Geoff Tennant - Promoting access to mathematics for all
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Tanzania 2015

9/8/15: so, that was the first 50 years

In her novel, "The philosopher's pupil", Iris Murdoch attributes the following thoughts to Rozanov, the philosopher of the title:

Looking at his early childish writings,
he could see how much he had learnt in fifty years.
Oh for another fifty!
If human life were longer, art and science might be much the same,
but philosophy would be an entirely different matter.

Writing on the eve of my 50th birthday, this has huge resonance for me.  In a number of important aspects, it feels as life is only just getting going.

6/8/15: giant tortoises in Prison Island and Zanzibar National Park

Delighted to have Wendy and Daniel, my sister-in-law and nephew, with me for a few days following a mission trip to Musoma in Northern Tanzania.  Alas, they've now gone, flat seems very empty without them, but a great few days while they were here!

It continues to be absolutely fantastic that Zanzibar is only 1.5 hours away by ferry, make every effort not to get used to it!  One of the places I think is essential to visit is Prison Island for the giant tortoises, I've been there before but Wendy and Daniel haven't, here they are:

26/7/15: nearly August - so book of Job coming up soon

Alongside studying the Bible with the help of the NIV Application Commentary series - a very fine help to understanding the Bible, divided up for sustainable everyday use - I'm also reading the Bible through in the year which I've done before.  Really good discipline, I think, not least in understanding one part of the Bible in terms of another - so the book fo Romans, which is where I am at the moment, draws heavily from Old Testament themes and quotations.

So, just about to get to the book of Job.

19/7/15: what information do hotels actually need?

I mentioned in passing to the mathematics group a few weeks ago that I really don't know, when registering in hotels in Southern Tanzania, how I am supposed to complete the section 'Tribe', and normally put, 'Mzungu' (white person) hoping that this will be understood for what it is, ie. a genuine attempt to answer a question which in my context doesn't really make any sense.  Much to my delight students responded, "You should put Kikuyu - Meru - Maasai' - ie.

12/7/15: the sins of the fathers

I've been pondering the material in this post for some weeks now, and think I'm ready to present my thoughts to you.  However, I regard this as 'work in progress', particularly the end I think could be strengthened.  Would be very pleased to hear any thoughts on the subject matter, either through comment box or private email.  Thank you for reading!

My starting point for these reflections is1 Kings 11: 29-39.  The situation is that King Solomon is coming to the end of his reign, having become fabulously rich with 600 wives and 300 concubines.

5/7/15: it's amazing whom I've been meeting

Working in Tanzania offers opportunities to operate at a rather more senior level and meet people I would not be meeting compared with being in the UK.  So, twice a year, I sit on a committee, most of the other members being deputy vice chancellors of universities across Tanzania.  As recordedhereI have met the Vice President of Tanzania, been to meetings with the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, also I've been to a reception with the former president, President Benjamin Mkapa, and have had dinner with the Ugandan High Commissioner in a group of about 6 people.

21/6/15: sometimes it's great having tinnitus

Since 2006 I've had tinnitus of the high-pitched continuous type.  The theory is that in the normal course of things there's always some noise somewhere - wind, rain, distant traffic, somebody else breathing, etc. etc.  So the brain is used to having something to hear.  So if there's nothing to hear - eg. because you're wearing ear plugs - the brain works harder and harder to pick something up until it starts listening to its own mechanism, and you end up on a feedback loop, very similar to the feedback you get when you put a microphone against a speaker.

14/6/15: one year to go - and 'hard' maths problems

It is, of course, the nature of ex-pat contracts that they are time limited.  Apart from anything else, it is recognised that having a presence in two countries is an expensive business, so this means that I get paid considerably more than a local person would for doing the same job.  This is one of several reasons why the expectation needs to be to work hard and look to make oneself redundant, in due course handing over work to other people.

Meanwhile, I came out here nearly three years ago on a three year contract with the understanding that, if mutually agreeable, this could be extended for a further two years.

7/6/15: we're going to Tanzania! Guest blog

I’m Wendy, Geoff’s sister-in-law, my husband Mark is Geoff’s brother.  I’m delighted to tell you that, along with with two of our sons, Michael (19) and Daniel (10), I’m shortly going to Tanzania!
We’ll be spending most of our time in Musoma, Northern Tanzania, on the shores of Lake Victoria.  We’re volunteering with a Christian project'Go make a difference'run byTearfund, looking to make a practical difference to people living in poverty and telling people about Jesus.  We’re excited to be working in the spirit of Tearfund’s slogan, 'Following Jesus where the need is greatest' and expect our time to be both rewarding and challenging, learning about life in rural Tanzania whilst also learning something about ourselves.

24/5/15: when to complain?

Inthis blog post I shared some thoughts on air travel based on bad experiences.  Well, on the main occasion I had in mind when writing that, in a country I'm not prepared to name (the fact I'm currently thinking about the main ingredient of a traditional Christmas dinner is, of course, complete coincidence) I joined up with two other people who missed the connection because the plane from Heathrow was running late.  The desks where we were so appallingly treated had little vote buttons, "How has your experience of customer been today?
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