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OpenLearn Live: 14th October 2015

Updated Wednesday, 14th October 2015

The Italian writer capturing a double identity; and then more free learning across the day.

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OpenLearn Live brings together the worlds we live in, and the worlds of learning and research. You can also follow us on Twitter.

Yesterday, we celebrated Ada Lovelace Day; explored the meaning of Playboy; and asked what makes a great school building

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Today's posts

Symbolic destruction

The not-entirely-smooth demolition of the Red Road flats might have been the cosmos deploying a little symbolism, suggests Gerry Mooney:

The demolition of the Red Road Flats is also the demolition of a particular understanding and sense of post-War Glasgow – for good and for bad. It is also the demolition of the idea that refurbishment and investment could have saved such blocks for future use. If there was a failure in social housing it was never inevitable. Glasgow’s post-1945 housing crisis, from which the Red Road Flats emerged, was likewise not inevitable and the housing crisis today that engulfs many parts of the UK is also and absolutely, not inevitable. The history of the Red Road Flats is a very rich and evocative story of the politics of housing – and of the politics of class. The two are completely entangled in a myriad of ways.

Read Demolishing pasts

New free course: Understanding numbers

Science loves numbers. In a lot of way, science is numbers. And to be a great scientist, the first step can be making those numbers work for you. That's where our free course, understanding numbers, can come in:

Without numbers, we can’t quantify the world. For example, how would you determine if the narrator in a ‘numbers-free’ bottled water video was talking about enough bottled water to fill a single swimming pool, let alone 62,000 swimming pools? Quantifying things is a way to test your experience against others, and to comprehend the world. You don’t have to be a maths wizard who sees numbers when they close their eyes at night to be a good scientist. Working with numbers is about practice, and familiarity with a few basic concepts. It will get easier if you spend time with some simple number-based tasks.

You'll learn something about numbers in science - and you might surprise yourself at how much you already know.

Try our free course Understanding numbers

Biology week

It's biology week - and we've pulled together a collection for you to explore the subject in more depth.

See our biology week collection

Black Europeans: Igiaba Scego

This week, to mark Black History Month, we're putting the focus on just a few of the black trailblazers across Europe. Yesterday, we featured Alice Bah Kuhnke, Sweden's minister for culutre and democracy.

Today, we're meeting Igiana Scego, an Italian writer who takes the theme of identity at the heart of her work.

Igiaba Scego Creative commons image Icon lettera27 under CC-BY-SA licence under Creative-Commons license

Born in Rome to parents who had fled the Somalian coup of 1969, Igiaba grew up experiencing two cultures. One side brought her parents tales of a charmed life of status in Somalia; the other, the sometimes brutal experience of being a black Italian in 20th Century Rome. Her work isn't about otherness, though, but about claiming and expressing a sense of belonging.

An example of the power of her writing is the piece she wrote for Internaziole in the days following the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris:

Enough! We – and here I’m referring to myself, to Muslims and to everyone – must stop them using the name of Islam for their shady, disgusting affairs.

I would like every imam in every mosque in Europe to say this, loud and clear. I’m tired of seeing the name of a religion sullied in this way. It is not right. Similarly, as a citizen of the European Union, it is not right to see the vilification of its cornerstone values of peace and living together. I’m fed up of those who do not respect other people’s right to laugh. I’m sick and tired of seeing innocent blood being spilt every day, from Paris to Peshawar. And my stomach is already churning at the thought of the various xenophobes waiting in the wings. I already know someone will use this attack against immigrants and children of immigrants to grab a few more votes. There are always vultures who feast on tragedies.

See our Black History month collection





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