sketchy perceptions

Sketchy Perceptions

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction prompt sketches

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that is a sketch or about a sketch. It can be “A Sketch of a Romance” or “The Sketch of Aunt Tillie.” Go where the prompt leads you to scribble.

My thoughts were a bit sketchy. This is what I came up with. I’d be interested to know your perception.

Sketchy Perceptions

He sketched the outline with chalk then filled in the details, outside-in. Curious passers-by gathered as the image emerged. Was the artist a paid entertainer or busker earning a buck? Some pushed coins into children’s hands to add to the chalk-drawn cap. When satisfied with his work, the artist stood in its centre and tossed the cap and contents high. As they fell, he spread his arms and disappeared into the painting. Perplexed on-lookers reported different perceptions. Many said he plummeted into darkness. Some said he flew on gold-tipped wings. Others described him simply as absorbed by his art.

It is easy to make snap judgements about others and situations from sketchy information, even at first sight. We do it all the time as we try to make sense of what we perceive, evaluating it against our existing knowledge and beliefs.

I have strong beliefs about education and how children learn so can quickly judge whether I will agree with the content of articles or not. However, I don’t confine my reading to articles that I know will support my beliefs. I read articles from a variety of viewpoints to gain some understanding of others’ positions. If I don’t know what they think, how can I interrogate those thoughts and evaluate them against my own, perhaps even reassess my beliefs? I would rather be informed than base my ideas upon sketchy information.

This week, I had the pleasure of reading two articles in popular media which reiterate things I have written about a number of times previously.

The title of an article by Angela Mollard in my local Courier-Mail intrigued me: We should be ashamed of how we treat teachers. The media is often quick to criticise teachers, blaming them for almost all of society’s ills, it sometimes seems. I wondered at the intent of this article. Mollard wrote that, although she is the daughter of a teacher, sister-in-law of a teacher, and friends with many teachers, she had no idea of a teacher’s life until she read the book Teacher by Gabbie Stroud. I am yet to read this memoir, but it is now high on my TBR list.

Mollard says, “She (Stroud) writes of the sacred bond between teacher and pupil, of advocating exhaustively for their needs, of loving them even when they were abusive and damaged and victims of the most heartbreaking of family circumstances.”

Mollard follows this by telling us that “Ultimately, Stroud gives up being a teacher. She’s broken by the profession but she maintains that she didn’t leave teaching, it left her”, and describes her book as “a clarion call to educators to change a system that values standardisation over creativity, curiosity, progress, self-belief and autonomy.”

Oh, yes! I applaud. I know many teachers who feel the same way.

Mollard then goes on to say that if parents want inspirational teachers for their children, they must be inspirational too, that they must stand beside and support teachers and do what they can to lighten their workload so more help can be given where it is truly needed. If you are a parent, please read the article for her suggestions. I have sketched out just a few of her ideas here.

If you can do only one thing for your children, it should be shared reading is the title of an article by Ameneh Shahaeian and Cen Wang in The Conversation. To any regular readers of my blog, the idea behind the title will be very familiar. It gladdens me when I see others promoting such good advice for parents.

However, in the article Shahaeian and Wang surprised me with the question, “is it really book reading that’s beneficial or is it because parents who read more to their children also provide a lot of other resources, and engage in a range of other activities with their children?

Does the question intrigue you as much as it did me? Shahaeian and Wang share the results of a longitudinal study they carried out to find an answer. Please read the article for their conclusions and suggestions for parents.

I’ve provided you with just the sketchy outlines of both these articles. If you are interested enough to read them, I’d love to know what you think.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

 

40 thoughts on “Sketchy Perceptions

  1. robbiecheadle

    I thought this was a most excellent post, Norah. I am sick of hearing about parents abusing teachers when their children don’t achieve. People expect the school and the teacher to do everything when it comes to educating their children and it doesn’t work like that. Education begins at home; it always has and it always will.

    Liked by 1 person

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  2. Charli Mills

    What a great flash, Norah! I love the idea of the artist being absorbed by his work while those who watch differ on how it went down. Clever writing! And some ponderous articles to read. I’m glad to see teachers are getting heard from behind the heavy bars of standardization. Wang’s question is indeed intriguing. I wonder if anyone has surveyed parents for what other activities they pursue with their children in addition to reading. I know that I always shared my passions with my children, too and one grew up to be a geologist, another an adventurer and all three have worked in marketing and write.

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Charli. I’m pleased you enjoyed the flash and that the message came through.
      “the heavy bars of standardisation” – what a great way of describing it. It can feel like prison. I did describe schooling a bit that way in my “Education is” poem.
      The time you put into reading, talking, playing, and being with your children has paid off. What an amazing crew you birthed and formed!

      Liked by 1 person

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  3. dgkaye

    Fantastic flash Norah. You left us to use our own discretion of the artist. A good example how people jump to conclusions.
    And I loved both articles. Of course a parent should be reading to their children. I grew up in homes without a single book. Nobody ever read to me. 😦 And I remember the compassion that both my kindergarten and grade 1 teacher had for me. I didn’t know it at the time, but as I grew up, I realized those 2 teachers knew my brokenness and tried to make me happy to help compensate. Teachers are the best friend to little children. ❤

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    1. Miriam Hurdle

      Debby, ❤ I appreciate what you shared. My dad was very strict. He didn't read to me, but he read the newspaper every single day. Even when he came to the US to visit me when he was 84 years old. He still read every day. It's not convenient for me to get Chinese Newspaper. The Chinese bookstores keep the papers for 3 days. I bought all 3 days. He said, "This is the old newspaper." Well, go back to childhood, I ended up reading his newspaper, trading pages. I even read the most graphical cases at 4th grade.
      So in that case, my dad, not knowingly, set up a good example for me to read.

      Talking about the importance of teachers. I'm so glad that you had good teachers in kindergarten and first grade. When I was in first grade, my teacher said I was bright. I was holding on those words all my life. I also got a notebook as a prize for being in the 2nd place of an abacus competition. I still remember the face of the teacher who presented me the notebook.
      I'm proud of being a caring teacher. One kindergarten student I had, upon graduation from college, bought me a sweatshirt from her college.
      When "No Child Left Behind" was the federal law in the US, I told the teachers that whoever wrote the law were not teachers. ❤

      Norah, ❤ I understand the issue of the education system and the downside of it. As far as the expectation of parents, we had many parents who don't speak English. Then when we taught the New Math, even English-speaking parents didn't know what to do with it.
      When I worked in the school district office as an administrator, part of my job was doing parent education. We tried to teach the parents to do their best with their kids. I used to say, the kids are your kids all your life. Each teacher only has your kids for one year.

      Norah, you have touched upon an enormous issue. I find myself looking at the government, the school administrators, the teachers, and the parents. And I hope that the kids somehow survived despite of the chaos and confusion. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

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      1. dgkaye

        Miriam, you were no doubt a bright child to grasp onto reading newspapers at a young age. I’m sure you were meant to be a teacher. And by the sounds of it, your students are blessed to have you as their teacher. ❤

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      2. Norah Post author

        Thanks for sharing your experiences, Miriam. What a wonderful example your father set for you by reading the newspaper every day. You saw reading as something valuable, something one should engage in, to learn from.
        You have become a wonderful teacher who understands children and can help them learn too. It is a great role to play, touching the lives of others in a positive way. If only all teachers could do so much, many more children would survive despite the chaos and confusion.

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    2. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Debby. I’m pleased you enjoyed the flash.
      Thank you also for sharing your childhood experiences. I’m so pleased those early childhood teachers encouraged you – just as they should. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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  4. Jules

    Your artist reminds me of the 3D artists that make a street look as if it has a whole in it.
    I like that different folks saw different things – just like when readers read – they can add themselves into articles or take out those things which make impressions. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. thecontentedcrafter

    This is a great flash story Norah – I love a bit of magic and whimsy and a possibility that knocks us off our perch of familiarity. The book sounds interesting, I’m going to assume from what you have said that it will say many of the things I say too -also maybe many familiar experiences – the dark side of teaching! I was intrigued to read a wee article a few weeks back that helicopter parenting is being moved over by the new ‘free-range’ style of parenting – let them have a go in short. I suppose like all modes it will swing too far in the other direction before finding a middle ground, but I take heart that it is moving. Teaching should be a joy – it’s not a ‘job’ it’s a vocation. But until teacher training includes the developmental stages of childhood, all parents understand what parenting entails and government and big business stop interfering in the curriculum teachers have their work cut out for them and will continue to leave in droves, battered and bruised! Education needs to undergo a revolution – and involve a bit of magic! (Well all of society does really) 🙂 That’s this mornings free range of thoughts induced by reading your post and a lack of coffee 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Norah Post author

      Pauline, thank you. I love your free range thoughts. And I agree with them, especially about the need for big business to stop interfering in the curriculum. Let teachers teach! I think free range parenting must be similar to the way I was parented (in some aspects only): be back before dark. My mind wasn’t allowed to stray too far though.

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  6. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Such a magical story! And you so grounded in your beliefs, my unfaltering friend. There is nothing sketchy about this post. It’s so true it hurts. I look forward to reading the second article as that question has popped up before. Thanks, Norah.

    Liked by 1 person

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  7. Jennie

    Where do I begin? Your “sketchy” writing about teaching is far from sketchy. It serves to inform and plant the seeds of appropriate education. I found it exciting! Others will, too. Your flash fiction was brilliant and creative. You topped Mary Poppins. Well done, Norah. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. ksbeth

    i loved your sketch and the articles bring up excellent questions. as a teacher, mother, and grandmother, i know the power of early shared reading and encourage it with everyone. wonderful post, norah

    Liked by 1 person

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  9. Annecdotist

    Your flash had me gripped right from the start and then laughing about where it took me. A beautifully sketched scenario and totally unexpected.
    Although I won’t be reading that memoir, I applaud the sentiment and was very moved by your quote she didn’t leave teaching, it left her. I have no idea about the statistics, but it’s my impression that a lot of teachers retire early through mental health issues that probably wouldn’t have had with a different job.
    Although I only skimmed the article, I had to find out whether reading or other factors made the difference. Sensible topic to research.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Norah Post author

      I’m pleased you enjoyed the flash, Anne. I hoped it might work.
      I think your impression of teachers leaving the profession for mental health reasons is quite accurate.
      I think there are so many differences between families that read and families that don’t that it would be difficult to identify just one factor. So much works in conjunction.

      Liked by 1 person

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