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Rowena Hopkins

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About Rowena Hopkins

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  • Birthday 01/10/1991

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    Canada
  1. Rowena Hopkins

    Gay Marriage ban

    I used to get worked up about this topic but now I just find it tedious stating the obvious. Gay marriage does not hurt anyone. Banning gay marriage does. If we are civilised nice kind people who would like to be treated fairly I suggest that we treat others as fairly. Is there really any arguement beyond that? Rowena
  2. Rowena Hopkins

    Terri Schiavo and Christian Fundamentalism

    Here follows the final paragraph of a weekly column written by a Canadian Minister in our regional paper. In it he argues for the sanctity of life, puts forward the arguement that it is a little bit rich for one of "the most violent societes on this planet" who consider it a right to carry arms to be getting all noble about this particular case and concludes with the following "What is really at issue in the Terri Schiavo case is not the sacredness of life at all but a fear of death. Her parent's desperate pleas to keep their daughter alive seem to be motivated out of grief; they are unable to let their daughter die. Her mother sums it up when she said "She is my life". Although Chrstianity values life, biological life is not the totality of human existance. For Christians, death is not the end of a life but a new stage and new beginning. The fear of losing a loved one is natural and understandable but ultimately selfish. Terri Shaivo has nothing to live for but everything to die for. If we believe that upon death she wll pass into God's presence then why would anyone argue that a vegetative state is better than communion with God?" It strikes me that this whole situation is not about Terri and what she would want, but what her relatives, the church and politicians can get out of it. Terri's parents don't want to let their little girl go. Terri's husband wants to move on with his life. The Church and politicians want to score points. None of us can possibly know what Terri would want, we can only guess based on what we would want and what we consider to be the right thing to do. I personally would want to be put out of my misery and as a result of this whole debate am going to have that put in writing. It would be bad enough having my parents pitted against my husband, but to have complete strangers acting like they have a stake in me - please! Rowena
  3. Rowena Hopkins

    Science or Religion

    so, who wrote the bible? If humans (the great destroyers) do have souls then so do dogs (loyal and obedient), worms (natures great recyclers) and birds (singing their hearts out at their pleasure at livng every sngle day, not just once a week). What on earth do human being have going for them that makes them the best candidates for possessing souls...other than the fact that we define our own beliefs and therefore get to choose who gets them. Religion is all very well and good if it makes people happy and leads to good things being done. In actual fact so many wars have ridden on the back of religion, so many women have been mistreated (in most religions women are possessions of men - only the woman has to say 'to honour and obey'- vessels for babies and not in control of their own reproductive capacity - lack of contraceptive options and lack of access to abortion) and hatred has been preached (anti-semitism by muslems, homophobia by nearly all religions the lst is endless). If this is the result of belief then I feel the world is better off without it. As for Santa, if you truely believe in him then you will ignore the ignorance of hs detractors, Rowena
  4. Rowena Hopkins

    Science or Religion

    The trouble with trying to prove yourself right as an atheist is that you can't and neither can you prove religion wrong. Relgious people demand proof that atheists are correct whilst atheists are not allowed to demand proof from religious people because it is all about 'faith' and 'belief'. It does seem that we are setting off on an unfair footing. Ultimately if someone told me that they believed in father christmas and that they knew he existed because they felt it in their heart and he made them feel whole then it would be impossible for me to prove them wrong without insulting them personally i.e. by trying to prove that they were in fact bonkers. My husband, raised a Catholic, feels that I have something missing from my life. I, raised nothing in particular, do not feel that there is anything to miss. I am perfectly capable of making the kind of moral dececions expected of good christians (etc) without having to back up my views with quotes from the bible. I don't kill, steal, rape or degrade people because it wouldn't be a nice thing to do and I wouldn't want someone to do that to me. My parents raised me to have this outlook on life without the need to convince me that I would go either to heaven or hell if I either obeyed or disobeyed them. I choose to do the right thing because it is the rght thing to do and not because I expect reward or to avoid punnishment. In addition I don't have to be subjugated as a women as most religious texts demand. Rowena p.s. now apparently I, am a simple human being, am not able to decide what is right or wrong, but I'd say that I can take a pretty good guess! p.p.s. the bible was written by men and so the ten commandments etc were written by men.
  5. Rowena Hopkins

    Science or Religion

    Yep, that was the other thing that really got my goat in Rwanda. The pity of my students that I had not 'found' God. It never ceased to amaze them that I could be a happy atheist who loved nature and people and life but didn't need religion as an emotional prop to stop myself going off the rails. I found it somewhat ironic that a bunch of children considered themselves to be more wise and knowing than their teacher who had experienced far more of life than they had and also read more than one book! Some even offered to pray for me - I politely asked them not to and asked them to do some work instead. This would clearly benefit them and would have made me leap around joyously and perhaps believe that I had found heaven on earth. I simply couldn't imagine being so condescending as to go up to someone I respected (and apparently they did respect me ;-)) and tell them that they are somewhat lacking, that I pity them in their sad state and that they were going to go to hell unless I (their subordinate) saved them. How smug and how proud. And if heaven is full of religious serial killers I surely don't want to go there;-) Rowena
  6. Rowena Hopkins

    Science or Religion

    My first brush with religion and science came in my second week of unversity when i was writing an essay about geological time - relative dating vs absolute. After a few hours of trawling through papers I rushed down to a colleagues room and announced "Plant Earth is 4.55 billion years old, and I am 18. What it the point of my life!?". And no, I hadn't been drinking;-) Science is so big it is awe inspiring and I do hope to maintain that sense of awe, but that doesn't mean that I should just hide under the bed, or take the easy option and say 'its all down to God', and frankly that would be much easier than worrying about why there life on planet earth, the odds of that happening and my importance in the grand scheme of things. Geology is one of those subjects where religion and faith do battle on a daily basis. I find it particularly entertaining reading religious pseudo science websites which 'prove' that the world is only a couple of thousand years old. I do question why we should believe these writers who clearly have little or no scientific schooling, whose theories make little or no sence to the rational thinker (I presented one or two of the ideas to my 6th formers last year as 'fact' and even they could see the huge holes in the arguements) and why we should ignore the decades of research undertaken by people who are experts in ther scientific fields and who, interestingly, have to be open to the idea that they may not be right and may in fact prove themselves wrong. Which brings me onto facts. In science there are no facts. There are things that we consider to be accurate at the time. We cannot prove anything, only disprove. Therfore we have the choice of either saying 'we don't know anything so lets not bother trying to figure anythng else out' or saying 'well, we think this is the case and so IF it is true then that means that this could also be true'. In a way it is frustrating working in a field that is so open to change. Plate Tectonics came along in the 1970's and completely screwed up most of the theories of the people who lectured me at university, but they took this new theory and moved on (though of course there was some dissent at the time). and re-evaluated ther old ideas to see if they could be accommodated in the Plate Tectonics model. This did not question their faith, only their ability to be flexible and work with different models. This contrasts with my grandmother (a woman of religion, but little spirituality and a retired primary school teacher). My mother told her a few years ago that human life originated in Africa (probably because my grandmother was being racist at the time) and she simply could not accept this because "this was not what she was taught at school"! This sums up my problem with many religious people. They are just opting for religion because they are lazy. If you are religious you only have to read one book in your life time, be it the Qur'an or the Bible or whatever else, and then you can be superior in all discussions by quoting bits from your chosen book. You don;t need to understand, or think, just quote (whilst looking irritatingly serene;-)). The rest of us have to keep reading every new paper that gets published to keep up to date with things and even then we know that nothing is certain and that the prevailing theory may change and change again and so when we talk about the origins of life we can't just sit there serenely quoting genisis (knowing that the good book isn't going to be re-written any time soon) we actually try to back up our thoughts with evidence, which may be replaced with new evidence any day. Its a far more precarious way of viewing the world, but I'd say it was a more mature one, based on open mindedness and acceptance of new ideas and not an obsession with trying to prove right the contents of a book which was written by men, for men, to try to explain the world as they saw it, and to maintain the status quo (don't get me onto religion and feminism!). The bible/Qur'an/etc isn't a fax from God and should be treated as an early historical document and not absolute truth. Whilst living in Africa I taught very religious people. When your life is so very precarious that a car crash will most likely result in death, as will Malaria, dehydration or having sex with one person unprotected, its not surprising that people turn to religon for support. Frankly life in this world is so unrewarding all they can hope for is that life in the next will be better. Interesting, then that in this very religious society all that praying (and they do pray day and night) brings so little devine intervention. One of the side effects of religion of course was apathy. Why study? You will pass your exams if God wills it. Why use condoms? You will stay HIV free if God wills it. I would work my fingers to the bone trying to help them to get through their exams and into university where maybe they could get a better life, because I cared and wanted to help, and they would wander over to my house and try to convert me to Seventh Day Adventism, Islam or pentacostalism to save me from going to hell. They were very concerned for my soul and yet being such good religious people this did not stop them lieing, cheating and stealing. The hypocrisy of Africans and religion was the final nail in the coffin for me. I intend to keep plugging on the way I am, doing my best to help people, being caring and kind, and yet not believing in God, because if there is a God surely they are wise enough to understand that I am more deserving of a place in heaven than most of religious people I have met, and if they are a cruel God then I will take my chances in Hell, where I'm sure I will be in good company, Rowena
  7. Rowena Hopkins

    Terri Schiavo and Christian Fundamentalism

    I have been following this debate from Canada and what I don't understand is, if Terri didn't have any tests performed on her why is it that we were shown (on the CBC news) her brain scan, next to the scan of a healthy person? Frankly there didn't seem to be much of her brain left! I can't help thinking that her death should be a blessing to her parents in the long term. At least now they have the opportunity to grieve for their daughter instead of clinging onto a hope that seems fairly baseless. Rowena
  8. Hi There, Happy Easter or Joyeuses Pâques as we say here:-) I moved to Canada 18 months ago and finally got accepted as a resident last week. At this point I received my teacher certification from the Teacher Certification Board in Fredericton (the provincial capitol of New Brunswick). This would all be wonderful were it not for the fact that they clearly don't understand the British education system and so have applied Canadian rules to my qualifications. In short I have been accepted as a teacher of ARTS (including Chemistry, Science and Geology) - I have a BA from Oxford and whilst I have tried to explain to Fredericton that all Oxford degrees are BA's they simply can't get their heads around this! Then there are 6 levels of teacher certification and I have been allocated a level 4 because I have a three year degree plus a PGCE. All Canadian teachers who followed the same route as me have 4 years degrees (three year degrees don't exist here) plus teaching certification so are allocated a level 5 certificate. This means that they have greater access to promotion and are paid more than me despite being no more qualified. I have contacted Oxford to ask if they can provide me with some proof that a three year Oxford Bachelors is equal to a 4 years bachelors from another university, but of course Frederiction will assume that Oxford are just blowing their own trumpet! So I was wondering if any of you could help me by providing me with a name or website for an independent certification board for the UK who if necessary I could pay to write to Fredericton to politely explain that someone in the UK with an Oxford degree would not be paid less than someone from say, Cardiff with the same degree irrespective of how long it takes to attain the degree because a Bachelors is a Bachelors is a Bachelors! The problem is that in North American all courses are allocated Credits and of course we don't have credits in the UK so I can't prove that I have the same number as anyone else! Any hints or suggestions would be really gratefully appreciated:-) Rowena p.s. certification is a huge issue in New Brunswick right now as they are desperate for immigrants to move here and bring their skills, but then wont take the time to assess these skills properly and pay them a decent wage.
  9. Rowena Hopkins

    Tsunami Disaster

    I believe that reasons for the huge public response to the tsunami disaster are two fold. Firstly there is the dramatic nature of the disaster meaning that it received a huge amount of press (compare that to the ongoing situation in Dafur). Secondly the fact that this was a 'one off' event rather than an ongoing political problem. This gives people the impression that by donating money it will actually lead to positive results rather than being lost in a sea of beurocracy/ corruption. Of course the media has provided amazingly little coverage of the ongoing political issues in Banda Aceh and Sri Lanka. The only place that I have read about Dalits being denied aid by Indian officials is on the BBC online. There will of course be corruption, theft of aid etc and the political problems are unlikely to simply disappear overnight, but in the mean time we keep giving because Asia seems infinately more 'fixable' than Africa. Perhaps it is, but this should not mean that Africans should be denied the aid if needed. As for development cash, having worked for a development agency I can assure you that the vast bulk of it is wasted by the majority of big players. Development keeps white people in jobs and maintains dependancy of the underdeveloped world on the developed. Debt relief, the removal or rethinking of World bank restrictions and trade would be far more effective tools in lifting the developing world out of its current situation. Rowena
  10. Rowena Hopkins

    Teaching the British Empire

    Living in Africa for 4 years meant that I often found myself pondering the issue of the British Empire. The general consensus amongst the Africans that I discussed it with was that the British were 'Not as bad' as the Belgians or the Portuguese and that they brought schools and roads and 'organisation'. this made me feel slightly less uncomfortable. Ugandans are also quick to point out the most of their African leader post collonial era were actually worse than the British and some even voiced the opinion that they would quite like us to come back! That said, none of these people were old enough to actually remember what life was like during colonial times - all they see are the railways, the roads and the universities. positive relics of a not very positive time. They have however lived through Obote and Amin and their own atrocities and know that African leaders are not faultless. of course they generously fail to mention who kept their corrupt leaders in power. It would make a huge amount of sense for the collonial era and the carving up of Africa to be included in GCSE history. For one thing it might help the students to understand what the Italians were doing in Abyssinia, and why Germany was in any position to 'give' Rwanda to Belgium. I was discussing history teaching with some Burundian friends last week and they remarked on the fact that whislt most Africans know their own histories and that of the USA and UK (or other European nation depending on their history), the North Americans and the British have no idea why Ugandans and Kenyans speak such good English, or why immigrants from West African generally move to France! Rowena
  11. Rowena Hopkins

    Changes in Society: The Nanny State

    Sounds a little like those weapons of mass destruction, but it didn't stop Britain invading Iraq! Rowena
  12. Rowena Hopkins

    Changes in Society: The Nanny State

    Yes menus should reflect more of what is available to adults which means that there should be something other than pizza, chips, breaded animal offal and other such disgusting things on offer. And if you are a vegetarian, well there is always chips, or some soggy lettuce.... I eat out in town and always manage to find somewhere that will serve me with soup and a sandwich, or a curry, or falafel... when was the last time you saw any of that on a school menu?! The "Nanny state" already exists in the school canteen and she is an evil nanny who 'protects' schools from providing children with less profitable foods. Rowena p.s. There is a school in Canada (just one!) which employs a professional chef to serve up all sorts of delights to the kids and after the initial rebellions (but I WANT fries) they decided that they actually preferred his food. Eating patterns are established in childhood. these children will in all likelyhood go on to become foodies, whilst their counterparts at other schools will just be fat and dead at 40.
  13. Rowena Hopkins

    Religious Belief and Natural Disasters

    As a scientist Earthquakes to me are simply a natural phenomenan. End of story. However, you may be interested in the idea (almost obsession) of Shamita Das, a senior lecturer in Seismology at the Univeristy of Oxford, who believes that most earthquakes occur on religious holidays, resulting in a higher survival rate (fewer people crowded into office blocks and schools). As an undergradute I never really understood why she thought this happened or whether she simply thought it was a convenient co-incidence. But she was certainly convinced that there was a pattern there. Rowena
  14. Rowena Hopkins

    Jokes

    An old one, but still very funny...... Al Gore was in London and met the Queen. Gore asked the Queen about her leadership philosophy. The Queen said she found that the best way to govern was to surround herself with intelligent people. “But how do you know they are intelligent? Gore asked. “I ask them testing questions. For example, when Tony Blair became leader of the Labour Party, I telephoned him and asked the following question: “Your mother has a child, your father has a child and this child is not your brother or your sister. Who is it?” “Why it is me,” said Tony Blair, without a pause. “Correct!” said the Queen. Gore returned to America and called George W. Bush: “Mr President, may I ask you a question?” he said. “By all means”, said the President. “Your mother has a child, your father has a child and this child is not your brother or your sister. Who is it?” George Bush was stumped and remained silent for a while before saying, “May I get back to you on that, Al?” He asked all his closest aides before finally ringing Colin Powell, to whom he posed the telling question. Powell, like Blair, replied, without pause: “It’s me.” George Bush rang Gore and said: “I know the answer to your question. It’s Colin Powell.” “Wrong,” said Gore. “It’s Tony Blair.”
  15. Rowena Hopkins

    Chemistry is Dead

    Hi Tim, of course there is more to any science subject than just regurgitating facts, but in terms of actual science teaching and learning, often that is pretty much all there is to it. Science teaching in schools does not reflect science. That is the problem. Rowena
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