Monthly Archives: June 2013

100WCGU Week 94

This week’s prompt is the phrase ‘the angle was very acute’

The meeting was called for 9:30. All parties were seated around the table and Jim tapped his  pen nervously on the white vellum in front of him. The double doors were snatched open and the architect entered in a flurry of damp raincoat and assorted document cases. He apologised whilst handing over his coat and arranging the documents on the table.

A stapled booklet was handed to each person. There was silence punctuated by the rustling of paper. Finally the man at the head of the table boomed out,

‘It will never work. The angle is very acute. Surely this can not be built.’

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Disgraceful!

I haven’t blogged on here since April. I’ve neglected my 100 Word Challenges completely. I feel so guilty. My first novel (which implies there might be others!) is still unfinished and requiring attention. I am in danger of losing the will to be creative and need to get back on track.

I will! Really.

Sports Day

I am not a great lover of sport or exercise. I know I should, I know it is good for my health, I know it will help with my bones which are my weak spot, but I find it tedious and boring. At school, I was always the last one picked by the sporty little team captains. Me and the big, fat girl. I can’t throw and I can’t catch. I can’t hit a ball with a bat. So for me, Sports Day was my idea of Hell. I was the one who ran up to the high jump pole and knocked it off deliberately. I was the one who learned to play the violin for six years because it meant missing a lesson of PE each week. (Funnily enough, I managed to ‘mime’ playing the violin in the school orchestra as I was rubbish at playing that too.)

This week a school banned parents from attending Sports Day as having an audience is too stressful for the children. In the past, others have suggested that competitive sports are bad for children. Even though my experience of sports in school is quite a negative one, I find myself disagreeing with both of these stances. In my experience, children love their parents to come to school to see them perform. They want to do their best to please their parents or carers. School should be encouraging parents to come into school as much as possible as those relationships can bear fruit and enhance the work done in school and the co-operation of parents with work taken home. For example, parents can make excellent role models in Careers work, bringing years of experience in a variety of fields into the classroom.

As for ‘competition’, whether we level children or not, they will do it themselves. They compare work and teachers’ comments. They compare marks in spelling tests. They compete with each other in maths. My five year old grandson knows clearly what it means to be working on ‘green table’. His face beams when he tells me of his successes but he also knows that there will be times when he doesn’t do as well as others in his class.

It is life. There are winners and losers. When they eventually enter the ‘real world’ they need to be prepared. I learned long ago that sport wasn’t my thing but that I had other talents. I am not scarred by my school sport experiences. Just older and wiser.

What We Don’t See

A few years ago I had a boy in my class who was not very able. He really struggled with reading and consequently his self-confidence was low. He and his brother lived with mum, who had mental health issues and was unable to work. Money was pretty much non-existent and yet, for all that, he was one of the nicest boys I have ever taught. He got heavily involved in an enterprise project I was running and got to the point where he stood up in front of an invited audience and gave a presentation. It was a real struggle for him but the patience of the audience and their gentle encouragement helped him through and at the end his face beamed with the sense of achievement he gained from the experience.

Over those months I got to know him quite well but as his class tutor I had to take him to task over his punctuality and attendance. He was also prone to nodding off in class. We built up a trusting relationship and eventually he told me why he was having problems.

It turned out that he and his brother were taking it in turns to stay up all night and keep a watchful eye on their mother. They were terrified that she was going to attempt suicide and so had made a pact to never leave her unaccompanied, day and night. 

I have been in the position many times of nagging those who don’t work in class or display poor behaviour. I’ve dished out sanctions by the bucketload. I have referred young people to other staff and, on occasions, outside agencies. I have also seen and heard other staff shouting and ranting at some pupils for a variety of reasons.

How many of those teachers would have treated those pupils differently had they known the reasons why? Sometimes it is what we don’t see that has the biggest impact on our young.

Play

Testing, testing, testing….. our children’s lives are blighted by testing. We live in a society where every child must be allocated a number based on their ability to perform a task under pressure at a set time regardless of how they feel, how much sleep they had last night or whether they had breakfast this morning. 

What are the potential results of that? Are we producing a generation of people who will only consider themselves ‘successful’ if they have a higher number than their peers? 

Here’s my suggestion. Let’s allow children to play. Yes, that also means that girls can play what would be considered ‘boys’ games’ and boys can play with dolls and teasets if they want to. Let’s allow their imaginations to run riot. Let’s encourage them to interact with each other, socialise, grow tolerance and acceptance, negotiate and empathise. Let’s teach them to respect others and use good manners. Let’s make sure they know how to keep safe and healthy. Let’s get them out in the fresh air and sunshine, grow things in the earth and appreciate nature. Let’s get rid of this obsession with being grown-ups too early, wearing pretend bras and T-shirts with sexy slogans. They are children, for God’s sake. Let’s encourage them to keep their innocence as long as is humanly possible. 

Let’s forget making them jump through hoops until they have had a good chance to just be children.

Dentist

Today I have to go to the dentist. I really don’t like going to the dentist. I hate being made to lie back while somebody puts all their fingers in my mouth. I hate the feeling of not being able to breathe or swallow. I don’t like the noises and equipment. However, despite all of this, I do treasure my teeth and look after them well. I couldn’t bear to have false teeth in a glass by the bed, grinning at me each morning when I wake up.

I go every six months to have my teeth checked. I have a super duper electric toothbrush that grimaces at me from its bluetooth monitor if I don’t do the whole two minutes. I have a poky stick thingy to clean the gaps between my teeth. I watch makeover programmes and dream about having amazing, perfect, pure white teeth like the ones they give people on there.

For the first time in my life, I am worried that I may have the start of an abscess so am going to have it checked to make sure I catch it early before it becomes really painful. It is a new dentist just round the corner so I am hoping that she is going to be amazing and that I feel no pain (except in my purse, of course). I will not be tempted by the offer of tooth whitening and beautiful veneers.

Honestly.

I think.

Senseless

This morning I am angry. Near to my home is a breeding colony for Little Terns. It is clearly marked and fenced off. It is there every year so local people are aware and keep their dogs under control away from the area to allow the birds to breed.

Image

These birds are in rapid decline and last year 110 pairs of these rare seabirds nested there and no chicks were bred due to natural predation. This year only 65 pairs came all the way from west Africa to breed there. Their eggs were two-thirds of the way through their incubation.

This morning it was discovered that all 50 eggs had been taken from the nests. This is a potential disaster and could lead to the end of the colony there.

I can’t think of words bad enough to describe the low-life who did this – and for what purpose? Egg collection was something that children did when I was little. I don’t agree with it but some children at school had one egg of each type. I can only think that this ‘collector’ plundered those nests with a view to selling the eggs to other so-called ‘collectors’. I just hope and pray that someone knows who it is and shops them so that they can feel the full power of the law.

But for those potential Little Terns it is too late. They will never hatch to take their chance with their natural predators and the seabirds move one step closer to extinction.