21/10/2014 - First year students and Gapminder

maybe I take things a bit emotionally but how to do otherwise

so here is the story from the first year students today

those who are using Gapminder are really into it

I decided that at each session we should have one or two students coming to show something they have find out, so far we have always found the way to combine data with concepts and theory, being it discussions on GDP and its limits, or on the development index, poverty, inequality, and the students start getting the idea - theory is much nicer when supported by data =Gapminder

so I asked the same question today 'has anyone found something interesting to show us', and then silence and so 'okay you have half minute to decide who has found something interesting, before I do' which they find scary and funny at the same time and usually it is a mix of volunteers and forced volunteers who come out

so today one said I have found something, and he presented and gave us a talk for 20 minutes - of course with a bit of inputs from my side, to give more structure and clarify or deepen the discussion around specific points, but I felt like by the end of this semester he could be confidently showing to other students (other classes?) how to use Gapminder in order to discuss development! and I know a bunch of other very keen students could do the same.

what he showed us came from curiosity after our last lecture (Rosling TED) and a lecture on political science with Tom (the one colleague who is using projector), and he had merged the two to compare China and US, and show China growth over time, and discuss the 'catching up' (which we are yet to discuss using Rosling's 'Asia rise when and how'), and what possible 'threat' could a big country like China pose to the world the moment that it becomes the big super power but doesn't care for human rights and decide to impose its authority using military force (and of course discussions around Hong Kong fitted well here)...

he had prepared a very small piece of paper dense of notes and kept our interest high discussing history and zooming into the data (Mao vs Deng's policies, with a bit of my help - but he had seriously looked into history to be able to explain trends!), GDP but also living standards, pollution, etc. so asking questions to the audience 'what is China doing for the environment' and 'is it therefore development' etc.

what I like of this class, there is real appreciation of good work, and the clap he deserved was spontaneous. how good.

there is this other one, he came as volunteer the first time, he was the first one to come and ask for help with Gapminder/Dropbox installation, he has now found a new laptop after trying with his brother's one, he has gone to see Danny & Zach for extra help. he cannot speak good English and i feel like hugging him each time he tries.

and each time more of the students who have never made interventions raise their hand.

they are worth each single minute I go up there and do my best to keep them motivated and involved, and though I feel exhausted I just wish I had double energy and more to give

not easy to not get involved emotionally

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