Author Archives: Norah

About Norah

Early childhood educator and resource developer.

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.

 

teaching apostrophes

Teaching apostrophes with lessons ready to teach – readilearn

Do your children have difficulty spelling contractions or using apostrophes for possession correctly? If so, you are not alone. Many, and not only young children, do.

To support your teaching of this punctuation mark that many find tricky, I have produced an interactive resource that explains, demonstrates and provides practice in its correct use.

I have called the resource Apostrophes Please! to encourage young writers to get their writing right.

About Apostrophes Please!

Apostrophes Please! is an interactive resource, ready for use on the interactive whiteboard. It consists of enough material for a series of lessons teaching the correct use of apostrophes in both contractions and possessive nouns.

Like other readilearn resources, Apostrophes Please! recognises the value of teacher input and the importance of teacher-student discussion. It is not designed for children to use independently. While the activities have interactive features, there are no bells, whistles and gimmicks. It relies simply on effective teaching.

The resource provides flexibility for the teacher to choose activities which are relevant to student needs and teaching focus. All lessons and activities encourage explanation, stimulate discussion and provide opportunities for children to practise, explain and demonstrate what they have learned. There are nineteen interactive slides and over thirty slides in all.

Organisation of Apostrophes Please!

Contractions and possessive nouns are introduced separately.

Continue reading: Teaching apostrophes with lessons ready to teach – readilearn

News Splash

News Splash

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction challenge Splash

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that makes a big splash. It can be fluid, or you can play with the idiom (to make a big splash is to do or say something that becomes unforgettable). Go where the prompt leads!

This is where it finally led me. I hope you enjoy it.

News Splash

It was splashed all over the front page. There was no hiding it now. Mum and Dad wouldn’t be pleased. They’d cautioned her to be careful. Time. After. Time. And she was. She thought she could handle it. She didn’t need them watching over her every move. She had to be independent sometime. But this front-page catastrophe would be a setback. How could she minimise the damage?

When they came in, Jess faced them bravely.

They looked from her to the paper and back. Jess’s lip quivered. “Sorry.”

“Those headlines look somewhat juicy,” smirked Dad. “More juice?”

Jess nodded.

Spilled juice

Thank you blog post

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

School Days Reminiscences of Marsha Ingrao

School Days, Reminiscences of Marsha Ingrao

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 pleased to introduce Marsha Ingrao, author, blogger, teacher. Marsha and I hit it off as soon as we met, somewhere in the blogosphere. I think our shared backgrounds in and beliefs about education helped cement our friendship. I was delighted when Marsha contributed a guest post on readilearn about Writing in the lower primary classroom, a topic we are both passionate about, last year. I was also honoured when she entrusted me with reading a draft of her WIP Girls on Fire, which I’m looking forward to seeing in print one day.

Before we begin the interview, I’ve invited Marsha to tell you a little of herself:

Marsha Ingrao and her books

My career in education spanned twenty-five years, first as a classroom teacher, then as a math consultant for Migrant Education, and finally the County Office of Education in the area of history-social science.

Publications include various poems in anthologies, curriculum written as part of my consultant duties, and two published books, Images of America:  Woodlake by Arcadia Publishing and So You Think You Can Blog? by Lulu Press.

Fiction is still on my bucket list. Two manuscripts I have completed, but not published are:

  • Girls on Fire, a fiction novel about three women in their 50s and 60s who are looking for new love and a change in life.
  • Winning Jenny’s Smile, a middle school fiction about Jenny’s first months in a new school.

For the past seven years, I have sporadically kept three blogs, TC History Gal Productions about local history, Traveling and Blogging Near and Far, and Always Write about hobby blogging, writing and photography. I manage social media for several non-profits and am an active volunteer in Kiwanis. 

Welcome, Marsha.

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

I attended five schools in Indianapolis, Indiana through my junior year of high school, then moved with my mother and brother to Portland, Oregon to finish high school at Madison High. I attended one year of college at Portland State University and finally finished my education with a master’s degree and administrative credential over twenty years and two states later from Fresno Pacific University.

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

Except for the short stint to finish my master’s degree my schooling was all public.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

Master’s Degree

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

My career choices, except for education, were as scattered as my education primarily based on how long it took me to finish my degree and my financial constraints in finishing. My mother taught school, and that was my eventual goal as well.

What is your earliest memory of school?

Kindergarten was my first experience at school. My grandmother and mother had already taught me most of the things they teach now in kindergarten, but we played in school and having such wonderful play setups and being with so many children was new to me.

What memories do you have of learning to read?

I remember Dr. Seuss and Dick and Jane. We did not learn phonetically at first that I remember, but somewhere along the line, someone introduced phonetics. By that time, I read voraciously.

What memories do you have of learning to write?

Marsha Ingrao on writing

Learning to write pained me. I couldn’t see well and probably was dyslexic with a graphic disability, so I didn’t learn to write in cursive, which was wildly important in those days, until I reached the fourth grade. I remember my third-grade teacher took my new fountain pen away because I couldn’t write. Grrr

My fifth-grade teacher praised my poetry and my father called me Hemist Earningway. I entered writing contests in magazines. Sadly, they responded that I was too young to show any promising talent. That squelched my professional writing career.

What do you remember about math classes?

I skipped half of second grade, so my mother prepared me over the summer by teaching me multiplication. When I started third grade, we had timed tests in subtraction. I was number one in music memory tests, but a failure at subtraction timed tests. My father was a design engineer and tried to teach me to use a slide rule when I started algebra in ninth grade. I did not do well in either algebra or learning from my father. Geometry was a bust, but I enjoyed and did well in math after the first two years of high school. I also got contact lenses.

What was your favourite subject?

Marsha Ingrao enjoyed learning about the States and other countries

I liked to research, not that I was thorough compared to the kinds of research students can do today. In fifth and sixth grades we did reports on states and countries. Those were my favorite assignments in grade school. I loved the mathematics of grammar and for some strange reason loved diagramming sentences in junior high school. English was my favorite subject. That’s when I joined the journalism club.

What did you like best about school?

Marsha Ingrao liked music and art classes best at school

I loved music and art classes and was thrilled to learn techniques to draw because seeing something and trying to recreate it on paper baffled my brain as much as using a slide rule. I adored reading but hated giving oral book reports.

What did you like least about school?

The bus ride to get there took forty-five minutes when we moved to the suburbs. It wasted time and eliminated after school commitments since my mother didn’t drive until I was in junior high or high school.

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

This is a great question, Norah. The biggest changes, I think, have been instigated by the Civil Rights movement and technology. The opportunities afforded by computers and the internet for research and to write without constraints of visual or mechanical handicaps are like carrying water during a hike in the desert. The emphasis on equity and collaboration rather than competition prepares students for a working environment. Students in our community receive Chromebooks and free internet they can use at home. When we attended school, public schools didn’t even furnish paper, pens, and pencils. Buying a fountain pen was a third-grade status symbol.

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

In spite of what the public say about schools, the graduating students I interview have so many opportunities to succeed and far exceed my expectations of what a graduate should be able to do. They have so many choices both in and out of school. Boys and girls can participate equally in sports, theatre, mock trials, history, math, reading, writing, and science competitions. There are academies set up for agriculture, science, math, or the arts where students can specialize if they choose. Our schools also add the requirement of community service.

How do you think schools could be improved?

Marsha Ingrao says how schools could be improved

These questions made me think about how much schools have improved. We complain that kids can’t write, and indeed, texting has changed the way kids think. Capitalizing the word I is not important to them but is to educators. Communicating quickly is something kids have taken to a new level. What they don’t know how to do is think beyond the immediate. Just because they can communicate doesn’t mean that they do it well. Schools need to challenge students to step back to imagine the bigger picture and consider the consequences of their actions. This is why teaching social studies and humanities is essential.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Marsha. It’s been wonderful to have you here. I learned so much I didn’t already know about you. I especially love that your father called you Hemist Earningway and hope that writing is an earning way for you. However, I am very disappointed in the response of magazines that had such a negative impact on your ambitions and potential.

Find out more about Marsha Ingrao on her blogs

TC History Gal Productions

Traveling and Blogging Near and Far

 Always Write

Connect with her on social media

FB Page

Twitter: @MarshaIngrao

Pinterest

Instagram

Purchase a copy of Images of America:  Woodlake by Arcadia Publishing

or receive a free copy of So You Think You Can Blog? by Lulu Press.

 

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

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

Ritu Bhathal

Joy Lennick

Darlene Foster

Susan Scott

Mabel Kwong

Sherri Matthews

Chelsea Owens

Pete Springer

with more to follow.

Thank you blog post

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

 

 

 

Interview with Anne Donnelly author illustrator of Ori's Clean-Up

Interview with Anne Donnelly, author-illustrator – readilearn

With tomorrow 8 June World Oceans Day and World Environment Day just a few days ago on 5 June, there is no better time than now to introduce you to Anne Donnelly and her delightful picture book Ori’s Clean-up.

The aim of World Oceans Day is to celebrate, protect and conserve the world’s oceans. The 2019 theme Together we can protect and restore our ocean focuses on preventing plastic pollution.  With its environmental theme incorporating recycling and re-using, Anne’s book is a perfect fit.

About Anne Donnelly

Anne lives in Sydney with her husband, her two children and their new puppy that chews everything! She loves to be creative in all sorts of ways. She loves to read, write, craft and is a very animated storyteller. As a little girl, she used to draw on the underside of the kitchen table and all the way up the stairs, on each step, much to her parent’s shock.

She has released three books in the Ori Octopus series; Ori the Octopus and Ori’s Christmas in 2017. And now she is especially excited about her latest book Ori’s Clean-Up as it combines two of her passions; children’s literacy and care of our environment. This book has been endorsed by Clean Up Australia and is being stocked at various zoos, national parks, museums, visitor centres, aquariums and holiday destinations all over the country.

About Ori’s Clean-Up

Ori the Octopus and his friends have left their rubbish everywhere. They tidy up, but it doesn’t work. To keep their home clean and healthy, they need to do something different, something better.

The Interview

 Hi, Anne. Welcome to readilearn.

 Thanks for inviting me.

Anne, you tell your stories with words and pictures. When did you know you wanted to be a storyteller and share your stories with others?

Continue reading: Interview with Anne Donnelly, author-illustrator – readilearn

Would you like strawberries with that

Would you like strawberries with that?

Tomorrow, 5 June is World Environment Day. The theme for this year is Air Pollution. According to the World Environment Day website, nine out of ten people breathe polluted air — a frightening statistic. While the most polluted cities may be far from where we live and the effect of our individual actions may seem negligible, the site recommends ways in which we can help reduce air pollution. I’m sure you already do many of these:

  • Use public transport or car sharing, cycle or walk
  • Switch to a hybrid or electric vehicle and request electric taxis
  • Turn off the car engine when stationary
  • Reduce your consumption of meat and dairy to help cut methane emissions
  • Compost organic food items and recycle non-organic trash
  • Switch to high-efficiency home heating systems and equipment
  • Save energy: turn off lights and electronics when not in use
  • Choose non-toxic paints and furnishings

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge strawberries and mint

While not specific to this year’s theme, I thought the flash fiction prompt set by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch this week was a perfect match for World Environment Day. Charli challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes strawberries and mint. The combination evokes color contrast, scents, and taste. Where will the combination take you? Go where the prompt leads!

Growing plants, particularly those that produce edible delicacies, including strawberries and mint, is a great way of introducing children to the importance of caring for the environment. Both strawberries and mint are easy to grow and require little space.

The rewards are not only in the eating. Children can learn where their food comes from and understand that it doesn’t just appear in plastic packaging on supermarket shelves or in the fridge at home. In caring for a garden, they learn about what plants need and the importance of caring for the soil. They learn to be patient, waiting for the plants to grow and to be ready to harvest. Understandings learned from small-scale gardening, even in a pot, can be applied to caring for the environment on a larger scale. It is never too soon, or too late, to learn.

In my response to Charli’s prompt, I have considered gardening as nourishment for the mind and spirit as well as the body. Because strawberries are a favourite with both my grandchildren who would probably eat strawberries anywhere and anytime, I settled on a story featuring a grandmother and grandchild. Any similarity to this grandmother is non-existent. I hope you enjoy it anyway.

(I included some favourite family strawberry desserts in this post.)

Grandma’s Garden

Jess blew kisses to Mum, then raced Grandma into the garden. She pulled on her boots and gloves and readied her digging fork. Emulating Grandma, she soaked up explanations of magic combinations that helped plants grow. At the strawberry patch, they filled baskets with ripe red berries. On the way inside, Grandma clipped sprigs of mint.

They dipped strawberries in chocolate and garnished them with mint.

“For Jess?”

“For Mum.

“Birfday?”

“Just —”

Jess inspected the chocolate bowl. “All gone.”

“Stawbwee?” said Jess, pointing to the remaining few.

“For Jess,” smiled Grandma.

Jess munched strawberries and Grandma chewed mint.

Thank you blog post

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

 

 

School Days Reminiscences of Robbie Cheadle

School Days, Reminiscences of Robbie Cheadle

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 pleased to introduce Robbie Cheadle, author, poet and blogger. I’m not sure when or where I first met Robbie, but I know was captivated by her delightfully unique Sir Chocolate series of picture books which she illustrates with amazing fondant figurines. I was also intrigued to know that these books were jointly written with her and her son Michael, starting from when he was ten years old. There are now six books in the Sir Chocolate series and, since then, Robbie has published a memoir of her mother’s war-time childhood, co-written a book of poems, and had others of her poems and short stories featured in anthologies.

Robbie Cheadle and her books

Before we begin the interview, I asked Robbie to tell you a little of herself:

Robbie, short for Roberta, is an author with six published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with her son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about her mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with her mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of Robbie’s children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications. 

Robbie has recently branched into adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential her children’s books from her adult writing, these will be published under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. Robbie has two short stories in the horror/supernatural genre included in Dark Visions, a collection of 34 short stories by 27 different authors and edited by award winning author, Dan Alatorre. These short stories are published under Robbie Cheadle.

Robbie has also recently published a poetry collection, Open a new door, together with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

Welcome, Robbie.

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

I went to fourteen different schools as we moved around a lot. My first school was Craighall Convent in Johannesburg. The school I learned the most at was a bilingual school in George in the Western Cape. I was only there for six weeks but I learned the basics of Afrikaans (second language in South Africa) which I had missed out on before.

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

I attended a mixture of schools. I attended a couple of private schools when I was in primary school including two convents. I went to public schools when we lived in George for the first time and when we lived in Cape Town. I attended a public high school in Johannesburg.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

I have a degree and an honours degree in Accounting as well as my board examinations to become a chartered accountant. I was keen to do an economics degree a few years ago when I wrote my publications on direct foreign investment into Africa but I couldn’t find anything suitable. I reverted to self-study and analysis instead and this research is in my publications.

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

Immediately after school I went to a secretarial college for a year where I learned typing, shorthand and the other skills of a professional secretary. I then worked for a few years and saved money which I used to pay for some of my university education. I attended a correspondence university and worked shifts in a video shop to earn money while I did my first degree. I applied for, and was accepted, for an internship at KPMG in Johannesburg when I finished my degree. KPMG paid for my studies for my honours degree and I studied part time in the evenings and during public holidays and weekends. It was hard but I managed to do it and I passed all my examinations first time around, even my honours degree where I had to pass all nine examinations in one sitting.

What is your earliest memory of school?

Robbie Cheadle as a school girl in the news

I remember having my photograph taken for the national newspaper on the first day of school. My friend’s father was a photographer for the newspaper and he used me as his “First day of school” photograph that year.

I also remember being left out when the girls (aged 7 years old) when to mass and practiced for their first Holy Communion. I recall being sad that I didn’t have a long white dress and candle. I only took my Holy Communion when I was 12 years old and we were living in George.

What memories do you have of learning to read?

I remember being fascinated with books and reading. I can recall sounding out the words by myself and the triumph of reading Little Bear all by myself. Once I got the hang of reading, I just went from strength to strength. I got books for every birthday and Christmas and belonged to the library. When I was 9 years old and we lived in Cape Town, I used to cycle to the library twice a week and take out 7 books at a time to read (4 library cards were mine and 3 were my sister, Cath’s, but she let me use them.)

What memories do you have of learning to write?

I remember writing my name in my books and I always inverted by b’s, d’s and p’s. I had a bit of remedial help and this was corrected when I was 8 years old. My old books still have the inscription Roderta Eaton.

What do you remember about math classes?

I have very little memory of maths class other than I was able to do reasonably well without much effort which left me lots of time to read. I remember my high school maths teacher writing a remark on my report that said: “Generally speaking, Robbie is generally speaking.” I have always remembered that comment. I had one teacher that told my mom that I had layers like an onion which you needed to peel back to find the real me. My mother was also told by a teacher that I practiced “silent insubordination.”

Robbie Cheadle discusses what she liked best about school

What was your favourite subject?

I enjoyed English firstly and then History. Accounting and Maths were both relatively easy for me and I hated Afrikaans with a passion. My second ever Afrikaans teacher embarrassed me in front of the whole class and I would never bother with learning this language after that.

What did you like best about school?

I have two lovely memories of school, one, was creating a play with my friends to perform for the class when I was 8 years old. I loved organizing the cast and teaching them their roles. I have always enjoyed project management and organizing. The other memory I cherish was being chosen to be Mary in the Nativity Play when I was 12-years old. I was simply thrilled.

What did you like least about school?

I can’t think of anything I really didn’t like about school; it just was something I did every day for 12 years. I have always been a loner and would always chose books over people. We moved a lot, so I learned not to get too close to other children, it was easier to uproot myself that way. I am still quite good at accepting change and I don’t retain long-term physical friendships. I prefer my virtual friends who are constant and always there.

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

Unfortunately, the quality of the public education in South Africa for underprivileged children has not improved much since 1994. Lots of children start learning English late in their school career (at the age of 10 or 11 years old) and it is difficult for them to cope with being taught in English.

There is still a huge shortage of school basics in many rural schools and children are still being taught under trees and in classes with few desks and chairs and even fewer learning materials. There are often no proper toilets for the children to use.

I belong to charities which donate books and stationery to underprivileged schools. A lot is done to help by the private business sector and individuals.

My sons both attend private schools and the college my older son attends is exemplary in its out-reach programme. It supports a disadvantaged college in a rural area and has a programme to train teachers from disadvantaged backgrounds. It also has a programme to help disadvantaged children with potential to achieve at school. This is run in the afternoons and the teaching staff freely give of the own time and skills. It is a sad that the public education is poor because our world is evolving into one where higher-level skills are becoming vital to get and retain jobs. English and maths skills are essential.

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

I can only answer this question from the point of view of my own sons. Both of their schools have outcomes-based education programmes and this works so well. Their curriculums are marvelous and I often find myself thinking how much I would have enjoyed their schooling when I was a girl. My older son’s school has programmes to give accelerated learning opportunities to boys who find learning easier and support programmes for boys that find some areas of learning more difficult. They just do such wonderful things, read fantastic books and have marvelous learning opportunities. Of course, as with all things in life, you have to grasp opportunities or else they pass you by.

How do you think schools could be improved?

The most important thing in our government schools is to get good teachers. Teachers that aren’t masters in their subject will struggle to teach others, particularly, children that can’t learn in one specific way but need the information presented in another way. The children also need a safe learning environment, which often isn’t the case, and basic learning materials.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Robbie. It was interesting to hear the comparisons between your own schooling and that of your son’s current schooling. I was interested to hear your response to learning Afrikaans and was surprised at how late English was taught. The photographs of you from the newspaper are very cute and to be treasured.

Find out more about Robbie Cheadle on her blogs

Bake and Write

Robbie’s inspiration

And her Goodreads author page:

 

Connect with her on social media

Facebook @SirChocolateBooks

Roberta Writes

Twitter @bakeandwrite

@robertaeaton17

Robbie’s books can be purchased from

Amazon

Or

TSL Publications

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

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

Coming soon:

Marsha Ingrao

Ritu Bhathal

Joy Lennick

Susan Scott

Mabel Kwong

Sherri Matthews

Chelsea Owens

Pete Springer

with more to follow.

Thank you blog post

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