Using Go Button in China

The Go Button sound cue app for iOS is admitedly expensive but worth the price tag – it appears to lack nothing in terms of features and getting started is a simple matter of reading the short but clear manual and taking a close look at the sample file. As I live and work in mainland China, I was keen to know if I could label cues in Chinese (Mandarin) and English as well as import audio from Chinese Cloud services.

Sound cues can indeed be labelled in both English and Chinese. So if I have a show and a local technician will run it – that’s very convenient indeed.

I also found (as my current laptop has all its USB ports broken) that I can load files into Go Button that have been auto-uploaded to Baidu Cloud from my desktop. Inside the Baidu Pan app for iOS, I simply open the file I want to load, then share it to Go Button. In other words, the Baidu Cloud app supports ‘sharing’ as does Go Button. So its a party!

Why buying an Apple iPhone outside mainland China is a bad idea

If you live or work in mainland China and you buy an Apple iPhone outside the country, it quite simply can’t be serviced in China. Instead you will need to travel to any country outside China (even Hong Kong will do) in order to get it repaired.

Don’t be fooled by Apples’ own ignorance of their own warrantee policies. Friendly, apologetic, seeming to promise a solution, Apple support in the U.S. will waste your time giving you addresses of local authorised repair centres.

At the moment my iPhone 6 Plus has a delightful hardware malfunction where the touch screen stops responding randomly. 

When I visited my local authorised repair centre in Ningbo last week as advised by Apple, the repair centre snorted, told me “no” and that I needed to visit an official Apple Store in the state capital Hangzhou. This information was, sadly, a ruse. And it took 3 hours on the phone with senior skilful assistance from a senior support person in the US to reach two conflicting conclusions:

* There was no reason the phone couldn’t be repaired in China.

* Authorised repair centres and Apple stores are allowed to refuse to repair devices under warrantee without giving a reason.

In the end Apple in the U.S failed to deliver on a promise to call the repair centre where I had been sitting for 3 hours and talk to them in Mandarin about the repair. Instead they simply fell back on an obscure article on their intranet that suggested the centres/stores didn’t have to repair my device and suggested I get on a plane with my phone and leave mainland Chinese soil. International Warrantee? Yes and No. But practically speaking “No”.

Imposing Classroom Poverty               

‘We need not impose poverty, but it must not frighten us, as it is the most favorable condition for spiritual development we can find, if accepted with assent…An object scientifically constructed, offered to a child who has nothing, is taken with passionate interest and awakens mental concentration and meditation.’

– Dr Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, Chapter XVIII, The New Teacher.

As a parent, it would seem strange to be asked by a teacher to carefully search my daughter before class and take away from her any toys or objects that might distract including, say, jackets with zips or buttons or even gloves with tassels. Strange because it seems to me a natural parental instinct to dress and accessorise ones child. It’s normal and humanising and I personally believe my child is more than just an animal.

But as a teacher I feel the need to experiment somewhat radically with a practice of imposing poverty, as Montessori might put it, towards helping students concentrate and also to ask parents to participate in searching for and removing unnecessary and distracting possessions from their children before class.

Assent as Montessori suggests is vital. My in-class rule (and it does help if parents care enough to use their wiles and words to manufacture a degree of assent to this practice before class) is to take any thing obviously distracting a child away from them. I like it when this happens calmly and silently (sometimes there is resistance) and part of assent for me is, albeit after the fact, placing the confiscated object on a nearby table in general view of the child so they feel less robbed and more isolated from their possession [1].

Without distractions, I do indeed find that the children in my class can concentrate better on the different ‘objects’ I present them (whether that ‘object’ is game, an activity or content related artwork contributed by Wenli) and learn with concentration.

But removing distractions completely seems to be impossible. Below are photos of some of the possessions I have recently tabled. Naturally I’d be grateful if parents succeedeed in cleaning out their childs pockets of marbles and parts of plastic toys and suggested the child leave their wristwatch in the family car. But perhaps teachers will always be confiscating the jacket of a child who thinks it’s cool to suddenly wear it covering their face for quick laughs. And who knows from where the child got that chip of wood or that scrap of broken balloon!

[1] In my particular context, the design of the classroom does not assist me with imposing poverty. The children don’t have lockers, for example, just outside the classroom where they can store extra possessions as a matter course – though I wish we had lockers and am comfortable imposing ‘power’ here generally as defined by Michel Foucault (Part IV, Chapter 2, The History of Sexuality).

Xinjiang Dried Apricots

 Just 5 minutes soaking in warm water and I was able to cut up these dried Xinjiang dried apricots (a gift from Wenli) and add them to my bubbling tomato pasta sauce.  
I plan to store the rest of the dried apricots in a sealed glass jar to balance/distribute moisture between them as some are drier than others and in others the sugars in the flesh have crystallised.