30 January 2014

Best protection is education

This is my article for the CoLRiC Newsletter, issue 59 (December 2013)

Last summer, a suicide of a 14-year old girl took place in Leicestershire; apparently, it was provoked by cyberbullying. Following the tragic event, tabloids demanded from the government to censor Ask.fm, a Latvia-based website extremely popular among teenagers. ‘Our children must be protected from irresponsible adults’, the message was. Among that storm, very few sober and reasonable voices were heard: the best protection is education.

By no means, this a controversial thought – to educate, not to ban. In 2010, Ofsted published a report, The Safe Use of New Technologies (Ofsted, 2010), based on research about schools’ engagement with the internet, emerging technologies and safeguarding. One of the key findings of that report sounds very much up to date now: Pupils in the schools that had ‘managed’ systems had better knowledge and understanding of how to stay safe than those in schools with ‘locked down’ systems. Pupils were more vulnerable overall when schools used locked down systems because they were not given enough opportunities to learn how to assess and manage risk for themselves.

CILIP East Midlands Branch: East Midlands RegionalMember Network Members Day...

CILIP East Midlands Branch:
East Midlands RegionalMember Network Members Day
: East Midlands Regional Member Network Members Day Derby QUAD Market Square, Derby DE1 3AS March 19 th 2014   9.30 (10...

My new desk

Few years ago, I read an interview with the Swedish ambassador to Belarus (my country of origin) who, among other things, described his working environment, including a desk with the adjustable top: in the morning, the ambassador would start working standing, then he would sit when he got tired. I thought then it was so cool, so Scandinavian - a small difference making life and work easier and more comfortable.

I remembered about that interview when few months ago I realised that long bus commute, in addition to hours sitting at the desk in my office, had started affecting my well-being. I used boxes with paper reams to raise the computer screen and keyboard - to work standing - until I spotted a purpose-made desk in the college store room. It was used by a member of staff who needed it for health reasons; now I have inherited it.

I love my new desk (I keep the old one too - in the afternoon, I sit down now and then), I certainly have developed an emotional affinity to it. I don't waste time on sitting dawn and standing up, my conversations with colleagues don't involve sitting around the table as often as it used to be and we've even had few formal meetings by my desk and computer. Needless to say, I feel physically better than used to too.

I wish all office furniture catalogues had those "Swedish" desks and employees could request them if they wished or needed so.