Teflpedia:Teachers' room/Archive/2010-2011

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Conversation questions[edit]

AS those who know something about the net may be aware, I'm able to see what search terms drive traffic to the site. "Copyright in English language teaching" is always a favourite as are our various conversation question articles.

As of early Feb 2010 - which is shaping up to be a very active month - main drivers for conversation questions are: Business, holidays, global warming and banking.--Bob M 18:24, 5 February 2010 (UTC)

Question for the teachers here (or anyone in general, really)[edit]

I was just wondering what the contributors to this site, as well as the readers of this site in general, thought about the quality of the United States' public education system. Do you think it is effective as a "one size fits all" system, does it need fundamental change? If it needs fundamental change, are private schools and home-schooling the solution? As an American who attended American public schools for the bulk of my pre-college schooling, I'm curious what the opinions here are. Gooniepunk2005 00:58, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

I'm afraid that I know very little about it. The only thing that I do know is that the US seems to do surprisingly badly in international comparisons - but I have no idea why this should be.--Bob M 11:49, 12 May 2010 (UTC)
Greetings Gooniepunk2005. As you asked for opinions, am willing to go for it. Although I have no direct experience of US schooling, my evidence is based on reliable sources who had no need or wish to be critical. I know two high school kids with average marks here in Spain who got top marks during their respective stays in the States (and were both very surprised at having to do far less work - as were their parents). In both cases they considered their time at US high schools vacations in comparison to the time they spent here. I also know two electronical engineers who did masters at US universities and both were surprised at the low level of effort required. That said, a deceased friend of mine was a professor of Spanish literature at Chicago and had the most amazing level of knowledge and culture, but whether that was a result of his own abilities, his education, or is the exception that proves the rule, I know not.
On the other hand, as the victim of a UK secondary modern school in the 70s, I doubt that anything could be worse. While the school excelled nationally at just about every sport, of the 120 kids in our course, only six of us went on to higher education (whether all went on to university, I don't know 'cos our ways separated). But I digress. So, while generalising is not where it's at, notwithstanding any of the above, and despite the typical cries of "the education system is far worse now than it was in my time", my kids, here in Spain, aged 13 & 16, are enjoying, literally and figuratively, a far better education than what I done got in every possible aspect, with incredibly dedicated and experienced teachers in every subject, except English (as a foreign language) - but that ain't an issue for them or me. A reflection of the generally low level of English teaching in this country.
Returning to your original public vs. private education, this is very much an issue here in Spain, with most of the population erroneously believing that private is better. They have all been brainwashed into thinking that private by definition must be better - as in private health - but I have much direct evidence to the contrary. Anecdotal, of course, but interesting nonetheless. A friend of mine, director of HR for a US multinational here in Madrid, does not hire graduates from Spanish private universities. Another friend, director of a doctorate programme, is increasingly concerned about the low level of work being submitted by students from private universities here. Could go on for hours, but...-- 16:29, 15 May 2010 (UTC)--Technopat 16:37, 15 May 2010 (UTC) (Thought I was logged in)
Yes ... but ... I taught some engineering lecturers at the University of (Name Redacted) a couple of years ago. Interesting gig. But the thing that stuck in my mind was the very low opinion they had of their students. They maintained that standards were constantly being lowered so as to ensure a consistent stream of students - a stream constantly reduced by the low Spanish birthrate. Of course it could have been the old "It wasn't like that when I were a lad" syndrome. --Bob M 17:34, 15 May 2010 (UTC)
Undoubtedly the case for both private & public universities here in Spain. In the case of the former, ROI for newly set up businesses, and in the case of the latter, newly created public universities in newly created (relatively) autonomous communities. But I fear our US-based readers will be bored by this local slant... Just a quick note: two of Madrid's public universities, the Autonoma and the Complutense, have hugely differing reputations in those subjects they both offer.--Technopat 18:16, 15 May 2010 (UTC)
Thank you for your responses gentlemen. I assure you both that I wasn't expecting you to have intimate knowlegde of the US public school system; I was just curious if others outside of the US had similar thoughts to mine. As it turns out, the bulk of people seem to agree with me (I am, by the way, a product of US public education) that US public schools spend waaaay too much time talking down to their students and discouraging actual acceleration in exchange for an attempt at a one-size-fits-all learning model. Thus, that model is, in my humble opinion, a failure at best, and some of the most intelligent people I knew were underachievers simply because of sheer boredom. On the other hand, students would be in advanced learning courses who would, based on things like SAT and ACT scores, should not have been placed there at all. Gooniepunk2005 00:17, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
By the way, I suppose it's common knowledge, but I thought I'd better mention it: public school. Re. your "some of the most intelligent people I knew were underachievers" I'm pretty sure they would have been bored sick wherever they went to school, whether private or public. Around half of my friends were privately schooled, and with the exception of one of 'em, none are distinguishly more "intelligent" than the . Another matter is if they could have had access to private tuition at home, a sort of tailor-made education, which is great for cultivating geniuses, but lousy for cultivating social skills. One typical phenomenon observed here in Spain is that pupils at private schools score high marks while at their private school, with heavy emphasis on rote learning, and suddenly take serious drops when entering the public education system at university, for example. Likewise, their concept of teamwork apparently leaves much to be desired, as they are often more accustomed to having private teachers to spoon feed 'em. Another aspect to be taken into consideration is the dumbing down of society, a process that commences at school where, again, learning is not based on satisfying curiousity, but on passing exams. Which takes us full circle again to rote learning.--Technopat 14:05, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
Yes, rote learning and exam passing are certainly the main objectives of the Spanish education system. It's one of the reasons that they have such problems with language teaching. Learning lists and rules isn't the way.--Bob M 15:30, 18 May 2010 (UTC)

Short URL[edit]

What if TEFLpedia dropped "index.php?title=" from article page URLs? Any reason to not do this? --Roger 00:25, 14 December 2010 (UTC)

Yes it would be prettier wouldn't it? The problem is that I wasn't sure how to do it when I first set it up and asked somebody to do it for me. Unfortunately they didn't do a very good job of it. Now we've got links in from various places and I don't really want to go messing with them now in case the links stop working.
But if you've got any ideas I'd be happy to hear them.--Bob M 19:36, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
If you have the kind of access to your server files that I do to mine, you can set up short URLs in such a way that the old links still work. The Short URL instructions at MediaWiki have ballooned and are therefore difficult to sort through. However, I can show you how I do short URLs at Wikigogy and if this works on your server, splendid! This involves editing two files in your wiki directory on your server: .htaccess (you will add it if it is not there yet) and LocalSettings.php. More about this later. Gotta run pick up my son from school. --Roger 21:26, 15 December 2010 (UTC)
Sounds cool - and like the way to go. Thanks.--Bob M 21:33, 15 December 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for all your help on this Roger. The URL's look a lot better.--Bob M 16:03, 17 December 2010 (UTC)
Main Page Looks good! http://www.teflpedia.com/index.php?title=Main_Page still works, too. So no broken links. Happy snowman. --Roger 16:56, 17 December 2010 (UTC)
Yes, I'm very happy with it. It's fixed a problem which I've had for a long time.--Bob M 17:55, 17 December 2010 (UTC)

Wikigogy migration[edit]

Discussion of the proposed transfer of content from Wikigogy ash been moved to Teflpedia:Wikigogy migration.--Bob M 08:43, 16 January 2011 (UTC)

Freestuff namespace[edit]

Bob, could I persuade you to change the "Freestuff" namespace? Maybe to "Lesson:"? I feel "Freestuff:" is a cheap throw away namespace. Is there anything on TEFLPedia that is not free stuff? So what does it mean to segregate pages under that title? I would not be comfortable, nor honored, working in the "freestuff" namespace. Alternatives: --Roger 19:54, 16 January 2011 (UTC)

  • "Lesson:"--for lesson ideas, learning activity ideas, things written along the lines of a lesson plans or lesson plan ideas. What else might people want to put on TEFLPedia that would not fit either in a "Lesson:" namespace or in the main encyclopedic space (classroom management ideas, for example, could be handled in encyclopedic namespace under suitable idea names, ditto learning activity ideas.)?
I favor "Lesson:" --Roger 19:54, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
  • "More:"--if you really want a catch-all namespace for everything that is "more" than strictly encyclopedic.
But I like "More:" too, because it means what is says and is open to more. --Roger 19:54, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
or both

Namespaces are defined in LocalSettings.php. Bob, I think you could simply change "FREESTUFF" to "LESSON" there, and if you want to, add "MORE" there, following the syntax you find in there. See http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Manual:Using_custom_namespaces. --Roger 20:20, 16 January 2011 (UTC)

Yes, I know how to create namespaces.  :-) OK. I'm convinced. I'll create a new namespace "lesson", transfer the existing stuff in "freespace" to that namespace and update the help instructions. OK - that's new namespace "lesson" in existence. I'll tidy the other stuff up.--Bob M 21:09, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
Got to go. Back tomorrow.--Bob M 21:10, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
Had a few more minutes. So:
  • Created namespace "Lesson"
  • Moved articles into that space and deleted them from freestuff.
  • Put cat in WK banner.
  • Updated Wiki to refer to "lesson" instead of "freespace".--Bob M 21:53, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
(Applause) --Roger 00:13, 17 January 2011 (UTC)


Welcome to the Teachers' Room.This unsigned comment was made by PhilipR


Bob, if you add <\/u>'''<\/big>]<\/center>== to $wgSpamRegex in LocalSettings.php (see http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Manual:$wgSpamRegex) it will stop the current script prepared lunch meat we are getting that contains that markup. Email me if you need help with the syntax. --Roger 16:52, 13 March 2011 (UTC)

Really? I'll have a look at that in a moment. Got something on right now. Thanks muchly.--Bob M 17:10, 13 March 2011 (UTC)
I have send you a very important email.--Bob M 17:47, 13 March 2011 (UTC)


A subpage (see http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Help:Subpages) is page that is subordinate to another page.


Lesson:Writer's Workshop Story Starter/Prompts is a subpage of Lesson:Writer's Workshop Story Starter.

Bob, it might be a good idea to turn on subpages within the Lesson namespace so that a link will automatically appear at top of each Lesson subpage (just under page name) that will take you to that subpages' parent page (the page the subpage is subordinate to). This can be turned on in LocalSettings.php (see http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Manual:$wgNamespacesWithSubpages). Note that subpages appear to be turned on already for User namespace (User:Roger/Subpage Test has auto link at top to parent page) but not for Main namespace (Sandbox/Subpage Test has no such auto link). Why not turn on subpages for all namespaces? --Roger 23:06, 1 October 2011 (UTC)

Thanks Roger. I'll have a look at it this evening.--Bob M 06:13, 2 October 2011 (UTC)
Maybe before Halloween? @:-) Roger 04:34, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
Ah yes. Sorry about that.--Bob M 06:24, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
Would you like to give it another go Roger?--Bob M 16:55, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
Works! Bravo! --Roger 10:56, 10 February 2012 (CST)