Jiva Technology

David v Goliath

Its hard to avoid the excitement surrounding Bristol City at the moment. I may hail from the blue side of town and have always been more interested in the fortunes of Bristol Rugby over Bristol City and Bristol Rovers, but tomorrow sees a big day for “The City”. The local team take on the giants of Manchester City, having already engaged in the David-like downing of Manchester United. Lets hope they do themselves proud. Manchester City have already endeared themselves by extending a VIP invite to Bristol City ball boy and viral social media sensation Jaden Neale. His celebrations on the touchline with Bristol City manager Lee Johnson will no doubt earn him an honourable mention on next years SPOTY. You can only imagine the tales he’ll be telling classmates when he gets back from meeting Pep Guardiola and the boys. He’ll be dining out on it for years. Its amazing how sport can energise a city and with table-topping Bristol Rugby unbeaten (and playing like a rugby version of Brazil to boot), it looks as though the Damp Dip (as we like to call it) might be about to punch its weight in sporting terms at long last. So here’s to Bristol City as they take on a team that cost more than every single Bristol City team in history. Enjoy yourselves and do us proud.

As the year draws to a close

The end of any year provides ample opportunity to pause and reflect on what has come before and this year is no different. With the significant political turbulence we’ve seen in 2016 and 2017, one thing seems very, very clear: things will not be going back to the way they were. One consequence of the political earthquakes of the past 18 months seems to be receiving little attention, but could ultimately have a significant impact. With governments tied up with Brexit in the UK and ‘meeting the expectations of the political base’ in the US, pretty much any other ‘business as usual’ government activity has gone out of the window. If I could sum it up in a few words, it would be: ‘you’re on our own’.

Whether you’re still in education, just starting out or in the full flow of a career, I would be paying very close attention to the skills that are in demand and the skills that will be in demand in the future, because you shouldn’t expect a general rise in the economy to help you out. Its time to have a strategy and time to back that up by investing in the most important productive asset you have: you. It seems pretty clear to me that government is behind the curve on providing an education that meets the needs of the jobs market; you can see it in the productivity figures, you can see it in immigration figures and you can see it in the big skews between in-demand jobs and those where there’s an over supply. You could argue that its not the job of the education system to direct resources to where they’re most needed, but with the incredible fragmentation of jobs and careers over the past twenty years, its tough for school or university leavers to get a good grip on which way they should go.

I think there’s a place for advice from educational institutions and government, but if you’re in education or at the start of your career, its worth recognising the reality that increasingly the onus falls on you to think about this. A lot of people limit their thinking to what their parents did or close relations. Some fall into jobs by accident. But we have to accept that the world just got a whole lot more volatile and unpredictable, exactly at the time when politicians are focused on other things. You can complain about it or you can sit down and have a good hard think. We all know what will be important in twenty or fifty years time. Will you have the skills to fit in? Its the end of the year … a good time to think about it.

Is the UK Chancellor a Jiva Blog Reader?

Who knew that the UK Chancellor was such an avid reader of the Jiva blog? A matter of days after publishing a blog post reiterating the importance of maths, Chancellor Philip Hammond stands up in the UK Parliament and tells the country, “maths matters”. Whats more, Mr Hammond has backed up his words with cash. Schools get an £600 for every  pupil who sits A Level maths and teachers in certain areas will get an extra £1,000 towards professional development. Its all good stuff and naturally, the folks at Jiva will claim the credit for the government’s actions. Now all we need to see is a bit more action further down the school years, at primary level. If we’re going to have more people capable of passing maths A level, we need more encouragement in the early years. Its unlikely that a 16 yo who’s had little encouragement to enjoy Maths is suddenly going to be enthused when the school suggests it for A level. But thats a conversation for another day, lets be thankful for small mercies.

“I don’t do maths”

As a self confessed lover of Maths, I’ve never understood the ambivalence or outright hostility aroused by my favourite subject. And whilst I can’t support this with any hard evidence, it feels as though the situation is getting worse. People are running up the white flag before they’ve even started. I see too many parents smiling and saying, “I don’t do maths” and hear of too many teachers who haven’t been trained in maths who’ve been asked to step in at the critical early stages because there isn’t a trained maths teacher at hand. Some of our kids are literally taught that this is a subject you should fear. So why is this a problem? Its a problem for a simple reason: our whole society is built on a foundation of maths. Our banking and finance are based on maths, our tools and technology are based on maths our medicine and health is based on maths, business is based on maths, the internet is based on maths, government communication is based on maths. The future is based on maths. As Apollo 13 famously said, “Houston, we have a problem”. And we have a problem because the maths our society is based on is not complicated maths. Sure, they’ll be some of the tougher stuff in there, but the basics can take you a long way. Which means we have to start encouraging people to get a basic grasp of the most basic of subjects.

The first hour of the first day of the new school year shouldn’t be for the kids, it should be for the parents. Every head teacher should stand up and remind the parents of their duty to support and encourage their kids to learn maths at their own pace. And they should be reminded at every parents evening. Maths isn’t for the techies and the scientists and the engineers. Its for everyone. All the time.

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