It’s written in the stars

An interest in star signs is worldwide. A google search of ‘star signs’ brought up 126 000 000 results in 0.15 seconds. You can find out what your star sign is, famous people who share your sign, get a description of your personality, find out who you are or are not compatible with, and what the future holds for you.

But how accurate do you think your star sign is, and how accurate are the predictions?

Are they any more accurate than a teacher’s predictions of a child’s future?

Think back to your school days and the comments written by your teachers on your report cards. Have you lived up, or down, to their expectations?

Comments sometimes described me as conscientious and said that I worked hard. At other times I needed to work harder, and was told that I could do better, that I needed to concentrate more on … (insert subject name – any will do). Comments in opposition, like the two sides of a coin or the twins of my star sign Gemini.

However teachers do not always know, and cannot always predict future life journeys of their students.  Consider how inaccurate were teachers’ predictions for people as diverse as Einstein, Edison, Churchill, Darwin and Pasteur who showed little promise while at school. Disney was accused of lacking imagination, and Salvador Dali of daydreaming. John Lennon’s teachers were not impressed when he answered “happy” in response to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The list of successful people with unforeseen potential is long. I’m sure you know stories of many others from all walks of life. Maybe yours is one!

Over at the Carrot Ranch this week, the flash fiction prompt by Charli Mills is to: In 99 words (no more, no less) focus on the personality traits of a character informed by the zodiac.

Mine is not exactly about the zodiac, but about another form of prediction equally as accurate.

As expected

A lawyer, a doctor and a journalist walked into a bar, ‘Class of ’99’ emblazoned on their backs.  

Talk flowed freely.

When someone mentioned old ‘four-eyes’ Proffet, laughter erupted.

“Thought he was a prophet,” they chorused.

“Mark my stars,” the lawyer mimicked, wagging his finger. “You need to learn to be less argumentative.”

The doctor peered over her glasses and giggled, “And you miss, will never amount to anything!”

“Remember Prophet’s favourite, ‘most likely to succeed’?” said the journalist. “Saw Daniel last week, handing out horrorscopes, on corner of Main and Black. Hardly recognised him. Poor sod.”

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post, including my flash fiction

I’ll leave you with a song about a star someone was born under. Not my star, and not the zodiac either, but a popular song when I was growing up.

I was born under a wandering star  sung by Lee Marvin in Paint Your Wagon

Fifteen blogs for inspiration!

very inspiring blogger

Recently Julie Stock nominated me for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Thank you Julie, I am totally delighted to accept. Julie blogs at ‘My Writing Life’ Julie writes about her journey towards being a published author and offering help to others who are in the same position.

It is only a short while ago that I posted an acceptance for the same award from Geoff Le Pard. In that post I promised I would do some exploring to seek out other inspiring bloggers to add to our growing community. Since then I have also created a page listing awards for which I have been nominated and those whom I have nominated. I’m sure a quick look at that page will suggest many worthwhile bloggers to follow.

Here are the rules of the award:

  • Thank and link to the person who nominated you.
  • List the rules and display the award.
  • Share seven facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
  • Optional: follow the blogger who nominated you, if you don’t already do so.

Map with Indigenous Australian place names

The seven facts I am sharing with you in this post are seven locations in which I have lived that are named using a word from the languages of Aboriginal peoples of Australia. Although I have lived in more than 20 homes for varying lengths of time, only seven locations have Aboriginal names.

  1. Yuleba: “the place of water lilies”, about 420km west of Brisbane: birth until about 10 months.
  2. Kallangur: “a goodly or satisfactory place”, about 20km north of Brisbane: 10 months until 61/2 years. I started school at Kallangur walking the approximately 2 miles (3.3km) to and from school with my older brother and sister.
  3. Wooloowin: “fish”, a suburb of Brisbane: 1970 – 72 (teacher training).
  4. Duaringa: “a meeting place on the swamp oaks”, about 116km west of Rockhampton: second year of teaching.
  5. Koolyanobbing: “large hard rocks”, approximately halfway between Perth and Kalgoorlie (i.e. in ‘the middle of nowhere’): about 18 months during 1977/78.
  6. Wagga Wagga: “the place of many crows”, approximately 450km south-west of Sydney: 1979 (university).
  7. Jindalee: “bare hills”, a suburb of Brisbane: 1997-2004 (though have lived in adjoining suburbs since 1981).

In this post I am nominating fifteen blogs that I have not before nominated for an award. If I have nominated you previously, you are still on my list of wonderful blogs to follow (see page).

It is up to each nominee whether they wish to participate by accepting the award and/or paying the compliment forward. The purpose of my nomination is simply to share with others how valuable I consider the blog to be.

 

Julieanne To Read To Write To Be

teacher versus mum

Irene Waters Reflections and Nightmares

Linda Petersen Raising 5 Kids with Disabilities and Staying Sane Blog

Geoff Le Pard TanGental

Carrie Gelson There’s a Book for That

Matt Renwick Reading by Example

Michael Michalko Imagineer7’s Weblog

A.J. Juliani Teach Different

Three Teachers Talk

Sarah Brentyn Are you kidding me?!

Shelley Wilson Live Every Day with Intention

Ross Morrison McGill @TeacherToolkit

Jean Cogdell jean’s writing

Tara Smith A Teaching Life

I hope you find time to visit some of those blogs. There is much to inspire!

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I value your feedback. Please share your thoughts on any aspect of this post.

I-think-therefore-I-am-I

Food for thought

Thinking is as much a part of life as is eating. Something to think about is often referred to as ‘food for thought’; and food for thought is just as important to wellbeing as is food for the body. When I’m not thinking about where I’ll partake of my next meal, or what I might eat, I’m often thinking about education.

I recently read an article on Selected Reads called Teacher’s Guide to Teaching Students to Ask Their Own Questions which included a review of a book by Rothstein and Santana entitled “Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions“.

I will be upfront and admit that I have not read the book and am commenting on the review alone which states that the book brings together “several years of research and experience into a methodology for applying their groundbreaking thought and technique.” It goes on to say that “The basic argument … is pretty basic: for our students to achieve excellence and equity, we need to teach them the skill of question formulation.” (my emphasis)

 

I really have no argument with the premise of the book. In fact, it sounds like a pretty good read to me. I have even previously blogged about the importance of asking questions in these posts: Child’s play – the science of asking questions  and What you don’t know …

 

What I wonder about is: If it is so important for students to learn to ask questions, why do we spend so much time in school teaching them to stop asking questions and to learn just what is presented to them, whether they like it or not?

 

Aren’t children born asking questions? Aren’t they pretty good at asking questions (verbal or otherwise) to figure out what they need to know about the world? Why then do we sit them in desks all day and force-feed them content for future on-demand regurgitation?

 

I consider it to be a bit like inviting someone to a feast but feeding them pap, which is the essence of my flash fiction piece written in response to the prompt suggested by Charli Mills this week at the Carrot Ranch: In 99 words (no more, no less) include food in your story.

 

 

Food?

His eyes widened, flitting across the table, scanning the feast, a smorgasbord of sensory delights. His mouth moistened and tummy growled.

Where to start? A bit of this. A little of that. A whole lot of that! Mmmm!

He rubbed his belly and licked his lips.

Suddenly he was marched away and slammed onto a hard wooden bench. A bowl of colourless pap was flung at him.  “Eat this!”

He recoiled.

“Eat it!”

The overfilled spoon was shoved between tightened teeth.

He gagged.

“It’s good for you!”

He spluttered.

Over time he learned. “Not so bad,” he thought.

 

 

Okay. Maybe I’m exaggerating. Maybe I’m painting the picture darker than reality. Maybe. But sometimes that is necessary for even partial recognition of the situation to occur. You know about the swinging pendulum.

 

The picture painted by Scott McLeod of dangerously ! irrelevant is no brighter. In his post The declining economic value of routine cognitive work  he says that while most employees (in the U.S.) are engaged in non-routine cognitive and interpersonal work; routine cognitive work is what students are mostly engaged and assessed in, and what traditionalist parents and politicians advocate. So while work tasks may require “problem-solving, intuition, persuasion, and creativity”, school tasks involve things such as automation and repetition.

 

My wish is that all parents, school administrators, education policy makers and teachers do as Rothstein and Santana suggest – let them ask questions!

 

Of course I couldn’t write a post about food and questions and not mention the blog of one of my very favourite questioners, Bec, who writes about “wholefoods, vegetarianism, slow living and their existential friends” at There’s no food. There’s much food for thought there!

And now for something a little bit different: The edible cookbook. It’s a cookbook you can read, cook and eat! I wonder what questions its designer was asking to come up with such an innovative and interesting design.

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please join in the discussion or share your thoughts about any aspect of this post, including my flash fiction.

 

 

 

 

How inclusive are you?

A few weeks ago I wrote a post called Benefits of inclusion.

In that post I linked to this TEDx talk by Dan Habib, Disabling Segregation.

In the talk, Dan advocates for the inclusion of students with differences in mainstream schools. He explains that there are benefits for typical children as well as for children with disabilities.

The benefits include:

  • better communication skills
  • higher academic achievements
  • wider social networks, and
  • fewer behaviour problems.

He also says that typical children learn to be more patient, caring, compassionate and loving.

He decries the fact that although these benefits are known most children with differences still spend most of their day segregated.

In that post I also referred to article on The Cool Cat Teacher’s blog in which Gary Dietz, author of Dads of Disability, shared 5 practical lessons for elementary classroom inclusion.

His suggestions are:

  1. ‘Meet the student “where the student lives” (where they need to be, at their level of development)
  2. Presume competence
  3. Be creative in your use of ‘adaptive’ technology
  4. Listen to parents and help them listen to the child
  5. Give “overlooked” children the same chance to shine as the superstars.

The post received many wonderful comments, including some by Gary, which continued the discussion. It is worth having a peek back to see what people were thinking if you are interested.

Because your response to that post was so positive, I thought I would share with you some others that I have come across since publishing it.

On her blog, teacher versus mum, an Adelaide teacher wrote a post called When inclusivity becomes exclusion. In the article TeacherMumWife questions whether it is the attitude of teachers towards students with disabilities that impedes the progress of inclusivity.

TeacherMumWife describes a situation at a school in her local area as one promoting exclusion, rather than inclusion, through its lack of preparedness. She describes the aggressive and fear-inducing behaviour of one child and condemns the attitude of parents and teachers who question whether the school is the best place for the child. She asks, “isn’t it about time teacher attitudes got a kick up the bum, and teacher training programs and systemic funding be modified to reflect this need in our classrooms?

respect

I personally favour the idea of inclusion and believe that everyone deserves to be treated with respect and given a fair go. However in a situation such as that described by TeacherMumWife, a situation that many teachers are faced with on a regular basis, I have to admit teacher guilt in also questioning whether the regular classroom is the best place for the child.

A child with aggressive and disruptive behaviours, who injures teachers and classmates and who disrupts the learning of other students, in my opinion, is not giving others a fair go. I do not think accepting them into the classroom is equitable. If a child with special needs is placed into a classroom that is unable to provide for those needs, then it is not any more satisfactory for that child than it is for any other participants in the classroom.

There is already a great deal of pressure upon classroom teachers. The expectation that a general classroom teacher should be able to cater for a great diversity of special needs in addition to the range of diverse abilities and needs in a group of twenty-five to thirty or more students is, I believe, unrealistic in most current educational systems and environments. Qualifications to teach special education requires additional years of study. Teacher training, here is Queensland anyway, is already four years. How many years will it take to prepare teachers to cater for all needs that may present themselves at the classroom door?

People_16_Teacher_Blackboard

I agree with TeacherMumWife that more training is required so that teachers may develop a greater understanding of differences, and develop a genuine empathy for parents of and students with those differences. Additionally education must receive more funding to provide trained teachers and support personnel to work with students with special needs, and enable them to be more integrated into a situation which caters to their needs as much as to the needs of others.

 

A commenter on the blog agrees, saying, “The teachers involved in any class environment, have a right and expectation not to be placed in a situation they are not trained for or feel threatened by the situation they find themselves in.” He describes the progress of his ASD daughter from early primary to high school years.

Blake Wiggs, an instructional coach shared an article called Rethinking tolerance: Ensuring all students belong on Edutopia. He explains an exercise conducted with his students that highlights a similar situation to that noted by Dan Habib in his TEDx talk: that people form friendships with those who are similar to themselves and that perceptions of those who are different may be influenced by stereotypical thoughts. Blake’s article did not address disability specifically but the activity and attitudes are relevant just the same. He noted three necessary ingredients for creating a more tolerant environment, including:

  1. Create a culture of acceptance
  2. Address feelings of isolation
  3. Foster meaningful relationships

 

I think Jamie Davis Smith would agree with those. In her post, I’m so sorry my daughter’s disability is such an inconvenience for you shared on HuffPost Parents, Jamie expresses a parent’s frustration at the lack of consideration shown to those with disabilities. However she is not talking about school inclusion, but acceptance and inclusion in society.

Linda Petersen has a many positive suggestions on her Raising 5 Kids with Disabilities and Staying Sane Blog. Linda shares stories of her lifetime living with people with disabilities. In her recent post she says,

Every child is a joy! Imagine yourself in the mother of a disabled child’s shoes. Have empathy for that mom. Join in her admiration of her child, and maybe you will also internalize the concept that “God don’t make junk!

 

I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post.

 

Sounds like . . .

Kookaburra in my backyard

Kookaburra in my backyard

The flash fiction challenge set by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch this week is all about sounds, specifically a sound that heralds change.

Of course I think immediately of the school sounds: the bells, buzzers or sirens that mark the beginning or end of a school session or day; children’s laughter in the playground interrupted by the cry over a scraped knee or elbow; the hush that overtakes the classroom when the teacher’s footsteps in the corridor announce her arrival; the monotonous chant of sounds parroted repeatedly as cards of letters are flashed in unrelenting sequence, marking the imposition of content-driven curricula where once were child-centred approaches and talk was king.

I think, too, of the sounds of nature that tell me of the changes in the day: the birds that sing outside my window heralding each new day – the kookaburras, butcherbirds, magpies, little corellas and koels; the rainbow lorikeets that chatter noisily telling me that evening is on its way; the screeching and whooshing of fruit bats as they wing their way across the darkening sky; the thud of a possum landing on the fence and the scratching of its claws as its scrambles from tree to tree under cover of the night.

Cockatoos looking for food, Hamilton Island

Cockatoos looking for food, Hamilton Island

We are fortunate in Australia that we don’t have a great number of large menacing animals terrorising our neighbourhoods. Sure dingoes, crocodiles and sharks may be scary but you don’t often come across them, and our most dangerous animals are more likely to be small and quiet and sneak up on you, like our spiders, snakes, jellyfish and ticks. There are no sounds associated with these to give you a warning.

That’s not to say there are no scary sounding animals. Any sound, if you don’t know what is making it, has the potential to be scary; as in this 99-word flash (memoir):

Awakened suddenly, I didn’t dare breathe. The sound was unrecognizable: guttural, movie theatre loud in surround sound. I sat up. The sound continued. I wasn’t dreaming.  I nudged Bob. No response. Gripped with fear but needing to know, I tiptoed to the window and peeked through the curtain slit. I expected to see The Creature from the Black Lagoon. There was nothing. Now it came from the front, inside the house? My son! I tore down the hall. He slept peacefully! Back to the bedroom. Bob awoke. “Did you hear that?” he asked, wide eyes staring . . .

The following day I phoned the Queensland museum and attempted to explain what I heard. The fellow at the other end of the phone mimicked the sound exactly!! He identified it as a male brushtail possum warning others of its territory. These possums are very common in our area and I was amazed that I hadn’t heard this particular sound before. I hear it frequently now as every night they are moving about in the neighbourhood trees and running along our fences and roofs. I have never again heard it at the intensity of that first time, and now that I know what it is, it is no longer scary. In fact, possums are rather cute, as long as they are not living in your roof, eating the produce of your garden or stealing your Christmas puddings!

This video gives a hint of the brush tail’s sound I heard:

Another sound that I found quite unnerving at the time of first hearing was that of the mutton birds in the still of the night while we were holidaying on Heron Island, just off the Queensland coast at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef. I had always thought the cry of the curlew to be quite eerie, but it didn’t match that of the mutton birds whose cry was more like that of the banshees.

I have written about this frightening experience in the following 99-word flash (memoir):

The boat tossed mercilessly. I battled to contain my insides while all around were losing theirs into little paper bags offered unceremoniously to obliging staff.

Finally, just before landfall, I joined in. Then it was over – for me. Bob’s queasiness laid him up for the night; but I went to tea.

The path back to the cabin was unlit but for a splash of moonlight. Suddenly horrific wailing assaulted my ears. Was Bob being murdered? I hurried back. He was fine, but the eerie sound unsettled us far into the night.

In the morning we laughed: mutton birds nesting!

I was fortunate to have not tripped and fallen as the mutton birds nest in burrows and these were dotted all over the island! Of course, once the source of the sound had been identified, we were no longer concerned.

While my two snippets of memoir don’t fit Charli’s criterion of fiction, they are about sound and I have used them to point to the power of education to change one’s situation. When the source of the sound was unknown, it was frightening. Once we knew what it was, it was no longer scary.

Knowledge is power. There is a saying, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you” but there is also another that says “What you don’t know won’t do you much good either”. I have written about this previously here.

Conspiracy theorists believe that those with power withhold knowledge from the masses (e.g. aliens are among us); but I believe that schools that favour test marks over individual development; content over creativity and critical thinking; and conformity over diversity are conspiring to contain the masses. One of the easiest ways to suppress and maintain control over others is to keep them ignorant. I am not suggesting that schools keep students ignorant, but they could do a lot more to maintain children’s natural enthusiasm for learning. I look forward to sounds that will herald positive changes in education.

 

I value your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post.

 

 

 

To-invent-you-need-a Edison

Imagine that!

Recently Hope at Nanny Shecando sent me a tweet requesting some thoughts about imaginative play in a school setting. Sadly I would say that imaginative play has been just about pushed out in the ever-increasing content-driven and assessment focused curriculum. Seeing children as young as five spending much of their day sitting at desks filling in worksheets and parroting back isolated bits of information flashed at them in meaningless drill and practice sessions is about as far away from my thoughts about education as you could get. If it is difficult for early childhood teachers to squeeze time for imaginative play into their programs, imagine (there’s that word) how difficult it is for teachers of older children.

However, whenever I hear the above quote by Thomas Edison, I am reminded of how an early childhood classroom should be: a place for imagination, exploration and discovery.  Parents may tire of the cardboard box creations that children regularly bring home, wondering where each one can be stored (or discreetly disposed of!), but the value to be had from the opportunity to create, imagine and play must not be understated.

For imagination to flourish in an early childhood classroom, I suggest the following ingredients are essential:

A recognition of the importance of play and imagination in the healthy development of children and the prioritisation of opportunities for imaginative play every day by providing:

  • Time – lengthy and uninterrupted, with the opportunity for created play areas to be left intact over a number of days or weeks
  • Space – both indoor and outdoor with a variety of larger and smaller spaces
  • Opportunities for self-selection of activity and self-direction
  • Books for story reading and play acting
  • Variety of props: things such as dress-up items including lengths of fabric that can be a kings robe, a princess’s dress, a magic carpet, an apron, a bed; hats and scarves; toys like cars, dolls, animal toys; building blocks and cardboard boxes; paper, cardboard scissors and pens for creating signs, posters and crowns; areas for quiet play with cushions; open spaces for creating larger ‘worlds’ . . . the items that can be used to inspire imagination are limitless.

When children are showing interest in a particular topic, an observant teacher may gather up a variety of props and leave then in a box for children to discover and use as they decide.

 

In an earlier post, Learning at its best: A classroom of magic, Hope herself described a school with an open space ‘where magic happens’. She described a friendship tree where ‘friendship and freedom of speech are fostered’; an area with a ‘magic carpet . . . plush beaded cushions and Middle Eastern style blankets . . . a place for imagination to prosper. Anything is possible when dreamed, imagined or conjured whilst on the magic carpet.’

magic carpet

She described an area for drama and the opportunity of being and expressing yourself. She described a creativity corner where young inventors could create anything they could imagine; and spaces to read, explore, share and dream. One could think this school was in Hope’s dreams, her imagination of what is possible. But it is a real school educating real children in very positive ways that will have a very different effect that the scenario I described above. However it is not a typical school. There is not one like it in every suburb. In Hope’s words, it is a ‘very select private school’. But don’t all children deserve learning opportunities such as these?

After re-reading Hope’s post, I’m not entirely certain why she invited me to share my thoughts about imaginative play in a school setting. I think she has described a wonderful example of imagination in practice. The design of the school and the aspects of the program described above, show the value of imagination, not only of the students but of the school designers, administrators and teachers.

In a recent post Just imagine . . . the power of imagination I talked about the power of imagination to drive creativity and innovation, and suggested that much of what we now accept as commonplace was once only in someone’s imagination. Einstein said that,

‘Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.’

Maria Montessori is attributed with the idea that Play is child’s work’. In this article Thinking about Children’s Play David Elkind, refutes that idea citing works by both Freud and Piaget, a psychologist whose work greatly influenced thinking about child development and learning. Elkind, himself a professor of child development and of author of books such as The Hurried Child, The Power of Play  and Miseducation, says that ‘Although Montessori has made many important and lasting contributions to early childhood education, her identification of work and play in young children was unfortunate.’ He says that, in play, children are not preparing for life, they are living life.

Early-instruction - David Elkind

Elkind does not favour the imposition of formal learning situations upon children of increasingly younger ages.  The following excerpt from Miseducation, shared in Commentary: The ‘Miseducation’ of Young Children Elkind says, ‘When we instruct children in academic subjects, or in swimming, gymnastics, or ballet, at too early an age, we miseducate them; we put them at risk for short-term stress and long-term personality damage for no useful purpose. There is no evidence that such early instruction has lasting benefits, and considerable evidence that it can do lasting harm.’

He continues, saying that ‘The most important thing is an excitement about and enthusiasm for learning. Skills are easily learned when the motivation is there.’ I agree wholeheartedly and have joined in with a discussion of motivation in a number of posts, most recently in Motivation – why we do the things we do.

An-ounce-of-motivation David Elkind

In another article Can we play? shared on The Greater Good in 2008, Elkind explains that imaginative play is important to academic as well as social and emotional development. Unbelievably, he said that ‘More than 30,000 schools in the United States have eliminated recess to make more time for academics.’ It is difficult to imagine how unwelcoming and uninspiring a school without recess would be. I wonder how much lunch time those who made these rules allow themselves.

He says ‘Play is motivated by pleasure. It is instinctive and part of the maturational process. We cannot prevent children from self-initiated play; they will engage in it whenever they can. The problem is that we have curtailed the time and opportunities for such play.

In the words of Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam), ‘Where do the children play?’  I add ‘and when?’

 

If you wish to read further, here are some links to get you started. I don’t agree with all the content. Some suggest a more structured approach than I would favour. However, as with everything, a broader knowledge helps one more clearly formulate one’s own position.

Assessing and Scaffolding Make-Believe Play by Deborah J. Leong and Elena Bodrova

Teachosaur thoughts ‘Play is the work of children’ … J. Piaget

Tools of the Mind Supporting Make-Believe Play

Psychology today The Need for Pretend Play in Child Development

 

 

I value your feedback. Please join in the discussion by sharing your thoughts about any aspect of this post.

The best of days

school cropped

It is often said that school days are the best days of our lives.

Considering that I have had far more days at school than not (as student and teacher) then I should probably agree, else I’d be saying that most of my days haven’t been the best.

For many adults it is not the in-class time that is most memorable or of which they have the most pleasant memories, it is the playtimes and the before and after walking to and from school times.

For some children, the in-class time drags while they daydream of long summer holidays and activities with family and friends. Other children thrive with the structured learning, soaking up everything offered to them.

19178-School-Building-Graphic

In her post, School: A Suitable Place for Fiction? Anne Goodwin wrote that she is ‘always pleasantly surprised when children these days claim to enjoy school’. On the other hand, in a comment left on previous post here, Lori Schafer said that all her life she had ‘failed to understand why most children don’t like school. Why don’t they enjoy learning, and why don’t they enjoying studying, and why don’t they enjoy writing papers? Because, of course, there are a small percentage of us who do genuinely appreciate the discipline of schooling.’ She was one of them.

In his post, School’s Out – and Education’s In, Geoff Le Pard said that ‘People confuse school with education, as if they were synonymous’. (I have written a poem to express differences I see between education and schooling. You can read it here.) He goes on to say that ‘education is a constant, not a time limited schooling experience’ and disagrees with the cliché that school days are the best. He says that ‘all those days and bits of days when learning occurs make up the best days of your life’. I agree with Geoff that learning new things, particularly things one has an intrinsic motivation to learn, gives great joy.

Irene Waters said in her post about school that she loved her primary school days. As the end of her high school years approached, unable to see the point in continuing, Irene wanted to leave and start her nursing career. Her parents convinced her to stay and finish year twelve. While she didn’t at the time, she now appreciates the value in having done so and is grateful that her ‘parents laid down the law’.

Talking about education and schooling is nothing new for me, that’s what my blog is about after all. However for a lot of people, once finished, school is a thing of the past and not much thought is given to it later. The reason why so many others are talking about it this week is the flash fiction prompt set by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch. Each week Charli challenges writers to pen a 99 word story about a particular topic. This week her topic is school.

old school room

In her post, Charli describes an abandoned one-room schoolhouse that is close to her home. She explains that these schoolhouses ‘were often among the first structures built by pioneers’ and comments on the importance that was placed on education in those pioneering days. Indeed education has been important throughout the history of humankind. It is what sets us apart from other creatures.

In the words of Jean Piaget,

The-principal-goal-of education - Piaget

I have touched on these aspects of education in previous posts and will definitely do so again in future posts.

In a tweet Anne Goodwin hinted that she thought I may find this post difficult to write as I have so many options to choose from. Charli Mills thought I might mention how we wrote on slates when I was at school (my children would probably have suggested I write about using dinosaur bones to scratch crude messages in the sand!)

Instead, I thought about the strategies schools use to create uniformity, and of the many pathways that one may take through life after finishing school.  I hope the analogy makes sense to you.

 teacherbell

Chocolate balls

The final school bell tolled and the students erupted from the building like a burst box of chocolate balls, scattering in every direction and at varying speeds. Some stuck together along pathways safe and sure. Others crashed and bumped over roads less traveled seeking excitement, new discoveries and secrets to explore. Others stopped abruptly, their journeys foiled by stubborn obstacles. Still others, rolling upwards, failed to maintain the momentum to carry them over and beyond with those more adventurous others.  

Who would know?

Inside the box, they were identical, centers hidden. Outside, their uniqueness was on show.

My year 10 class - only 20 went on to year 12.

My year 10 class – only 20 went on to year 12.

I value your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post.