The rooftop garden is for sharing

I went to the Daktuin this week which has opened again. I went there last year and I was very impressed then. This year it’s bigger and better. with a wider variety of things to do and more visitors, more supporters and more plants. They do a lot for making the university more sustainable and the people who set this up are a very inclusive bunch.

It was a little gloomy when I was up there and not very warm, which may explain the relative quiet for a weekday lunch time. But I did see other people and they were chatting to each other, probably about sustainability or other world issues.

image

A speaker was due to appear at 13:00 and as I sat there reading a book from 13:00 to 13:15 nobody appeared. I had to leave because I had a meeting to go to later and wondered what went wrong.

The speaker did speak. I saw a picture of him doing it on Instagram later. I guess it’s a laid back kind of place.

The speaker incidentally was a vegan philosopher. I came across an interesting talk he did about why people should all be vegans. Take a look if you have an hour and a half left somewhere. The part about Jeremy Bentham and the capacity to suffer is quite interesting.

I will definitely go up on the roof again while it’s still open. But next time I’ll plan it a little better.

Design 101

Today, marks the beginning of Design 101. The Massive Open Online Course I’m taking. 101 days of learning about design. I absolutely love it already and I can’t wait to find out what I will learn along the way. Already I’m being bombarded with references to interesting people and things. It feels like they are coming at me from every angle. And there is an active forum with many of the 27000 participants who are all as excited as I am about taking part in this course.
Our first assignment was to complete a multiple choice quiz which was done in 5 minutes. All the questions were numbered one. And none had a right or wrong answer. For example:

Do you believe in quizzes?
A. Yes very much so
B. No not at all
C. I’m taking this quiz, so I must do a little
D. This question annoys me.

After that we got the time to go through the course materials and get acquainted with the course environment online and to find out who else was taking the course. There are people from all over the world. From Hawaii to Iran.
From the information I have been given already I have found interesting books to read, (Design as Art, by Bruno Munari), songs to listen to (Absolute Beginners by David Bowie) and objects to think about. (the perpetual calender by Enzo Mari) I don’t know why but I feel like this course has opened up a whole new path to follow. That may be a dangerous thing to say and it may not be true, It’s only one course after all, but It was a long time since I was this excited about learning something new.

This is when I found out about this course. With other reasons why it may be benificial.

University of NL

Hearing music can make you emotional. What is happening in your brain when you listen to music and it chokes you up? It’s these questions that are answered in the video below. (in Dutch)

In the same video the professor discusses studies which have found that you get the most rounded experience of music if you play it. This is a no brainer really, but because you are using your hands to play the music, which you see in front of you, you can hear it and if you play it loud enough you can feel it. You can’t taste or smell it but most of your senses are involved and that is why your brain is being stimulated in many different ways. Signals are being sent from side to side, from lobe to cortex and back, your brain is developing. This can only be good for you. Apparently people who play the piano from an age that they actually understand what they are doing are better at understanding things like language.

As we get older and our brain develops further who grow the traits which we collectively call wisdom. It’s the connecting of parts of the brain which hadn’t been connected by circuits yet. These circuits then repress negative felling making you happier or at least more accepting of good things then before. That is why old people are almost always content with the life they led.

This is one of the first lectures in the series by the newly formed Universiteit van Nederland (University of the Netherlands) and it’s a fun way to learn new things. Long may it continue.

 

Iversity

I tweeted this a few days ago:

 

Roughly translated it says that the German Iversity is giving ECTS (European study credit) for people who successfully complete one of their MOOCs.

It’s the first time I’ve seen Europeans do this. I’ve seen examples of American initiatives like this. It means you don’t need to be a student at a university any more to get university credit. It does not mean you can get an actual degree yet, but if this trend develops at the same speed, who knows? That could save people a lot of money on a higher education. That is exciting news for people like me who work in higher education. There is a whole cesspool worth of discussion about whether or not MOOCs are a good thing. The main problem is that the universities are paying the professors for work that is not necessarily part of the university’s official curriculum. Or the professors are doing the MOOCs in their own time and their proper work suffers as a result.

Anyway I took a look at what kind of courses they offer at Iversity and even though the amount of courses is limited there are definitely one or two fun looking ones. Some are more academic then others. I’m going to take a long hard look at this one over the next few days to decide if I want to do it. I think I might learn some cool things in the process.

If only I still had The List

After visiting the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam this week I was thrown back to my days as a MA student and especially to the course I took on genre painting. There were many paintings there which I had read about, even written about and I could tell Anne what I knew about them.

There was enough to tell, but so much had drifted out of my memory. I was a little disappointed.

As a student I could have read a lot more than I did. In my first or second week I was given an endless list of material books, articles and more If only I still had that list! Maybe I still do? Why would I throw that away?
2013-09-14 14.24.52

Anyway I had a thought. Normally as a student I would do the required reading. I’m a slow reader, it was more than enough. But I would always read it twice if I thought I really needed to know the ins and outs. Now I think I would have done better to read more of the optional reading instead of re-reading the required stuff. If I had read more broadly I would have come across the same topics and authors probably and maybe I would have understood the required reading just as well as when I was re-reading it, if not better. This was one of the frustrations I had as a student, the time pressure. I wanted to read a lot, just not what was listed for that week. I was bored to easily. I enjoyed analyzing what I’d read, but not in a 10 page essay. The way academic learning is structured does not suit me.

Now I am no longer a student but there are still times when I want to be able to study. Like when I come back from the museum. The current state of the internet makes this possible of course, but where would I start? I could go to the library and ask the subject librarian. I could go online and do a search, but I want older material, which more often than not hasn’t been scanned or published online.

Good for me that I found that list!