Category Archives: Traditional schooling

School Days Reminiscences of Pete Springer

School Days, Reminiscences of Pete Springer

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 Pete Springer, teacher, author and blogger. Pete joined in these conversations about school days right from the beginning. Like me, he is a passionate educator and has spent many years in the classroom changing lives.

Although he is no longer in the classroom, his passion for education remains strong. He has established a Facebook page to support teachers and has written a book sharing his experience as a teacher with the intention of supporting other teachers, especially those just starting their journey.

He titled his book They Call Me Mom. What a fabulous title. As a teacher, I was called Mum (or even Dad, sometimes) many times. I always considered it a lovely testimony to our respectful relationship. As a parent, I was also sometimes called Mrs x and was just as honoured. I’m sure that, as you read through Pete’s bio and interview, you will be impressed by his ongoing contribution to education and our world.

But, before we get into Pete’s interview, I’ll allow him to tell you a little of himself:

I taught elementary school (grades 2-6) for thirty-one years in California.  I loved everything about being a teacher.  I loved my students as if they were my own, and I follow their progress today even though I’ve been retired for three years. I’ve been invited to many extracurricular events (I tried to attend one each for all of my students during the year), birthday, graduations, weddings, and even a housewarming party.  One of my funniest memories was being invited (I obviously didn’t go) to a sleepover party thrown by one of my second graders.

I don’t like to make a big deal about it, but I was chosen for the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2006. This award is presented annually to ten of the top teachers in the County each year.

My favorite thing to do in school on a daily basis was to read to kids, and I decided that if I ever got the opportunity that I would try writing books for children when I retired.  I got sidetracked by another project first.  I decided to write a combination memoir/advice book, They Call Me Mom for future teachers.  The title of the book was inspired by the fact that elementary children consistently refer to their teachers as mom (by accident).  I took this as the ultimate compliment because moms are pretty great! I have spoken to college students at my alma mater, Humboldt St. who are studying to become teachers.  I was most touched when one of my former Superintendents purchased my book for all of the new teachers in his district. 

I am now following my dream and attempting to write books for middle grades that deal with the issues that kids deal with at home and at school.  I’ve joined a critique group (one of the members is my former principal, Nancy Wheeler, who is one of my biggest role models in education serving as one of my master teachers and then as my principal.  (She is 81 and still volunteers in schools, and I couldn’t have a better role model.) My wife, Debbie, was also a career educator, serving as a preschool teacher and then Director.

In addition, as an advocate for literacy, I joined the Humboldt County Author’s Festival Committee which brings twenty-five children’s authors from across the country to our local schools biennially.  (I someday would love to be one of the presenters.)  I also volunteer for an organization called the Society for the Blind.  This organization helps people who are visually impaired. Once a week I read our local newspaper and send in the articles (using voice memos on my cellphone) where they can be accessed by those who are blind or have low vision. 

Having been a master teacher for four student teachers, I try to always be an advocate for education, children, and teachers.  I started a Facebook group about eighteen months ago called Supporters of Teachers to highlight positive things that are happening in education. 

They Call Me Mom by Pete Springer

Welcome, Pete.

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

I attended school for thirteen years (K-12) in the United States.  I then attended Humboldt St. (California) where I graduated and went on to earn my teaching credential.

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

All of the school I attended were government (public) schools.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

The highest level of education I achieved was a Bachelor’s Degree from Humboldt St.

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

I come from a family of teachers, but I think school also influenced my career path because I was inspired by some of the teachers I had. I never planned on becoming a teacher, but I fell into an education job as a one on one aid to a boy who had muscular dystrophy.  I fell in love with working with children from that moment on.

What is your earliest memory of school?

My earliest memory of school was attending preschool.  One of the other kids in the class ate a purple crayon and threw it up a few minutes later.  The poor teacher had to deal with the mess.

What memories do you have of learning to read?

What do you remember of learning to read, Pete Springer

I remember loving to read from an early age.  I was read to a lot when I was a child, and I developed an appreciation for books then. I remember reading all of the books in the Hardy Boys series when I was in elementary school.  One of my favorite things to do as a dad was to read with my own son who has gone on to earn his Master’s Degree in education. I still read every night before I go to bed.  John Grisham is my favorite author.

What memories do you have of learning to write?

I recall writing stories at a young age.  When I got to high school I became much more self-conscious about having my work read aloud.  When I became a teacher, I often wrote plays that my class and I performed.

What do you remember about math classes?

Math came easy to me.  I was always good with numbers and teachers were very impressed with my mental math abilities.  Math was such an intuitive concept to me—I loved it until geometry reared its ugly head.

What was your favourite subject?

What was your favourite subject, Pete Springer

I liked pretty much all subjects, but I would say math because It made me feel smart.

What did you like best about school?

I liked the elementary and middle school years because I had a lot of friends.  High school was my least favorite time. I would say that college was my happiest time because I could be myself, and I liked the opportunity for free thinking.

What did you like least about school?

My least favorite thing about school was my high school years because it was so cliquish.  We moved to a new place when I was starting high school, and I didn’t have the self-confidence that I possess today.  I tended to withdraw instead of putting myself out there. If I could have one do-over in my life, it would be those years because it was the one time in my life that I wasn’t happy.

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

Pete Springer on how schools have changed

I think I’m very qualified to answer questions about schools.  One way that schools have changed today is the greater emphasis on technology.  I certainly am a proponent of the basics, but you have to play to your audience as well.  Kids love technology, and we live in a technological society.  Another change is the great emphasis that schools put on state testing.  That is quite unfortunate because it takes the joy out of learning for students and teachers.  While there are always going to be great kids in a school, there is a higher percentage of students with anger and mental health issues.  It makes the job harder to be a teacher and a student in a hostile environment.

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

I think schools generally give kids a well-rounded education.  One of the things schools are getting better at recognizing is that not every student is bound for college.  They are providing a path for students who will learn a trade.  There are still plenty of educators who recognize how important it is to keep the arts alive in schools, but I worry about cuts in this area.

How do you think schools could be improved?

Pete Springer on how schools could be improved

Besides de-emphasizing state testing, schools have an increasingly challenging job of dealing with bullying.  Violence is prevalent in our culture, and schools have increasing numbers of violent students who are dealing with mental health issues. The school has to be a safe place for kids; a place that they can learn in a nonthreatening environment with role models who inspire them.  Teaching educators how to equip themselves with firearms is not the answer!

 

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Pete. It’s been wonderful to have you here. I always love meeting other educators, especially those who are as passionate about children and learning as I am. I don’t think anyone who hasn’t been a teacher can ever understand the passion and dedication we have for our roles as life changers.

Find out more about Pete Springer

on his blog:  Pete Springer Author

Connect with him on social media

Facebook: Pete Springer Author

Twitter: Pete Springer

They Call Me Mom by Pete Springer

Purchase your own copy of They Call Me Mom

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

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

Yvette Prior

Colleen Chesebro

Balroop Singh

Thank you blog post

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

 

School Days reminiscences of Pamela Wight

School Days, Reminiscences of Pamela Wight

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 Pamela Wight, author, blogger and creative writing teacher. It seems that Pamela and I have known each other forever. I enjoy reading her blog Roughwighting where she muses on life and amuses with her short stories. Although I enjoyed her romance novel The Right Wrong Man – a fun story that I couldn’t put down – I was delighted when she published her first picture book Birds of Paradise, so delighted that I interviewed her about it on readilearn. I am very excited to hear that she has a new picture book Molly Finds her Purr coming out next month.

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

            Pamela Wight writes romantic suspense (The Right Wrong Man, Twin Desires) and is also the author of an illustrated children’s book, Birds of Paradise, a finalist in the International Book Awards, and the up-coming picture book Molly Finds Her Purr.  All of Wight’s page-turning novels are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble as paperbacks or e-books. Birds of Paradise (and Molly Finds Her Purr in September 2019) can be purchased on Amazon and Barnes & Noble as hardbacks.

            Pamela earned her MA in English from Drew University, continued with postgraduate work at UC Berkeley in publishing, and teaches creative writing classes in Boston and San Francisco. She lives in the Boston area with her “right man” and hikes the New England trails while concocting her third novel, As Lovely as a Lie. Wight speaks to book clubs and teaches creative writing classes in both locations. Many readers enjoy her “weekly blog on daily living” called Roughwighting. (www.roughwighting.net)

Pamela Wight and her books

Welcome, Pamela.

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

I attended elementary, middle, and high school in a small New Jersey town called Pitman. We only had about 400 students in the (non-private) high school. I couldn’t wait to leave Pitman and move on to bigger and better things. Now as an adult, I appreciate the wonderful aspects of small town living. 

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

I received my B.A. in English Lit from a small Pennsylvania college with excellent professor-to student-relationships. My professors gave me a paid internship when I was a senior to teach their small college Freshman English classes. With that experience, I got a full scholarship for graduate school near New York City, where I earned a Masters in English Literature.

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

I worked as an editor and writer for a small feminist newspaper. 

What is your earliest memory of school?

Kindergarten! I was so excited that the teacher had a corner full of costumes, where we could dress up and be anyone we wanted. I choose “Superwoman.”

What memories do you have of learning to read? 

I remember a stream of sunlight in my living room when I was young – before Kindergarten – and taking out the picture books on the bottom bookshelf and making up stories from the pictures. That’s when I first started to “read.”

What memories do you have of learning to write?

Pamela Wight learning to write

What I remember as a child is writing birthday and holiday cards to my family, many of them poems; this is how I first discovered my love of writing.

What do you remember about math classes?

How much I hated them. Math didn’t make sense to me; stories did.

What was your favourite subject? 

English.

What did you like best about school?

what Pamela Wight liked best about school

I loved going to my English and Drama (and even Latin) classes, because we were assigned stories and novels, and then discussed the characters and the setting and the plot in school: Fahrenheit 451 (where I began my love for Ray Bradbury’s writing), 1984 (dystopian!), Of Mice and Men (first book that made me sob), Invisible Man (awakened my social consciousness); Pride and Prejudice (romance with wit!). I woke up and grew up as I read these books.

What did you like least about school?

Biology and geometry. The worst? Dissecting frogs. I protested animal cruelty, but the teacher still made me do it.

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

Pamela Wight and granddaughter

I think my kids (and now my grandkids) are given a wider variety of subjects to learn in each class, even elementary. One of my 6-year-old grandchildren has explained to me the metamorphosis of a butterfly; a 5-year-old grandson has showed me his yogic postures of down dog and plow that he learned in Kindergarten; and my granddaughter recited a speech by John Adams in 4th grade and played the role of John Lennon on “Biography Day” in 5th grade. When I was in school during those grades, we just “followed the lines” in every subject.  Also, special education has improved so much from my school time (when basically there was no “special” education) to my children’s time, to my grandchildren’s, where there’s now much more focus on helping those with different learning abilities.

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

Open up a child’s intellect and curiosity about many subjects, and allow each child to thrive while learning.

Pamela Wight reading Birds of Paradise to children

How do you think schools could be improved?

I think schools should focus on the importance of empathy and compassion for all living beings, as well as the importance of learning a subject. Open up more lessons on diversity and how we each learn from each other. Additionally, we need more/better high school classes on ‘daily life’ activities like budgeting and nutrition.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Pamela. It’s been wonderful to have you here. I totally agree that we should focus more on the importance of empathy and compassion, and the ability to learn from each other.

Find out more about Pamela

Visit her blog: www.roughwighting.net

Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/12334429-pamela

Connect with her on social media

Facebook: http://facebook.com/roughwighting

Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/pamelawight

Twitter: https://twitter.com/pamelawight

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pam94920

Pamela Wight and her books

Purchase your own copy of

The Right Wrong Man

Twin Desires

Birds of Paradise

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

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

Pete Springer

Yvette Prior

Colleen Chesebro

Thank you blog post

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

 

Apples for the teacher

Apples for the teacher

My entire life has been focused on education, both in school and out. As explained in my poem Education is, I don’t consider education and school to be synonymous. While some learning may take place in school, education encompasses much more than that. It occurs through living and is lifelong.

While my views have always challenged the traditional approach, I haven’t always found other like-minded educators in my personal circle. When I do meet others with a similar passion for children and learning, I feel exhilarated and renewed, excited by the prospect of what could be.

Recently, on Facebook, I viewed this video by Prince Ea, musician and motivational speaker.

The video led me to the Innovation Playlist and Ted Dintersmith. I knew I had found others of similar mind when I saw that the first video on the Playlist was Do Schools Kill Creativity by Sir Ken Robinson, which I shared last week (and previously here, here and elsewhere). What joy!

There is much to explore on the Innovation Playlist, and I have only just begun. If like me, you believe traditional schooling could do with some improvement and are heartened by good things that are going on in many places, I highly recommend you take a look.

So far, I have watched Ted Dintersmith’s movie Most Likely to Succeed and am currently listening to his book What School Could Be. His book is a fascinating expose of schools in the United States of America. In one school year, he visited schools in every State discovering innovative “teachers doing extraordinary things in ordinary settings, creating innovative classrooms where children learn deeply and joyously.” His findings are inspiring and reassuring that schools can do more than prepare children for tests, they can prepare children for life. It is a fascinating read. If you live in the US, you will find something about schools in your own State. If you live outside the US, you will find something to inspire you.

For a quick overview of Dintersmith’s book and findings, read this article published in Education Week last year What’s Actually Working in the Classroom?

This discussion between Ted Dintersmith and Prince EA provides an insight into their motivations for improving education.

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge - poisoned apple

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a poisoned apple. Let’s explore dark myth. Deconstruct the original or invent something new. Negotiate the shadows, shed light, but go where the prompt leads you!

An apple is often used as a symbol for the teacher, and we talk about ‘an apple for the teacher’. Rather than write a fractured fairy tale, of which I am fond, I thought a poisoned apple was a perfect analogy for what happens when the focus of schooling is on test scores rather than children and learning. Let’s see what you think.

apples - which would you choose

It’s an institution

They arrived with bright eyes, open hearts and curious minds. As they entered, each was handed a shiny apple full of promises. They took their places and followed instructions. In unison, they bit off small portions of their apple and chewed to the beat of the enormous metronome suspended above. On cue, they swallowed but, with insufficient time before the required regurgitation, were unable to digest any components. Before they had finished, the taste was bland, swallowing difficult and regurgitation almost impossible. On exiting, their eyes were dull, their hearts closed, and their minds shrivelled, poisoned by false promises.

The antidote

They arrived with bright eyes, open hearts and curious minds. As they entered, each was handed a shiny apple full of promises. No instructions were given. Each was guided in making their own discoveries. Some investigated flavour, nutritional benefits, and created award-winning recipes. Some explored seed propagation, discovering ways of increasing productivity and limiting food scarcity. Some peeled the apple and inspected it layer by layer to determine its innermost secrets. Some cut it in half to reveal and release the stars within unlocking unlimited potential and the secrets of the universe. All were filled with wonder and learning.

«»

I conclude with a video in which Prince EA speaks to his teacher and explains to him why he is not a failure and why what happens in the classroom does not inspire learning. He includes one of my favourite quotes by Kahlil Gibran. What’s to not like?

Kahlil Gibran Children

 

Thank you teachers

To all the wonderful teachers in my community, I thank you for your hard work and dedication, and the positive difference you are making to the lives of so many children and their families. You make the world a better place.

Thank you blog post

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

School Days Reminiscences of Carol Taylor

School Days, Reminiscences of Carol Taylor

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 Carol Taylor who blogs at CarolCooks2 and writes about food, health, cooking, the environment and life in general, but especially in Thailand. I enjoy her positive outlook and the honesty with which she writes. I first met Carol at Sally Cronin’s where she contributes a regular column about food and cooking. She has taken a great interest in the school days reminiscences shared by others and was happy to join in the conversation sharing her own.

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

Enjoying life in The Land of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have come to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use contain to improve our health and wellbeing.

The environment is also something I am passionate about …Plastic, Recycling and effects of Global Warming are all high on my agenda now…I am appalled at man’s waste and how they are destroying our beautiful natural world…But also how successive governments around the world are not doing enough to address this problem.

introducing Carol Taylor

Welcome, Carol.

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

Carol Taylor in class photo

My school days…I am dredging deep now as that was many, many years ago…I started at Potter Street Infants and Juniors and then progressed to the local Comprehensive which it became just as I started. Brays Grove, Harlow, Essex, England.

I then progressed to Tottenham Technical College before starting work…

What is your earliest memory of school?

I can’t remember much about my early school years …I was happy I don’t have any bad memories I remember my mother still tells that tale as how when I first started school I stated I was now old enough to walk on my own…She got the bigger girls in the street to watch me..we didn’t live far it was maybe a five minute walk but I never let my mother take me I was always an independent miss or minx…ha-ha

What memories do you have of learning to read and write?

Carol Taylor explains her love of reading

I think I was born being able to read and write I never remember struggling and my handwriting was always neat and tidy I tried to emulate my father who wrote beautifully. The local library was my home and I always took out the maximum books and I was back again the next Saturday for more…Like many of us I read under the bedclothes and from memory early presents for me were always books…I loved the famous five and my Rupert Bear annuals…That was until I received my first set of encyclopaedias…and also a set of reference books on Botany …

What was your favourite subject?

Carol Taylor enjoys playing piano

My father thought girls just got married and had children my mother always said very nice dear when I showed her my A+ marks…I was a good student…Particularly in Biology, History and Geography because I could write and add illustrations…Domestic Science and needlework I have always loved and music I mean we should all have music in our lives and I love to play the piano which was my first instrument. My nana’s every day after school as she had a lovely piano…and practise I did…until she passed away and her piano was given to the nurse who looked after her…I have never quite forgiven that action…

What do you remember about math classes?

You have probably noticed I didn’t mention Maths, Physics or P.E….Apart from the swimming I hated the rest and avoided where possible…Or tried to sit at the back of class unnoticed…

What other memories do you have of school?

Languages I studied 3…Latin, German and French… all at my senior school which I think is too late to start…Language is learnt far easier when the child is younger I can only speak for here( Thailand) but English is taught from when the child first starts school so much easier to pick up…

I was never the most popular or unpopular I was just there. I had a few friends rather than everyone…

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

From senior school I progressed to Tottenham Technical College to do Hair dressing and Beauty culture …I enjoyed my two years there. I learnt a lot about culture as I was meeting people from different backgrounds…I had led a sheltered life until then… I have always had a streak in me which didn’t want to conform to the norm so college allowed me to do that…I was a competition model my hair has been all colours and wacky styles which meant when my children wanted to dye their hair green I was overjoyed not the reaction kids like …ha-ha..

I finished my two years with a distinction and came out raring to go…First Year improver…Hmmm…Not for this girl… I joined an Engineering company and did their stats for them…I left school and college still not knowing what I really wanted to do…

I then had my first daughter and worked part time at our local Hospital…I was there for a few years mostly enjoyable and a learning curve …I was still an avid reader but apart from a diary never wrote much…That came much later in my life…

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

Carol Taylor's thirst for learning and inquisitive mind

I have always had a thirst for learning and an inquisitive mind and when I saw an advert for a Banking position I applied…Although maths was not my strong point in Senior school I can add up in my head all that early learning in Infants and Juniors paid off I still remember all of that…I passed the entrance exams…That really was the start of learning as while at the bank I took evening classes and passed A-level law and The London Institute of Banking and Mortgage Practise exams with distinction which is my highest level of education…

My dear friend Jilly was my mentor she was a nursing sister…and she encouraged my thirst for knowledge telling my children and me that when I was studying I was unavailable…anything they wanted they asked before or after and it worked after a few days…

After 15 years in banking I then started work for the government until I retired…Another learning curve …That was when my real distrust of politicians started…

After retiring to Phuket and by chance joining a writing group…All my thanks go to them, they encouraged me …In my friend Dianne’s words…’ Oh my Buddha what have we released?” My writing journey began in earnest as did my cooking as much is not available here so some was borne out of necessity and the rest out of my growing awareness of what is in our food.

How do you think schools could be improved?

Carol Taylor's suggestions for improving schools

Having lived here, Thailand for 8 years now…and watched my grandsons grow up through the Australian school system …My observations are that schools are too politically correct now…too qualification driven…I think children should be allowed to be children first and foremost…I think more attention should be paid to the fact that not everyone is academic and if they have other qualities like working with their hands it should be encouraged…

So should a community spirit which is high on the agenda here in Thailand…I was a late starter as regards qualifications and that door should always be open…By listening and advising in a non-doctorial way but a two way conversation… if a child struggles with reading let them read a book which is of interest to them and fosters questions.

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

Carol Taylor on what schools do well

From my research into climate change I have been heartened by the fact that many schools now are encouraging children to learn about the environment and showing them how to grow food…I think that is good way forward …

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Carol. It’s been wonderful to have you here. I love your attitude to learning and agree that it should be life-long. I also agree that ‘children should be allowed to be children first and foremost’ and to ‘let them read a book which is of interest to them and fosters questions.’ I am heartened by your observation that ‘many schools are now encouraging children to learn about the environment’.

Find out more about Carol Taylor

on her blog: https://carolcooks2.com/

and connect with her on social media

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/TheRealCarolT

Face bookhttps://www.facebook.com/carol.taylor.1422

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/caroltaylor56/pins/

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology:

https://www.amazon.com/Phuket-Island-Writers-Anthology-Stories-ebook/dp/B00RU5IYNS

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

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

Pamela Wight

Pete Springer

Yvette Prior

Colleen Chesebro

Thank you blog post

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

 

Move it like a rock star flash fiction

Move it like a rock star

Charli Mill's flash fiction challenge - rock star

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a rock star. You can feature a central character or write about the feeling like a rock star. Go where the prompt leads!

One of my favourite TED talks is Ken Robinson’s Do Schools Kill Creativity? If you haven’t watched it yet, I recommend it as a very entertaining 20 minutes. I find it both heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time.

In the video, Ken suggests that all kids have tremendous talents, and we squander them, pretty ruthlessly.” He quotes Pablo Picasso as saying that every child is an artist. Remaining one into adulthood is the problem.

Robinson then goes on to talk about having lived at Snitterfield just outside Stratford, which is where Shakespeare’s father was born.”

He asks, Are you struck by a new thought? I was. You don’t think of Shakespeare having a father, do you? Do you? Because you don’t think of Shakespeare being a child, do you? Shakespeare being seven? I never thought of it. I mean, he was seven at some point. He was in somebody’s English class, wasn’t he?”

Now that’s an interesting thought. I wonder if your English teachers remember you from their classes. Could they have made any of the comments that Robinson suggests may have been made about the young William Shakespeare, including:

“Must try harder.”

or at bedtime, being sent to bed by his dad,

“Go to bed, now!”

“And put the pencil down!”

“Stop speaking like that.”

“It’s confusing everybody.”

It’s quite a thought. Perhaps as writers, we should reveal our school reports that are relevant to our writing careers. How well did our teachers predict our futures?

But we’re not discussing writers in this post. We’re discussing rock stars. I guess most rock stars started out in someone’s classroom too. And that made me think of this inspirational video by Clint Pulver, professional drummer and motivational speaker, who discusses one moment and one teacher who changed his life.

We all hope for a Mr Jensen in our lives to help us realise our full potential.

Movin’ It

Miss Prim turned from the board just in time to see Max land a punch on Michael.

“Ma-ax!”

“He bumped me.”

Miss Prim sighed. “What were you doing, Michael?”

“Noth—”

“He was rocking the desk again.”

“How many times—”

Without direction, Michael removed himself to sit in the corner. Before long, his feet were twitching, his elbows were pumping and his whole body was squirming.

“Michael!”

Everyone looked.

“Sorry, Miss,” Michael muttered.

But he couldn’t keep still.

Years later, when he was a rock star, Miss Prim said, “I knew he’d make something of himself one day.”

«»

I chose the name Michael for my character for three rock stars, only one of whom is still living (the oldest) but all of whom had the moves.

Mick Jagger

Michael Hutchence

Michael Jackson

Thank you blog post

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

School Days, Reminiscences of Chelsea Owens

School Days, Reminiscences of Chelsea Owens

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 Chelsea Owens. I first met Chelsea when she pulled up at the Carrot Ranch and joined in the flash fiction challenges. I enjoy her wry wit and sense of humour, some of which you’ll experience in her responses to my interview questions. It was also evident in her four creative and original entries in the Carrot Ranch Rodeo fractured fairy tale contest last year. Since I love fractured fairy tales and it was the contest that I judged, the connection was inevitable.

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

I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah in the year never-you-mind. My mother felt strongly about living outside of the state, so we lived for a brief time in Ridgecrest, CA. She really ought to have considered a more scenic area to successfully convince my homebody father of out-of-Utah merits, because the remainder of my life (and theirs) has been back in Utah.

I generally grew up around the Salt Lake City metro area and still live there. Erm, here. I now have 4.5 children of my own, all boys. In the time between eating while doing dishes and sleeping while taking children to the bathroom, I run errands and pretend I’m on top of the laundry. Okay, okay: I also write. I maintain two blogs: A personal one and one on motherhood.

I started the former blog in order to have an outlet for my repressed creativity. The latter is to build an audience and connections for the book I will publish Someday.

Although I began blogging rather ignorant of writers, The World, and my own talents and abilities; I have since found a much more welcoming audience than I’ve experienced at any other time in my life. The blogging community is wonderful, and I so appreciate all the wonderful people I’ve met through writing online.

Chelsea Owens School Days Reminiscences

Welcome, Chelsea.

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

Whilst living in California, I spent preschool and half of Kindergarten near our hometown of Ridgecrest. The remaining schools have been in Utah.

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

I remember attending preschool at a woman’s house, but all of my education since has been at public schools.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

This is a top-secret answer, since I like for people to assume I’m a decorated graduate of the highest degree. In truth, I locked in enough credits to earn my Associate of Arts degree about a year after birthing my second son.

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

My work and professions were assorted; their primary function was support of my education. My first job was a secretary for a chiropractor. I also did quality control, data entry, chemicals cataloging, phone surveying, and (most recently) content writing. Since becoming a mother, I have not worked outside the home. I have done some freelance work and help maintain our online dice store.

What is your earliest memory of school?

I remember walking into my second preschool building and what that looked like inside. It’s a shadowy memory of women at tables and shape cards on the tabletop. The building itself was a very small, house-shaped structure on a patch of lawn. Just before moving away from the area, we drove past and my mother told me it had been sold to another business. We told it, “Goodbye.”

What memories do you have of learning to read?

Chelsea Owens School Days Reminiscences 

My mother tells me that I taught myself to read at age four, yet I recall watching billboards out of the car windows and not being able to decipher them. To me, it was much like trying to read Cyrillic or Arabic. I’ve never had a problem with reading or comprehension besides that, although I have mispronounced a few words because of not hearing them aloud.

What memories do you have of learning to write? 

Unlike other interviewees in this series, I do not remember learning to write. I remember writing cursive. My older sister learned in third grade so, naturally, I had to learn as well. My poor relatives had to get through letters of my seven-year-old efforts, proudly bearing a footnote, “written in cursive.” I also did that to them with my trying to write left-handed. I think I only made my parents suffer through letters written with my toes, though.

What do you remember about math classes? 

I love math! I would marry it. I’m not fond of statistics or calculus. I also have an early memory of needing to stay in at recess in fourth grade in order to grasp long division. Really, I would only marry algebra.

What was your favourite subject?

Chelsea Owens School Days Reminiscences

In elementary years I enjoyed recess and P.E. Our school had climbing ropes and I got to monkey up one during our class’ talent program in first grade. Although I did eventually earn The Presidential Fitness Award in ninth grade and then did Track and Field in high school, I resented being graded for my physical activity in 5th-8th grades.

Chelsea Owens School Days Reminiscences

I also liked physics, art, English, algebra, and choir.

What did you like best about school? 

My favorite parts of school were when the teachers introduced variety. I liked new challenges and being able to show off academically.

What did you like least about school?

I had a difficult time making friends in school, even up until high school (age 15). I did not have any friends and was generally ostracized by my peers.

I also have never liked pointless schoolwork, known as busywork.

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

My children currently attend a charter school and those did not exist in my childhood. They have a lot more technology in their classrooms like Smart Boards, iPads, and laptops for taking tests on. Their school is attentive to behavioral issues and bullying. My boys have been able to progress a bit more in terms of academics as well, testing to move up a grade in their math classes.

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

I think the schools around here do a good job at addressing bullying and at answering parental concerns. Some have language immersion programs or opportunities for advanced subjects.

How do you think schools could be improved?

Chelsea Owens School Days Reminiscences

The issue I see as most harmful to the education system in America is that of encouraging everyone to attend college. Like, everyone. This needs to be changed so that people may test and train in technical fields if they wish, especially if they would succeed in that role instead of accrue a helpless amount of student loan debt. Entry level jobs have the requirement of a college degree now instead of a GED or high school diploma. We are simply adding more debt to an already-cynical generation.

In a similar fashion, the public schools are required to accommodate everyone -including those with special needs. This a sore subject and one that I benefit somewhat from, since two of my children receive special education help for behavioral issues. I hold no animosity for children with more severe needs and know that they benefit from being around their more functional peers. Yet I also see most of the school’s resources going toward trying to entertain them all day and I see teachers with increasing numbers of more challenging pupils. Teachers already have a difficult job. I’ve yet to think of an ideal solution and fear it may involve limiting access for those children with needs.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Chelsea. It’s refreshing to hear from someone who enjoyed, and excelled at, both maths and PE. It’s been a pleasure to have you visit and get to know a little more about you.

Find out more about Chelsea Owens on her blogs

Chelsea Ann Owens

I Didn’t Want to Be a Mother

Connect with her on social media

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/Celinedespions/

Twitter:
@chelseaowrites
@momtherealist

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

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

Carol Taylor

Pamela Wight

Pete Springer

Yvette Prior

Thank you blog post

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

 

School Days Reminiscences of Mabel Kwong

School Days, Reminiscences of Mabel Kwong

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 Mabel Kwong, non-fiction writer and blogger. I enjoy reading Mabel’s eponymous blog where she shares her thoughts about life and attitudes in Australia. It is enlightening, and also saddening at times, to read her perspectives. It seems that racism is still alive and a little too well in Australia.

I have great admiration for Mabel and admire her honesty. I think all Australians, and others, would benefit from reading her blog. Perhaps then we’d come to know and understand each other a little better and in turn, be more accepting and respectful.

At the beginning of 2018, I was honoured when Mabel accepted my invitation to write a post for readilearn about her experience of Chinese New Year celebrations. She wrote this lovely post The significance of the Chinese New Year — a guest post by Mabel Kwong. Mabel also generously permitted me to present her information as an ebook Let’s read about Chinese New Year which is available to read free on readilearn.

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

Mabel Kwong is a non-fiction writer in Melbourne, Australia. Mabel was born in Australia and has spent time living in Singapore and Malaysia. With a keen eye on observing everyday details, she writes about multiculturalism, cultural differences and the writing process. She blogs at MabelKwong.com and shares various perspectives on these topics, encouraging all of us to learn from one other.

In 2017, Mabel published ‘How I Found The Confidence To Chase My Passion’ in the self-help book Lady by the River: A collection of personal stories about persevering through challenging times. Her works on current affairs, lifestyle tips and audience reception have also been published in magazines, online editorials and academic journals. She is currently working on her first book about being Asian Australian and finding the inspiration to pursue one’s passion.

Outside of writing, Mabel is a photographer and enjoys going to gigs, walking, playing video games and watching YouTube.

Purchase Lady by the River here

Welcome, Mabel.

Now let’s talk school. First, please tell us where you went to school.

Growing up as a third culture kid, I moved around a lot and attended schools in different countries. I went to kindergarten in Australia. Then I did primary school in Malaysia and later in Singapore. Most of my high school education was done in Singapore, and the last year was completed in Melbourne. I attended university in Melbourne.

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

My education was a mix of government and private schooling.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

A postgraduate degree.

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

When I was in high school, I was intent on pursuing a career in the media, aspiring to be a journalist or a writer smithing non-fiction narratives. At university I was keen on developing my written skills and took writing classes in my Bachelor of Arts. I was also very good at maths and ended up majoring in that alongside cultural studies as part of my degree.

What is your earliest memory of school?

I remember my kindergarten days quite vividly. I was about five and went to kindergarten in a quiet eastern suburb in Victoria where the demographic was predominantly white. My classmates were mostly of western background. They came up to me during recess and laughed at my razor straight bangs and avoided sitting with me during lunch.

I also remember back then my kindergarten had a set uniform code. Girls had the choice of dressing up in a green and yellow checkered dress that hit just at the knee or a blouse with long pants. My parents dressed me in the latter most of the time even when it was 30’C because they thought the dress was not modest enough.

What memories do you have of learning to read?

Mabel Kwong school days reminiscences

Reading time was something I looked forward to in school. In kindergarten, reading time meant reading aloud. Each time it came to my turn to read, my stuttering voice stumbled over the words. Every time I got stuck at a word my heartbeat raced and my face felt flush. It was a mortifying feeling when the other kids giggled but my teacher was always patient, letting me finish reading aloud at my own pace.

Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl were some of my favourite authors growing up. My parents were encouraging of my reading habit and bought me plenty of books by these authors. As a teenager, I got into reading young adult fiction books based off TV series, including Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Charmed, Sabrina The Teenage Witch and also Archie Comics. Later on in high school, I started reading more non-fiction. My high school classes in Singapore made us read articles from the Reader’s Digest magazine each week. I was always the first to finish reading the required articles in class and went on to read more articles in the magazine.

What memories do you have of learning to write?

Mabel Kwong school days reminiscences

When I was eight, every day after primary school in Malaysia I’d write fictional stories about fire-breathing dragons. The words flowed effortlessly. In high school in Singapore I continued this writing streak, and was chuffed when my English teacher read aloud my essays in class as examples of how essays should be written. Later at university in Australia I struggled to write poetry in creative writing classes and my tutors commented my attempts at journalistic news writing were ‘a good start’. Life at university did make me question my ability to be what it takes to be a writer.

What do you remember about math classes?

A love-hate relationship would be how I’d describe me and maths. All throughout school and university, I was good at maths. Studying maths is emphasised a lot in South-East Asian school curriculum and getting less than a B grade meant attending maths remedial classes. While I aced high school maths and aced calculus/fluid dynamics within my Applied Mathematics major at university, I lacked the passion for maths. When I sat down to revise for maths at university, my mind wandered to my cultural studies and journalism classes, planning that next story I wanted to write in my head. That said, from a young age my teachers instilled in me that maths (and science) is important – such as important for calculations, predicting weather patterns and drawing up code to build phone apps.

What was your favourite subject?

English. I’ve always wanted to be a writer and all things grammar and vocabulary appealed to me.

What did you like best about school?

Mabel Kwong school days reminiscences

Excursions. Camping trips where my class got to zip down a zip line, outings to the beach to pick up litter and afternoons at old folks’ home were some fond memories of school excursions. Just as there’s much to learn inside the classroom, there’s much more to learn outside.

What did you like least about school?

School is a place where there are rules to adhere to whether you like it or not. I wasn’t a huge fan of wearing compulsory school uniforms where skirts had to be a certain length and in Singapore schools, long hair had to be tied up (in some South-East Asian schools, girls’ hair couldn’t go past their ears). Also my Singapore high school divided the cohort into academic streams – the Express stream learnt at a faster pace and took more advanced subjects while the Normal stream took more technical subjects. Moreover, not everyone got to do the subjects they wanted to do; I wanted to do geography but by luck of the draw I was put into history class.

There’s also not forgetting that my Singapore high school classes started at 7.30am each day. P.E. classes required us to run 2.5km within a certain time or get a low grade. As a night owl and someone who isn’t all that athletic, I don’t miss either of these.

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

These days there are many options on getting an education especially higher education in Australia. Online and distance learning at our own pace off-campus can be convenient if we work full time. Notably, primary and secondary school fees are in the thousands each year per student and tertiary student loans are on the rise in Australia. While education may be more accessible, it might not be more affordable.

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

Patient and encouraging teachers make learning much more enjoyable.

How do you think schools could be improved?

Mabel Kwong on how schools could be improved

At times school can be a place where we feel we don’t belong. As Hugh Roberts said in his interview for this series, ‘Nobody should feel afraid to go to school because they are bullied or just because they’re told they are different and don’t fit in.’ There needs to be more focus on bringing awareness towards discrimination, racism and bullying. Having more open discussions in class about different cultures, sexualities, gender, mental illness and disabilities would foster a stronger sense of belonging in school and encourage us to embrace and respect differences early on.

 

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Mabel. It’s been wonderful to have you here. I think your suggestions for improving schools are lessons we could all apply throughout life. When we feel like we belong we are more likely to respect and accept others.

Find out more about Mabel Kwong

on her blog: MabelKwong.com

or connect with her on social media

Facebook: @TheMabelKwong

Twitter: @TheMabelKwong

Instagram: @TheMabelKwong1

LinkedIn: @TheMabelKwong

Purchase Lady by the River here

Purchase your own copy of Lady By The River here on 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

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

Chelsea Owens

Carol Taylor

Pamela Wight

Pete Springer

 

Thank you blog post

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