School Days Reminiscences of Ritu Bhathal

School Days, Reminiscences of Ritu Bhathal

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications.

This week, I am delighted to introduce Ritu Bhathal, author, poet, blogger, teacher. Ritu and I follow a similar group of bloggers. We seem to pop up alongside each other, commenting on a number of blogs and writing flash fiction at the Carrot Ranch where Ritu’s contribution is often poetic. I think that we are both teachers, have a love of children and learning, and similar views about education draws us together. Ritu decided she wanted to be a teacher at an even younger age than I did. Teaching (and writing) was our destiny. If you haven’t yet met Ritu, I’m sure you’ll be pleased to do so now.

Ritu Bhathal and her book of poetry

Before we begin the interview, I’ll allow Ritu to tell you a little of herself:

Ritu Bhathal was born in Birmingham in the mid-1970’s to migrant parents, hailing from Kenya but with Indian origin. This colourful background has been a constant source of inspiration to her.
From childhood, she always enjoyed reading. This love of books is mostly credited to her mother.
The joy of reading spurred her on to become creative in her own writing, from fiction to poetry.
Winning little writing competitions at school and locally gave her the encouragement to continue writing.
As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and teacher, she has drawn on inspiration from many avenues to create the poems that she writes.
A qualified teacher, having studied at Kingston University, she now deals with classes of children as a sideline to her writing!
Ritu also writes a blog, a mixture of life and creativity, thoughts and opinions, which was awarded first place in the Best Overall Blog Category at the 2017 Annual Bloggers Bash Awards.
Ritu is happily married, and living in Kent, with her Hubby Dearest, and two children, not forgetting the furbaby Sonu Singh.
Having published an anthology of poetry, Poetic RITUals, she is currently working on some short stories, and a novel, to be published in the near future.

Welcome, Ritu.

Let’s talk school. First, could you tell us where you attended school?

I went to school in Solihull, Birmingham, in the UK.

Ritu Bhathal's first school

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

The school I attended from 3 all the way to 17 was an Independent private girls’ school.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

I completed my B/Ed (Hons) English & Drama (3-7 years) degree at Kingston University in Surrey, UK.

What work or profession did you choose after school and was there anything in school that influenced this choice?

Ritu Bhathal decides to be a teacher

My degree shows what my intention was – to teach. I ended up in retail, a bank and then a marketing company, before finally getting to the job I always felt I was created to do. The reason I decided teaching was my vocation was because of the head girl at our school, Jo Duck, when I was 7. She came to our class to do work experience, and that was when it clicked that teaching was a job, something I could choose to do!

What is your earliest memory of school?

Ritu Bhathal discusses starting school

My earliest memory is the classroom where I first started school, in Miss Wilson’s class, as a 3-year-old. It was a huge room, filled with so many activities, books and toys, and a lot of love. I distinctly remember this beautiful wooden playhouse that was our home corner, and that we all had a bit of a ‘thing’ that something creepy lived behind it. Obviously, all that was behind it was a wall, but at 3, your imagination can play games! And the fact that I spoke no English when I started, apart from Hello! Apparently, I learned quickly, and within a week, my mum says my pidgin English would sail through the air at home, as my Punjabi faded away… And I haven’t stopped speaking it since! But never fear, I haven’t forgotten my mother tongue!

What memories do you have of learning to read? 

I can always remember having school reading books to take home, and the series that always stays in my mind involved a griffin and some pirates! Books were always key in my life. My mother is also a keen reader and her passion rubbed off on me. My first set of books were the original Noddy series by Enid Blyton, which I was given at 4, after having my tonsils out. I still have them.

What memories do you have of learning to write?

I don’t know when I specifically learned to write, but the whole process involved lots of fine motor activities, and I know I had crayons and paper from a very young age. I was proud of being able to master my full name, Ratinder!

What do you remember about math classes?

Maths as a subject, is not my favourite. I used to say I can’t do maths, but that’s not very growth mindset, so to this day in my forties, I say “I cannot do maths, yet!” My biggest memory of maths, aside from the squared paper in the books was a male maths teacher joining our school, and not being able to cope with the chattering that happened in this fully female class!

What was your favourite subject?

English and Drama were my favourite subjects, for obvious reasons! Reading and writing was always a pleasure, never a chore, and acting, oh, I loved to create personas that were totally unlike the real me.

What did you like best about school?

Ritu Bhathal discusses her well-rounded education

Honestly, I can’t pinpoint one thing. I feel blessed that I had a really positive experience at my school, and I feel proud to say that I left with friends for life and a wholly rounded education.

What did you like least about school?

P.E.! I am not a physically motivated person, and though I didn’t mind games lessons, they were definitely not my favourite!

How do you think schools have changed since your school days?

Ritu Bhathal discusses schooling

There has been a huge change in education and schools since I attended. Being a part of the education system as a professional, I feel I can say that. A lot of standardised testing from a young age has put additional pressure on children, and I really think that this pressure is what ends up creating the angry teens we seem to have more of nowadays. Teachers try so hard to make school fun, but the tick boxes we have to adhere to, really strip the enjoyment for us as well as the children.

What do you think schools (in general) do well?

That is a really hard question because I don’t think there is a blanket answer. Some schools are better than others at giving children a rounded experience of life. Some are more concerned with tests and results.

How do you think schools could be improved?

I think this answer doesn’t lie with the schools, but with the government. They really need to learn from the Scandinavian Education system, where the emphasis is on learning through play for the first few years, and formal schooling that starts at 7, when a child is more ready to learn in a classroom environment. And scrap the SATS! I speak from experience here as I have seen both my children go through the SATS and the upset it caused them at 7 and 11. In Finland, where my brother is bringing his family up, my nephew is 4 and the age of children I teach. What he can do at that age, in more than one language, astounds me, from his general knowledge, motor skills, numeracy and literacy! UK – please take note!

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and your professional perspective on education as it is now, Ritu. I’m not surprised to hear that English and Drama were your favourite subjects and I applaud your recommendation to the UK Education Department. We need our Australian Government to take note too.

Find out more about Ritu Bhathal

Website: http://www.butismileanyway.com

Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/56854412-ritu-bhathal

Or connect with her on social media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RituBhathal
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ritubhathalwrites/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/butismileanyway/
Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/bhathalpadhaal/
Mix: https://mix.com/butismileanyway
Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/ritusmiles

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ritu-bhathal-48941648/
Bloglovin: https://www.bloglovin.com/@ritubhathalpadhaal

 

Poetic Rituals by Ritu Bhathal

Purchase your own copy of Poetic RITUals via this link

myBook.to/PoeticRITUals

If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here:

Charli Mills

Sally Cronin

Anne Goodwin

Geoff Le Pard

Hugh Roberts

Debby Gies

Pauline King

JulesPaige

D. Avery

Christy Birmingham

Miriam Hurdle

Robbie Cheadle

Marsha Ingrao

Look for future interviews in this series to be posted on Sunday evenings AEST.
Coming soon:

Joy Lennick

Darlene Foster

Susan Scott

Mabel Kwong

Sherri Matthews

Chelsea Owens

Pete Springer

Colleen Chesebro

with more to follow.

Thank you blog post

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

 

134 thoughts on “School Days, Reminiscences of Ritu Bhathal

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  12. Ritu

    Yet is the most important word to feed to our learners. Yes, they might not know it, but they don’t know it YET. They can and they will get there! 💜

    Like

    Reply
  13. roughwighting

    This is so much fun, Ritu and Norah. I think our experiences with school and learning as a child influences us greatly for the rest of our life. You obviously had good experiences Ritu. Also, being taught by good teachers helps build good teachers.
    Except for PE – I’m with you – not my favorite “subject.” 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks, Pam. I’m pleased you enjoyed Ritu’s interview as much as I did. Isn’t it great to hear everyone’s experiences. I think a few of us are in agreement about PE. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  14. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    So agree we expect children to start formal lessons far too early in the UK. With some kids might be ready to read at four others aren’t until six, seven or eight. If they’re pushed, all they learn is that failure hurts.
    You look so cute in your school uniform but what I’d like to know is whether you’ve ever mastered the Gurmukhi script? I learned to write my name and a few other words but long forgotten!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Failure does hurt, Anne, and it is so sad to see children labelled as such, just because their learning journey differs from the ‘norm’ (expectations). While an overdose of praise and unearned awards may not be a good thing, a ‘yet’ mindset wins over failure any day in my books.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  15. kevin cooper

    Lovely interview, Nora. Nice to get acquainted, Ritu. People seldom get the chance to enter the profession for which they study these days. So no huge surprise that you started in the retail sector.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
      1. kevin cooper

        Absolutely. It’s a worthwhile vocation that is both very challenging and very rewarding. Good teachers are few and hard to come by these days. We need teachers who are truly passionate about teaching and care about the students under their tutelage. The rewards that come from seeing a child light up when they learn something new or upon the realisation of a personal achievement far outcry that of some other professions.

        Liked by 2 people

        Reply
        1. Ritu

          Exact why I teach. Seeing a child independently read a word for the first time, or write their name unaided. Watching their faces as they realise they solved a problem, by themselves, because they understood what we had taught… It’s priceless.

          Liked by 2 people

          Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      It is fascinating, Jacqui. I’m enjoying getting to know everyone. It is wonderful to hear their thoughts about school and learning. I’m pleased you are enjoying it too.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
    1. Ritu

      Hi Chelsea!
      Its not an easy task, and sometimes the teachers get the flack for decisions made higher…
      We know a child’s capability. And it pains us to see children struggle.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
    2. Norah Post author

      People and learners are complex. Sometimes it’s difficult to know just which boxes to tick. However, I don’t think that a focus on testing and test scores is the best thing – for anyone.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
      1. Chelsea Owens

        I agree! I think a more organic approach to different learning styles would be ideal, but probably not feasible. I know the testing gives higher-ups some way to gauge results ..but they are so inaccurate.

        Liked by 2 people

        Reply
  16. OIKOS™-Publishing

    What another great school reminiscence. The earlier/ first school building looks like from a fairy tale. As i read till now, mothers always influence more for engaged reading. 😉 Thank you for this wonderful story, Norah and Ritu! Best wishes, Michael

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
  17. thecontentedcrafter

    It’s lovely to hear from you Ritu in this engaging series. I love your positivity – it shines in everything you have written here. Isn’t it interesting that so many educators are saying (to anyone who will listen) let’s look to Scandinavian schools and emulate them……. If only our voices were heard!! There’s a review going on here – or will go on once the teachers are acknowledged as being underpaid and overworked and over legislated – that will maybe begin a reversal of the last forty years of state interference in education…….. Maybe the Global Educational Revolution has begun 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Hi Pauline, Thanks for your wonderful comment. I heard Jacinda Adern on TV talking about getting rid of the tests in New Zealand. I applauded so loudly, I’m sure you heard the clapping over there.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  18. Jennie

    I found myself nodding is agreement and enjoyment all the way through this wonderful interview. Thank you, Norah. And, thank you, Ritu. A positive schooling experience is essential to learning and growing. Scrap the standardized tests, and make Finland the role model for education.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
  19. petespringerauthor

    I’m with you on standardized testing, Ritu. I taught thirty-one years, and this was my least favorite part of the job. I worked for many administrators who tried to portray themselves as educating the whole child. This would be nice if it were true. The reality was there was so much pressure to raise our test scores. Stressed out teachers unintentionally pass on this angst to students.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Ritu

      Yes, Pete, you are so right there!
      I’m glad Ofsted here, who come and inspect the schools, have decided that they want to be less data, and more teaching driven now. They want to see that a rounded education is being given to children, rather than just a machine where you are feeding test after test to the children so they poop out the correct scores!

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
    2. Norah Post author

      And I’m with you, Pete. While we need to ensure the children make progress, there needs to be a balance, and I’d always put the children’s needs first.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  20. Darlene

    A wonderful interview. It is always great to hear from a current teacher’s perspective. The children that have you as a teacher are very lucky indeed. It sounds like you attended a very good school and I think it’s so funny that the male teacher was overwhelmed by the girls’ chatter. I’m with you on PE, or PT as we called it many years ago in Canada. I used to ask if I could read a book instead.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Ritu

      Thank you Darlene. I think there are a lot of negative experiences portrayed, about teaching nowadays, and it’s, by no means, easy, but such a rewarding job, if you look at it in the right way 💜

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
    2. Norah Post author

      Hi, Darlene. Thanks for reading and commenting. I enjoyed reading Ritu’s perspectives as both student and teacher too. I think our school experiences influence us as teachers. I also find that learning about the experiences of others also contributes, or would, if I was still in the classroom. I would always choose a book over PE too!!

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  21. calmkate

    Interesting to know more about you Ritu and love the play on your name in your book title 🙂
    Glad you kept your mother tongue, us aussies are not good at having a second language!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
  22. joylennick

    Thanks, Norah. Ritu’s expressive, lively nature comes through, whatever she does. I too would love to have had her as my teacher when young She seems to have endless patience, talent and enthusiasm, surely ‘musts’ for teachers. All credit to her. Hugs x

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      It was my pleasure, Ritu. Thank you for joining in the conversation about education. As it is for you, education is my life and I love hearing of everyone else’s experiences. 💖

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  23. Hugh's Views and News

    What a lovely positive interview. I’ve met Ritu a few times over the last few years and I only wish she had been a teacher when I was at school because I would have really enjoyed being in her class. I’m sure the children she teaches see school as a fun place to learn about the things in life important to them. As somebody who radiates her live of teaching, Ritu is a wonderful example to us all of what teaching is about.
    I love the story of something creepy being behind the wooden toy house. That’s a great idea for a story, Ritu.
    Thank you for featuring Ritu in this great series, Norah.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Ritu

      Good to give you more story inspiration Hugh!
      Thank you so much for reading, and appreciating.
      You know I love my day job!
      I think I would have enjoyed a little Hugh in my class! 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
    2. Norah Post author

      Thank you for reading and sharing your wonderful praise of Ritu, Hugh. I agree with you totally. I also agree with you about the creepy wooden toy house. I think it has the makings of a great story.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply

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