Thursday, May 31, 2007

NCEA - The improvements

For those readers outside of New Zealand, NCEA (National Certificate of Educational Achievement) is this country’s main national qualification for secondary school students and part of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).

Its premise was to recognise the skills needed for an information age and to remove the sense of failure associated with the traditional teaching methods that did not meet the learning and certification needs of some students.

It’s been said that it all depends on your child's learning Style. Anecdotally, examinations such as Cambridge are better suited to students who excel in the sciences - typically sequential learners, while NCEA is better suited to those who think creatively and outside the square - typically simultaneous learners. (Does your child prefer to process information sequentially or a simultaneously? Please click on to find out.)

Be that as it may, ever since its introduction in 2002, the public opinion’s been divided into “NCEA is a world class qualification” and “It’s a total failure”.

Those in favour point out that university entrants are now far better prepared for their first year of tertiary education. Those opposed point out the inconsistencies in the external marking system, which can award the same piece of work with grades as diverse as “not achieved”, “achieved” and “merit”.

Following severe criticism, the Ministry of Education has come up with the following improvements:
- Introducing 'excellence' and 'merit' to NCEA certificates from 2007
- Introducing 'excellence' and 'merit' at subject level from 2008
- Including 'not achieved' in NCEA results notices for both internally assessed and externally assessed standards from 2008
- Up to 10 per cent of internally assessed standards will be moderated by full-time moderators appointed to NZQA from 2008.

Do you think the improvements are adequate? A step in the right direction? Off the mark? Have your say here.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The brave new world - is our technology killing us?

A recent British study conducted by BBC researchers revealed emission levels in a classroom that were three times higher than those from a mobile phone mast. The emissions came from the schools’ wireless network.

This made me wonder about all the wonder-ful modern technology we have at our disposal.
· Microwave ovens: have been blamed for lower fertility, particularly in men, as well as for changing the amino-acids in protein-based food such as meat and dairy products.
· Cell phones: there is a slight statistical correlation between cell phones and brain tumours.
· Electricity: by now we probably all know that it’s bad to live under power lines and that you shouldn’t sleep near electrical appliances (a distance of 3 metres has been suggested).
· Computers tire our eyes and bend our spines.
· Pharmaceuticals: we create super-bugs by over-using antibiotics. We may be doing more harm than good by swallowing an anti-congestant and a cough-suppressant every time we are hit by a cold or flu.
· Stress caused by traffic jams, network cable failure, and constant cell phone intrusions. (To learn how to combat stress, please visit us on and complete your WSA profile.)
· And now the wireless Internet issue....

Although there has been no link between long-term radiation and cancer, Britain's Health Protection Agency has called for an urgent review of health risks from wireless Internet networks.

Do you think their worries are justified? Do you think it’s safe to cook meat in the microwave oven? Let us know.

Remember: the fall of the Roman Empire was allegedly caused by lead pipes which were thought to be a great new invention bringing fresh drinking water to the citizens of Rome. (Or was the lead a by-product of the Roman wine-making? So may theories. So little certainty.)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Time Management Tips That Are Right For Your Brain

There are time management courses, time management software packages, time management self-help books and time management articles in professional literature. But let’s face it, time management tips work only if they are right for you and for the unique way in which your brain works.

“Prioritize ruthlessly”, “Get in the habit of setting time limits for tasks” and “Be sure your systems are organized” are all very good time management tips for people whose brains are analytic and detail-oriented, but totally unsuitable for global thinkers.

“Establish routines and stick to them” will work for those who love routine, but will be totally counter-productive for change-oriented variety-driven people.

People who like working alone will not do well by following the tip to “Learn to delegate and outsource” - it would simply be too stressful and too counter-productive to their Working Style.

Do you know what your Working Style is and what time management practices are best for you? If not, please visit us on and complete your WSA profile.

Special offer: Type this code YR7TWPC into the Promotion Code field when you’re making your purchase and receive a 10% discount. Valid on the WSA Employee product only. This offer expires 31 May 2007.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Back problems? Sitting up straight may be bad for you....

Barbara Prashnig, the creator of Working Style Analysis (WSA) now has scientific proof that sitting up straight may be bad for you. In her book, “The Power of Diversity”, Barbara shot down many myths, among them the belief that you concentrate better when sitting upright. “Many human beings perform better in an informal environment,” says Barbara. “When someone sits on a hard chair, approximately 75% of the total body weight is supported by only 10 square centimetres of bone. The resulting stress often causes fatigue, discomfort and lack of concentration.”

If you experience back pain, please have a look at for more scientific explanations.

If you’re not sure whether a formal or an informal environment is good for your personal Working Style, please visit us on for your chance to win a WSA assessment.

Do you know what else might be causing stress or a performance drop at work? Do your WSA today and find out whether it’s the lighting at the office that’s making you irritable and tired.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Healthy snacks for those who need intake while working or learning

If your Learning Style calls for intake when you’re concentrating on something new or difficult, make sure that what you snack on doesn’t make you feel too heavy, too tired or - in the longer term - unhealthy.

So here are a few ideas for light snacks that are good for you:
· water (about 2 litres or 8 standard-size cups is about right as a daily dose)
· nuts (provided you’re not allergic)
· fresh or dried fruit (if dried, those without preservatives are best)
· seeds (e.g., sunflower, pumpkin)
· dark chocolate (at least 70& cocoa)
· popcorn (no-fat and preservative free)
· anything with lots of omega 3 (salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring).

Do you have any other suggestions? We’d love to hear from you! Simply drop us an email or leave a comment on this blog.

Please listen to your Learning Style needs - they are there to help you work and learn in an optimal way.
(To find out what your Learning Style is, please visit