Category Archives: Education

Unpacking the Greatest Gift - Comparatively Speaking

Unpacking the greatest gift — comparatively speaking

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge - greatest gift

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes the greatest gift. Answer it as if it were a question, or show what it could be. Go where the prompt leads you!

 

 

 

 

As usual, my mind jumps all over the place trying to find somewhere solid to land.

For example:

Do you remember learning the comparative and superlative at school?

great                    greater                 greatest

But what could be described as the greatest, indeed the greatest gift?

Muhammad Ali had no trouble in declaring that he was the greatest.

And ever since reading Charli’s post, I haven’t been able to get Whitney Houston out of my head.

According to liveaboutdotcom, Whitney Houston“has been cited by the Guinness Book of Records as the most awarded female performer of all time.” It appears that those awards were not enough. Perhaps had she been able to find that love, it would have been her greatest gift

Then there’s a chant I used to hear in the playground. A group of girls would gather and one would call out, “I am the greatest”. Others would respond, “No you’re not.” Then everyone would do a handstand. And so, it would repeat. I think whoever held the handstand the longest was entitled to call, “I am the greatest.” If only it were that easy.

I am the greatest - playground game

If one was to be the greatest at anything, would that be the greatest gift?

I’ve often said that a love of reading is one of the greatest gifts that a parent can give a child.

the love of reading is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child

It is one of the greatest gifts not only for the joy that reading can give, but even more because the ability to read is empowering. It enables one to fully participate in what societies have to offer, to navigate one’s way through our complex environments and seek knowledge for oneself.

If it is but one of the greatest gifts, what are the others, and is there one that is greatest of them all? Is it the gift of life? Of unconditional love? Of being accepted as you are? The most expensive car? The biggest house? The largest inheritance?

Was winning the World Heavyweight Championship the greatest gift for Muhammad Ali? The greatest number of awards wasn’t the greatest gift for Whitney Houston.

I think it’s too difficult to intellectualise. I’ve gone back to the concrete thinking of six-year-olds for my answer.

The Greatest Gift

The class was aflame with a mix of sadness and excitement.

“She’s is leaving.”

“She’s gunna have a baby.”

“I’m gunna bring her a gift.”

“I am too.”

On her final day, the children jostled to give first, hopeful she’d love their gift the best.

“Mine’s bigger than yours.”

“Mine’s better.”

“Mine’s the greatest.”

The children gloated and nudged each other as the teacher opened the gifts.

“How perfect.”

“This is great.”

“Thank you, everyone.”

Finally, Tommy edged forward. His hands were empty. He looked shyly into his teacher’s eyes and whispered, “I’ll miss you, Miss. You’re the best.”

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

The Student Blogging Challenge - How you can be involved

The Student Blogging Challenge — How you can be involved – readilearn

The Student Blogging Challenge is a project that encourages students around the world to create a blog and experience the benefits of publishing online including:

  • developing digital writing skills
  • becoming aware of the possibilities and responsibilities of digital citizenship
  • writing for and developing an authentic audience
  • making connections with others around the world.

Founded in 2008 by Sue Wyatt, who I had the pleasure of meeting up with in Hobart a few years ago, the challenge has been held twice a year since then in March and October. The next Challenge, hosted by Kathleen Morris and Sue Waters, begins on 6 October and runs for eight weeks. A different blogging task is to be completed each week. Students can join in as part of a class group or individually. Participation is free.

Who can be involved?

The challenge is open to students from K–12 around the world. However, organisers suggest that it is most suited to students from 8–16 years.

There are three ways to participate:

As a teacher, you can register your class.

Students can register individually.

As an adult, you can register as a commenter on the student blogs.

I joined in as a commenter for the first time in the March Challenge this year and have this lovely certificate to prove it.

Continue reading: The Student Blogging Challenge — How you can be involved – readilearn

School Days Reminiscences -- Some Data

School Days Reminiscences — Some Data

School days and their impact on our lives has been a major topic of discussion here over the past six months when authors and bloggers have shared their reminiscences. (You can catch up on any reminiscences you missed here.)With no one else quite ready to share just yet, I thought it would be interesting to have a look over some aspects of the reviews.

The first questions I asked were related to where schools had been attended and whether the schools were government, private or independent.

Where did the interviewees attend school?

A total of twelve countries were listed:

  • USA (8)
  • England (7)
  • Canada (3)
  • South Africa (3)
  • India (1)
  • Wales (1)
  • Australia (1)
  • Malaysia (1)
  • Singapore (1)
  • New Zealand (1)
  • Malta (1)
  • Zimbabwe (1)
  • And the British Colony of Hong Kong (1)

Three interviewees attended schools in two or more countries (two attended in three).

This gives us quite an international flavour to the interviews.

Were the schools government, private or independent?

This one is a little more difficult to summarise as the systems seem to be classed differently from country to country. However, the majority of interviewees appear to have attended government schools, with a smattering attending private or independent schools, and some a mixture of both.

Was there an overall favourite subject?

graph - what was your favourite subject

Discussions on the posts indicated that there might have been a trend towards a liking for English and a dislike of physical education and maths. I think the trend away from PE and maths especially may have emerged through the discussions themselves, as when I went back through the posts, it wasn’t so obvious. However, I didn’t specifically ask which subject was most disliked.

English with its related subjects like reading and writing was definitely the overall favourite with eleven listing it as such.

The list of favourites includes:

  • English (11)
  • History (4)
  • Music (2)
  • Geography (2)
  • Social Studies (2)
  • French (1)
  • PE (1)
  • Art (1)
  • Humanities (1)
  • Maths (1)
  • Drama (1)

(Note: If people listed more than one, I may have included it.)

What aspect of school was most disliked?

As I didn’t ask the question about subjects that were disliked, but what was most disliked about school, I received a variety of responses.

PE did figure in the responses of six respondents, but the social aspect of fitting in and making friends, including when changing schools was listed by seven. Subjects such as maths, physics, geography, biology and geometry rated only one mention each. Other dislikes included disruption due to war, rules, long distances to and from school, and being picked out to answer questions. Others said that there was nothing they had disliked about school.

It is interesting that the social aspect of school and physical education ranked so highly. I wonder how much of the dislike for physical education was related to the social aspect of it.

Thank you blog post

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

 

 

What's grit got to do with it flash fiction

What’s Grit Got to Do with It?

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge - true grit

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that shows true grit. You can use the phrase or embody the theme. Who or what has true grit? Go where the prompt leads you!

Grit is a combination of many things including perseverance, determination, resilience, persistence, doggedness. It’s an ability to overcome the small obstacles that litter life’s path without allowing them to overwhelm and prevent a way forward.

Teaching requires grit. Along with the enormous expectations and responsibilities of the role, there are the needs of many little people to be met. Most days teachers cope admirably, but some days can offer a little more challenge.

One of our roles as teachers is to help children develop grit, to have a go, persevere, be persistent and resilient. In any class, there will be children with varying degrees of grit. There will be those who are just a little more needy, requiring a little more encouragement and support. Most days they might cope admirably, other days may offer a little more challenge.

As John Denver sang, “Some Days are Diamonds. Some Days are Stones.”

Some days may be just a little grittier than others and we might need a whole bucketful of grit to make it through.

A Bucketful of Grit - flash fiction

A Bucketful of Grit

“Miss, Jimmie’s crying.”

“Thanks for letting me know, Susan,” she smiled through gritted teeth.

What now? Couldn’t she just finish her tea for once? Something trivial, no doubt. Better go see, just in case.

She met a small posse escorting Jimmie across the playground. Their imploring eyes begged her sympathy.

“What’s wrong, Jimmie?”

“I, I —”

“He got grit in his eye, Miss.”

“Let’s see. Ah, yes. Better take him to First Aid.”

The children moved off as one, except George. He turned and held out a bucket.

“What’s that?”

“You told Jimmie to find some grit. Here ‘tis!”

Thank you blog post

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

School Days, Reminiscences of the first 25

School Days, Reminiscences — the first 25

Every Sunday evening for the past twenty-five weeks, I have been sharing the school reminiscences of members of my blogging community. As well as being a way of thanking them for their support, it was a way to get to know them a little better and of letting you know about their services and publications.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the conversations that have developed around each individual’s reminiscences and I think, it is fair to say, we have learned much from each other. It is pleasing to see that new friendships have formed and the interest in each others’ work has grown.

I thought this was a good time to pause and reflect on the journeys of those we’ve met so far. If you haven’t yet and would like to join in by sharing your school days reminiscences, please let me know in the comments and I’ll send you the questions.

If you missed reading any of the first 25 reminiscences, click on the photos to check them out. The interviews contain links to the writers’ blogs, website and/or publications. Enjoy!

Charli Mills reminiscences about school days

School Days reminiscences of Sally Cronin

School Days Reminiscences of Anne Goodwin

Geoff Le Pard's reminiscences of school days

school days reminiscences of Hugh Roberts

school days reminiscences of Debby Gies

Pauline King reminiscences of school days

School days, reminiscences of JulesPaige

School Days Reminiscences of D. Avery

School Days Reminiscences of Christy Birmingham

School days reminiscences of Miriam Hurdle

School Days Reminiscences of Robbie Cheadle

School Days Reminiscences of Marsha Ingrao

School Days Reminiscences of Ritu Bhathal

School Days, Reminiscences of Joy Lennick

School Days Reminiscences of Darlene Foster

School days, reminiscences of Susan Scott

School Days Reminiscences of Barbara Vitelli

School Days, Reminiscences of Sherri Matthews

School Days Reminiscences of Mabel Kwong

School Days, Reminiscences of Chelsea Owens

School Days Reminiscences of Carol Taylor

School Days reminiscences of Pamela Wight

School Days Reminiscences of Pete Springer

School Days Reminiscences of Balroop Singh

 

Thank you blog post

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

 

visiting with illustrator Helene Magisson

Visiting with illustrator Hélène Magisson – readilearn

This week I’m visiting with illustrator Helene Magisson to chat about her latest book Sarah’s Two Nativities written by Janine M Fraser and published by Black Dog Books. The book is due for release this month with a launch scheduled for the 21st.

About Helene

I first introduced you to Helene in 2017 when she chatted about her process of illustrating, especially as it related to the beautiful book of poetry Magic Fish Dreaming written by June Perkins. You can read that interview here.

Since the publication of Magic Fish Dreaming, Helene has illustrated a number of other books and now has eleven published books in her portfolio, with more on the way. I am not surprised that Helene is sought after as an illustrator. I think you’d have to agree that her, mainly watercolour, illustrations are exquisite and possess an almost magical quality.

Although Helene now calls Australia home, she has lived in countries all over the world, including Africa, France, and India. That her travels both inspire and enrich her work is obvious in her delightful illustrations that perfectly complement Janine Fraser’s story Sarah’s Two Nativities.

About Sarah’s Two Nativities

From the publisher:

‘Sarah loves her two grandmas – Grandmother Azar and Grandmother Maria. Grandmother Azar tells Sarah stories from the Holy Koran, while Grandmother Maria tells her stories from the Bible. At Christmas time, Sarah snuggles in each of her grandmothers’ laps and listens to two nativities stories about the birth of baby Jesus. They are the same in some ways, and different in others … but both can be Sarah’s favourite.’

Continue reading: Visiting with illustrator Hélène Magisson – readilearn

School Days Reminiscences of Balroop Singh

School Days, Reminiscences of Balroop Singh

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 Balroop Singh, poet, writer, blogger and teacher. On her blog and in her poetry, Balroop speaks deep truths about life, relationships and emotions. Wherever you are, whatever your stage in life, I’m sure you’ll be able to connect with Balroop’s wisdom.

When responding to other interviews in this series, Balroop commented, “I have some interesting memories of school, very different from the ones shared here”. How could I not invite her to join in too? I’m sure that, as you read her interview, you will see not only the differences but the similarities, between Balroop’s school days and those of others.

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

Balroop Singh, a former teacher and an educationalist always had a passion for writing.  She would jot down her reflections on a piece of paper and forget about them till each drawer of her home started overflowing with poetic reminders, popping out at will!

She is a poet, a creative non-fiction writer, a relaxed blogger and a doting grandma. She writes about people, emotions and relationships. Her poetry highlights the fact that happiness is not a destination but a chasm to bury agony, anguish, grief, distress and move on! No sea of solitude is so deep that it can drown us. Sometimes aspirations are trampled upon, the boulders of exploitation and discrimination may block your path but those who tread on undeterred are always successful.

When turbulences hit, when shadows of life darken, when they come like unseen robbers, with muffled exterior, when they threaten to shatter your dreams, it is better to break free rather than get sucked by the vortex of emotions.

A self-published author, she is the poet of Sublime Shadows of Life and  Emerging From Shadows and Timeless Echoes. Her latest release is Moments We Love.

She has also written When Success Eludes, Emotional Truths Of Relationships Read FREE with Kindle Unlimited and Allow Yourself to be a Better Person.

Balroop Singh has always lived through her heart. She is a great nature lover; she loves to watch birds flying home. The sunsets allure her with their varied hues that they lend to the sky. She can spend endless hours listening to the rustling leaves and the sound of waterfalls. The moonlight streaming through her garden, the flowers, the meadows, the butterflies cast a spell on her. She lives in San Ramon, California.

Balroop Singh school days reminiscences

Welcome, Balroop.

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

I attended various schools in India, all of them in my hometown Ludhiana, (Punjab, a state in Northern India.) 

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

In India, private schools are called public schools, which are managed by an organization or an independent authority. I attended both. I was sent to a Government School after 8th grade. It was traumatic for me because the atmosphere and standard was much lower than the Public School I had attended till then but I adjusted quite well and made some loving friends.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

I got a Master’s degree in English from Punjab University. Later on I also got a Bachelor’s degree in Education and became the topper of Punjab University.

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

The first job that I picked up was that of a lecturer in a college. I was proud of myself that I got the first job I had applied for! At that time earning some money for my family was the main inspiration but I was married off soon and I quit this job just after one year to join my husband in New Delhi. After 6 six years of hiatus, I joined a public school and became a high school teacher. 

Balroop Singh school days reminiscences

What is your earliest memory of school?

I must be in Kindergarten or class – 1, the teacher told us to learn a story and narrate it. I was beaten for not learning or failing to recite. The memory is hazy but I remember the cane falling on my legs even today.

What memories do you have of learning to read?

Balroop Singh school days reminiscences 

This one is from the school I liked the best. Language teachers were so kind that I developed a love for reading all the three languages we were taught.

What memories do you have of learning to write?

Balroop Singh school days reminiscences

Good handwriting was nurtured and emphasized upon. Initial lessons were given on slate, which was like a small blackboard. We had to write on a wooden slate, which was washed and plastered everyday with a special material. We used a wooden pen and the ink, which could only be used for a wooden slate. This was done at home everyday.

What do you remember about math classes?

I didn’t like Math class and got punished, probably for talking and disturbing others. Learning multiplication tables was the initial dislike that grew into larger proportions.

What was your favourite subject? 

English. I admired my English teachers and always got the highest marks in this subject, which further boosted my interest. They praised my handwriting and my papers were shown to other students to exemplify neatness. 

What did you like best about school? 

In middle school, I learnt self-discipline, which was taught by the Headmistress in a novice manner. She didn’t believe in corporal punishment. She had her own ways of convincing the students that hard work is a matter of habit.

She had a number of black conical caps, which were placed in one corner of her room. All those students who didn’t do their homework were brought to her room. She didn’t need to say a word! All of them knew they had to wear those caps, one by one and go single file, out of her room. Nobody accompanied these students, they knew that they had to go into each class, hang their head, stand for a minute and go out. Nobody dared to laugh at them! Nobody wished to repeat this act. Every student learnt a lesson after wearing that conical black cap! The magical cap!

You may call this a harsh punishment but it carved a deep impact on the students. At least at me! I could never think of neglecting my homework.

What did you like least about school?  

I didn’t like PE (Physical Education) classes, as no real training was given about sports. I never played any random games, as I was scared of falling and getting hurt!

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

There is a sea change! Schools nurture social and emotional development, respect the students and teach them with the latest techniques. Corporal punishment has been abolished. Creativity, cultural awareness, freedom of expression and sports training is encouraged at all stages of schooling. Public schools compete with each other to produce best academic results. Some schools encourage competitive spirit by placing the top scorers in an ability section.

Balroop Singh school days reminiscences

How do you think schools could be improved?

First, recruitment of qualified teachers who feel inspired to take the responsibility of teaching the next generation is essential. Second, they have to be paid at par with others to attract intellect and talent to this profession. Number of students in a class needs to be reduced and value-based education with flexible curriculum could be helpful for those students who want to pursue higher studies.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Balroop. It’s been wonderful to have you here. Although there may be differences in your school days, there are familiar threads that seem to run through them too. 

Find out more about Balroop Singh on

her blog: Emotional Shadows

her Goodreads author page: Balroop Singh

her Amazon author page: Balroop Singh

Connect with her on social media

Twitter: @BalroopShado

Facebook: Emotional Shadows

Pinterest: Balroop Singh

Balroop Singh school days reminiscences

Purchase your own copy of books by Balroop Singh

From Amazon

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

Ritu Bhathal

Joy Lennick

Darlene Foster

Susan Scott

Barbara Vitelli

Sherri Matthews

Mabel Kwong

Chelsea Owens

Carol Taylor

Pamela Wight

Pete Springer

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

Yvette Prior

Colleen Chesebro

Thank you blog post

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