Inspirational Yarn – Sue

Dr Sue Black is best known as a computer scientist, a University lecturer and researcher. The leading force behind the renovation of Bletchley Park, the World War II centre for decrypting enemy messages and the woman behind #techmums, teaching women computer skills in the belief that teaching mothers computer skills in turn teaches their children and eventually teaches the community.

That alone is a reason to name a yarn shade after Sue, but there’s so much more to her that I think has seen her being awarded an OBE and many awards for computer science.

Her passion for empowering women to understand technology and social media, especially in some of the more deprived parts of the country also helps encourage women who perhaps will find self confidence in learning skills they might have felt surpassed them.


‘Get out there and do the things you want to do.

You’ve only got one life so

Go for it!’

– Dr Sue Black OBE, FBCS, FRSA


But for me, what really inspires me is that Sue comes from humble beginnings.

Sue left school at 16, got married at 20 and by age 23 had three children.

By the age of 25 she was a single mother of three children living in a women’s refuge in Brixton.

She enrolled in night school and then university, eventually becoming a university lecturer. Education was her transport for getting the career she wanted and the ability to change her life for the better.

For myself, as someone who came late to appreciating education, I found university often very difficult, but to do a day at university while caring for three children is just an example of the strength Sue must have had. She overcame difficult challenges and proved that just because a person doesn’t succeed in high school, doesn’t mean education has closed its door.

Sue inspires those of us who have felt ‘less than’ because we didn’t have the right start. Her determination to get an education and then to work so hard to make sure that she passes on her education to others is what makes her an inspiration.

Click here to hear Sue Black Speaking at the Inspirefest conference.

In a similar way, dolls can be used to inspire children through play and can transcend all restraints of society. No one ever tells a doll she can’t be a scientist because she didn’t get the right qualification, a doll simply becomes a scientist. Through the dolls limitless career choices a child can dream dreams beyond the realms of her community or family status.




Divergent thinking and my path to a bad grade.

I should have done this blog weeks ago, before I broke my leg and since I get the cast taken off in just over a week, well it’s been a long time. But I kept putting it off, and since I like to do my work in order I kept putting other work on hold till it was done. The work piled up and I didn’t know why, until I realised it’s a dire task.

The lesson was on Divergent thinking… I didn’t get it… we watched a two minute video… great video…. I still didn’t get it.

I’ve spent all day today trying to get the work done, or rather avoiding facing the work. I’ve watched three episodes of Voyager, slept for an hour around 3pm, spent ages feeding treats to the cat, sorted out my Amazon wishlist… anything but do this.

If you want to see someone who’s done the homework properly follow this link:

It’s my friend Sarahs blog task.

I’m going to lose marks, but, Y’know there’s some things in life that you know you just can’t face, and answering questions on paragraphs is one of them.

Instead I looked at Divergent thinking.

Here’s the link to the video we saw in class:

It’s a talk by Sir Ken Robinson on Divergent Thinking and education. The video we were shown stops at 2 min 18, but this link shows a minute more.

This idea that as we get older we become less and less creative really interested me for two reasons.

1. I’m classed as a mature student, although my maturity can be questioned.

2. Not everyone loses this skill over time.

I’m statistically less creative than the majority of people on my course, but there’s something I can do about it.

My search for divergent thinking understanding led me to Tina Seelig from Stanford University.

She talks about creative people and the decline of creativity. One thing she brought up is the change of learning space as we age.

For example, my primary school classroom looked like this:

Image 1: AIS, . (2012). Kindergarten classroom. [Online image]. ,

Well, okay, we had a seperate room for our bags, we had a blackboard not a white board, There were no computers, and the TV was wheeled in on a huge trolley, and there was a play house in the corner.

Then high school

Image 2: BBC, . Starting secondary school. [Online image]. ,

Pretty accurate, except for the art room where tables faced the wall. The TV was still on a locked trolley, but we rarely saw it.

Workplace courses

And suddenly I’m not as surprised with the age/loss of creativity connection.

Then I came across a talk by Michael Bahr, He talks about thinking about the box. His idea for creativity is that we need more rules instead of less rules.

For example, a drama teacher might ask students to create a scene.

But the students need rules, the more rules means the more creative we become.

So the same teacher might say, create a scene, but…

It has do be about a penguin… in the desert… eating ice cream…

and suddenly creativity begins.

Finally, in writing this I found another video of a Ken Robinson talk.

He interviewed Paul McCartney and asked about his schooling. He asked Paul whether he enjoyed music at school and whether the music teacher thought Paul had any talent. Paul said No.

Elvis Presley, while at school, wasn’t allowed in the glee club because it was thought he would ruin his sound.

This gives me hope.

So, I will probably lose marks for not doing my homework as asked, but I’ve enjoyed the process of discovery.