Quick thoughts

Obligatory Christmas

By |November 9th, 2010|Quick thoughts|1 Comment

Christmas is about giving. Most of us agree on that. The expression of our love, care and interest in those close to us is how we celebrate Christmas. But that is changing.

I have heard of at least institution that has proclaimed:

“We have decided this year that instead of sending Christmas cards to each other, we will all donate to a charity.”

Although clearly well-intentioned, it strikes me that there are several things wrong with this directorate (for it was neither a proposition nor a collective decision).

If you don’t understand my gripe, then consider being told not to send Christmas cards at all. In isolation, this seems to me to be an unreasonable order. Also consider being told to donate to a charity of someone else’s choosing.

Both seem a little unsavoury: but when one is used to “offset” the other, combined with the collective pressure placed upon yourself, your peers and colleagues to contribute to a group effort, you might feel compelled to take part.

But why are these two requests combined? Why don’t they suggest that instead of decorating the staff room with tinsel and holly, everyone should donate to the local cat shelter? Why not cancel the Nativity play and ask the children to bring in tins of ravioli for the old people’s home?

Or… you can choose to give people Christmas cards and, if you feel so inclined, you could donate to a charity that you feel strongly for. It’s your Christmas to give!

Trust Me

By |October 6th, 2010|Quick thoughts|0 Comments

Seems I’m on the move again. Awaiting confirmation, I’ve been accepted to study for a PhD at Loughborough University in Mathematics Education. I should be starting in December.

It’s really quite exciting but also rather scary. It’s allowing me to continue in maths education but it is pretty much an entirely new beginning. It closes a chapter at Keele, but perhaps doesn’t end the story; and opens a new one, which surely won’t be the last!

The Birthday Chronicles XXV

By |September 11th, 2010|Quick thoughts|0 Comments

25. Crikey. My parents were 25 when I was born. I think I’m a little way off that at the moment. But it’s all part of the master plan. I think.

People

The greatest gift I received for my birthday was receiving loads of messages from people — from ones that I communicate with every day to those that I haven’t really spoken to in a long time to even those that I’ve never even met. Of course, leaving my phone on vibrate was a tad foolish but it ensured that I was at least awake in plenty time for Soccer AM.

It’s my fault that there is such a huge distance between myself and these people. The fact I see them so little dwells on my mind and knowing that it is my doing is somewhat painful.

Places

Having a car has made that a little easier. Since February I’ve covered over 10,000 miles seeing people and performing a whistle-stop tour of my entire life. I’ve visited Sittingbourne, Hexham, Canterbury, Newcastle, Chippenham, Stocksfield, Prudhoe, Bath, Keele and even Barcelona this year alone. Some people say “never go back”, but it’s next to impossible not to. It’s both refreshing and heart-wrenching to see what I once knew evolve. Except Sittingbourne, of course: Sittingbourne’s never changed!

Technology

Right now it feels like my life support machine is a mixture of optic fibres and telephone frequencies; my friends are all roughly sixteen pixels tall and procrastination costs 59p a pop. The fact that I consider myself fortunate to have, as it stands, a reasonably simple life and some contentment makes me wonder whether these are good things or bad things. I would love to see my friends and family much more often, but stubbornness, patience, and the passion to share what I have means I’d like people to come and see me more often. My task for this year is to make this happen!

I love you, you lovely, lovely people!

Progress

By |August 25th, 2010|Quick thoughts|1 Comment

I’ve received an invite to visit one of my lecturers in order to "discuss [my] final placement". Aside from the date, that is how much I know.

It’s progress, but I’m still no nearer to being able to commit. I don’t know where or when this placement might be. I am struggling to find accommodation available for three months, and not knowing dates or location does not help. Amidst this uncertainty, I have not applied for a student loan. It seems pointless to apply when I am doubtful I can make this work. I’m quite angry and upset, quite particularly at myself as had I passed first time there would have been no problem.

A Few Privacy Lessons

By |August 20th, 2010|Quick thoughts|1 Comment

The bandwagon continues to roll. Facebook Places is a voluntary new application on Facebook that tells your friends where you are. That’s nice. Being voluntary, you can elect not to tell certain friends and you can elect not to take part at all. Sounds pretty good to me.

So in times where it is vitally important not to conceal our middle names to nextdoor’s dog in case he uses the information to steal your bank details, your burglar alarm code and your husband, we all need to think about how we present ourselves on the Internet. I’ve come up with a few rules.

  1. If you’re naked, put some clothes on. Easy peasy. On the Internet, it’s just as simple. If you put anything you’re sensitive about on the Internet (more fool you), then maybe you should think about hiding it. On Facebook, take a look at your privacy settings. It’s not as hard as the press make out. It’s all on the Privacy Settings tab.
  2. Have a look in the mirror. If you see something strange on yourself, then you know what other people can see. Try to find your online profiles in another web browser where you don’t have any stored cookies. If you see things that you wished weren’t there, other people can see too. Then get rid, hide it, or get used to it.
  3. If you leave your door open, people can get in. Don’t stay logged in to Facebook on public or shared computers. If you’re worried that others could access your profile from your computer, then log out there, too.

Hope that helps.

Not So Pleased to Meat You

By |August 13th, 2010|Quick thoughts|1 Comment

Well, this is day three of vegetarianism.

Let me make this clear — my change in diet is purely for selfish reasons. I still enjoy the taste of meat; the slaughter of animals to make meat does not irk me so much and the price difference between meat and non-meat is not so great (it might even cost more). It does benefit me, however.

The motivation is digestion. I can gain protein, iron, selenium and other vital nutrients in other ways that more friendly to my digestive system, which is a mere gibbering wreck at the moment. But it does other good: for nature, the environment and all that. All the better, but I’m not going to be militant about it. If someone serves me bacon and eggs for breakfast, I won’t be rude…!

So far I’ve had tofu chow mein, which was interesting. I had to use far more soy sauce than I would have done, but tofu does have the property that it absorbs flavour, I’m told. I’m going to try making mushroom soup tomorrow.

Exile

By |August 12th, 2010|Quick thoughts|0 Comments

I know I have been neglecting this blog. Being in the teaching profession you have to be very careful what you say in any medium, not least the Internet where it is difficult to remain hidden. I intend to make a patchy return from my blogging exile.

At the moment I am exactly equidistant between the rock and a hard place. I am unable to decide on my next steps and this is not entirely due to my indecision. To those that know me, they will know that I haven’t qualified as a teacher and that I need to undertake a further final placement. I have some options open to me.

I could do exactly that. That is certainly not the easiest option. Without getting into “administration hiccups”, which are frustrating, I need to find accommodation for three months and get the money to pay for it. With regard to the accommodation, services attached to the university have been rather unhelpful — even delaying the return payment of our deposits for last year’s accommodation. Few private landlords are willing to offer such short term lets. In the absence of being able to give assurances on my future location this has added to the delay of finding me a potential school to do my placement in.

There is the option to abandon the idea of teaching completely, which I am not keen to do but seems the more realistic option. I am uncertain of the viability of this option. Judging where I am now compared to the desolate, disheartening place I was at this time last year, I feel I am in a worse position, somehow. Any potential employer worth their salt will ask me about the previous year and the reasons for not completing the course. Therefore, any role I take is likely to be menial. I have to be prepared for that, but I hope that anyone can see why this is less desirable to me than my first option.

I met and became friends with some absolutely unforgettable and brilliant people during my time there and, dare I say it, friends for life! But though I know I shouldn’t, I feel a little regretful that I went there.

Parenting by the Textbook

By |August 10th, 2010|Quick thoughts|1 Comment

Have a read of this article on the BBC News website. There are two important points that Frank Field MP proposes with regard to parenting and education. Seeing as education is an important aspect of my life, I comment.

The first point is that there should be more education in schools about parenting and how to become good parents. In fact, he cites a recent visit to a Birkenhead school where a group of 15 year olds suggested this would be the first thing they would wish to learn in school. That might seem extreme, but a lot of soon-to-be adults realise that they aren’t well equipped to be parents, and given some children become parents before adulthood perhaps that request becomes more pertinent.

The second suggestion Field makes is that parenting could become a GCSE subject:

“What I’m looking at now is whether we could teach it [parenting] through the other subjects, but also that the modules could actually be built into a separate GCSE,” he said.

“And in a sense the bonus would be both for the pupils and the schools that they’d be picking up an extra GCSE.”

MP thinks parenting GCSE could tackle ‘toerag parents’, BBC News

I would say, “wrong”. The problem with a GCSE is that it would have to be earned for it to be considered compatible and as worthy as other GCSEs. Therefore, there would have to be people that would fail GCSE Parenting. And what of them? Will they be prevented from becoming parents? Or will they be made to undertake the course again? Would those that pass the course be deemed “good parents” — will those with A* grades be encouraged to become foster parents?

Parenting education is genuinely a good idea, and many children progress through school and leave without really having gained an understanding of life skills. However, this is one of the vast list of topics that should be considered in a PSHE education (take a look at the PSHE Association website). My criticism is that schools pay little heed to PSHE education… cynics might speculate as to the reason.