boating, saw the Dakota Building, Ate at City Grill in Columba, west of Central Park.

Tuesday Wall Street, Ground Zero (still horrific to imagine the sheer terror of that day), walked over Brooklyn Brdge; went to Southport; time to take in some good clothes shop[ing at Century 21 and Abercrombie and Fitch; Linda and David went to Cleveland Orchestra concert in Carnegie Hall; coffee and ice cream in the celebrated Brooklyn Diner. Watched fil.ming of Gucci ad outside Trump Tower..

Wednesday-Metropolitan Museum and the Guggenheim; took in Schwarz toyshop. Went to Blue Smoke Diner for meal.

Thursday- American Museum of Natural History (spent most of the day there); David and I went to concert in Carnegie Hall to hear Cleveland perform Mahler’s Resurrection symphony-great atmosphere and excellent performance, but someone’s mobile went off during the quietest moment. (lots of shooshing from the circle!) Linda and David did the Empire State at night-no queues!

Friday-various shops-boys enjoyed 2nd visit to Abercrombie & Fitch, also went to Saks and Bloomingdales. Linda picked up some famous little brown bags. Took in Museum Of Modern Art. Went to see “Lion King “at night. Pizza tonight.

Saturday -very warm day; walked around Greenwich Village, enjoyed some street theatre, impromptu jazz, farmers market in Union Square and then up to FlatIron Building
Dinner in Brooklyn Diner, near Carnegie Hall. Late night window shopping in and around Times Square.

Sunday-Grand Central Station, Chrysler Building and then New Jersey transit back to Newark International.

Weather was great apart from an afternoon of really heavy rain on Friday. Not a great fan of undergrounds, I tended to take the buses, which were cheap and pretty quick; most;y however we walked, and just took in the atmos! Everyday we breakfasted at a local diner and I became hooked on French toast and syrup.
Overall a great experience (makes up for a wet week in Wiltshire last year.)

Online maps

As a geographer I am interested in the power of maps and particularly in the recent explosion of online maps. In some ways these maps have altered our concept of scale; we are no longer dependent upon single scaled maps, with a fixed representative fraction, but can use zoom facilities to enlarge or shrink areas with the tweak of a slider bar. I have been experimenting with representing spatial data by plotting the location of educational blogs, and extended this to create a distribution map of proposed “must-sees” when we are in New York next week. The map shows clusters of places and hopefully we can plan our transport arrangements more effectively.
I use multimap a lot, because I like the way you can superimpose the OS map on to the aerial photograph, which pupils always seem to find helpful-it’s particularly worthwhile in showing that OS map symbols often exaggerate the size and impact of particular buildings-telpehones look outsize when drawn on a map, while roads, brightly coloured in reds and yellows are less intrusive when looked at from above. It helps show that “white space” on a map is generally farmland-often geometric checkerboard squares of modern arable land.

A new style of map which my friend Jon Oates has drawn to my attention is OpenStreet maps. This is effectively a map style wiki, open source and available to all for editing. The beauty of it, I think lies at the microscale-using GPS you could carry out detailed surveys of, say rivers and minor topographic features (eg associated with deposition), or plot new housing or other developments not included yet on published maps. Archaeologists could add details of site surveys-small changes on relief may indicate remains of buildings, ramparts, barrows and other signs of habitation or funerary practice. Classes could learn much about surveying, the handling of sensitive instruments, the need for accuracy in measuring and recording data and the role of ICT in supporting educational research.

click here for access to Freemap, a blog devoted to OpenStreet mapping.

International Education

On behalf of the Scottish Council for Independent Schools (SCIS) I attended LT Scotland seminar, for Local Authority International Coordinators on Monday. I.E is part of my remit as newly appointed Depute Rector and I was delighted to have the opportunity of hearing at first hand what has been happening, and to meet a number of representatives from the Government, British Council and LT Scotland. Among the speakers were Professor Kay Livingstone, who has just taken up a chair at Glasgow , Tim Simons (for the Government) and Edna Paterson (Glasgow City)
People were very welcoming and almost immediately I was “persuaded” to join a planning group to organise the next such seminar. I was interested to learn about the Masterclasses, to be held in Stirling next month, with two teachers from each authority, plus SCIS having the chance to attend, with a view to disseminating information across their establishments.

We had some workshop time, where we examined some of the issues in more detail-among the points identified were the issue of “time” and convincing colleagues to take ownership of International Education; to ensure it was embedded in the curriculum and not just an optional extra, to satisfy some “tick box” culture. We asked what was the status of International Education with the HMIe as expressed in reports and in HGIOS 3. In other words, to what extent are the inspectors looking at International Ed? If is is not explicity mentioned in HGIOS, how will schools regard it? We also looked at how existing and future NQs might best reflect and support the culture of international education-question setters already have guidelines, but is more necessary?
I was very impressed by the work going on at Park School in Kilmarnock-you can find out more by clicking here.

We at Hutchie are developing links with a school in southern India and are looking forward to hosting three of their staff later in the month; two of our colleagues will make the return journey next year. We have also just said farewell to music students and staff from our exchange school in Nurnberg, who performed a concert for us earlier in the week. What I am keen to do is to evolve these links to maintain all year-round contacts, with eg e-pals and inyter school colloborative projects, say in joint creation of wikis and photoshare sites. I think it is also important to encourage colleagues to visit schools abroad and to engage with fresh or even challenging teaching styles and methodologies.

Urban Regeneration


Originally uploaded by jmmcdgll

Modern housing on the north bank of the Clyde on the site of the Meadowside Grain Terminal I took this on a perfect October’s morning as we sailed upriver on the Pride o’ the Clyde water bus with some of the Hutchie Higher Geography pupils. You can see the full set on my Flickr page. The running commentary is very good, pointing out the ever changing features of Glasgow’s waterfront-the old docks, cranes, wharfes, quays and dry docks that constituted the shipbuilding and trading landscape for over a century and the new high cost housing, media and leisure sector that has expanded along both sides of the river, ever since the Garden Festival of 1988.

Click here for a brief clip on regeneration of Glasgow harbour

Click here for a Scottish Enterprise clip on Braehead.