Fact or Fiction

October 23, 2012
Creatures from the black lagoon

According to a survey of 2,000 teachers in Canada and the United States, one out of four science teachers released lab animals into the environment after they had finished using them for instruction. Of particular concern to Oregon State University researchers, who conducted the survey, was the release of invasive species, such as crayfish and amphibians that carry diseases or parasites. Sam Chan, principal investigator for the study, said the problem could be solved by educating suppliers and teachers about the potential problems associated with using non-native species. Chan said many of the teachers surveyed were “mortified” to learn they could be releasing potentially invasive species into local surroundings.

Children’s magazine bombs

The latest edition of ­Tunisia’s Qaws Quzah (Arabic for ­“rainbow”), a popular magazine for boys and girls aged 5–15, blew it as far as that country’s prosecutors are concerned. Qaws Quzah is under investigation for publishing an article on the history of the petrol bomb and including details and instructions on how to make one. “It is an improvised weapon that is often used in riots and acts of sabotage because it is easy to make and use,” stated the article. Tunisia’s Ministry for Women and Family Affairs condemned the article, saying it “encourages violent and terrorist thought” and endangers children by “encouraging the use of Molotov cocktails in acts of vandalism or terrorism.” Tunisia, the catalyst of last year’s Arab Spring, continues to experience internal dissent.

“Quite odd people” make best teacher leaders

The best headteachers are “often quite odd people,” commented Sir Michael Wilshaw, chief inspector of England’s Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted). In a speech to Future Leaders conference delegates, Wilshaw suggested that “strange is sometimes good.” He encouraged participants to adopt a “maverick” character like Clint Eastwood and “challenge the established structures … Just because systems worked in the past does not mean that they will work in the future,” he said.

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