Category Archives: Traditional schooling

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.

 

School Days, Reminiscences of Sherri Matthews

School Days, Reminiscences of Sherri Matthews

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 Sherri Matthews, memoir writer, essayist, short story writer and blogger. It seems Sherri and I have been friends forever. We love to hang out (online) at each other’s places as time permits and are always understanding when life gets in the way. We know we will pick up where we left off.  Sherri’s Summerhouse is always open to visitors and she has been one of the most active in raising awareness of SMAG (Society of Mutual Appreciation and Gratitude) and I love that, after four years since its inception, she still refers to it in her comments.

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

Sherri once worked in the medical and legal fields. When she got laid off, she praised the heavens for the chance, at last, to write her book. Six years later, her memoir, Stranger In A White Dress, is in final edits. Blogging at her Summerhouse along the way, Sherri also writes from her life as a Brit mum raising her children in California and as advocate for her youngest, diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at 18. Sherri also shares snippets of life with her dear old jailbird dad. Today, Sherri lives in England with her hubby, Aspie, two black cats and a grumpy Bunny Nutkins. She walks, takes photos and finds joy creating a garden full of bees and butterflies with her dad’s words, ‘Keep smiling, Kid’, ringing in her ears. Especially when the robin sings.

Sherri Matthews reminiscences of school days

Welcome, Sherri.

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

England, first in Surrey, then at ten moved to Suffolk.

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

Government.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

I left high school at 16 with enough ‘O’ Level qualifications to get a semi-decent first job. Buying a car was my priority, thanks to living miles from town. And yes, even turning down the opportunity to go on to University, fully funded by the Government (I know, I know…kick me, someone, please…). But at 19 and wanting better prospects, I returned to full time education and was accepted for a full time, year-long course, at my local college, attaining an RSA (Royal Society of Arts) Diploma as a Personal Assistant with business and legal studies.

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

Sherri Matthews reminiscences of school days

At first thought, nothing at school influenced me, finding rather than choosing my job as a Postal Officer, which I enjoyed. Had my own till and everything. I was always drawn to both the medical and legal profession, but it was my diploma that influenced my eventual chosen profession of paralegal when I moved to California. But now you ask, Norah, I always secretly flirted with the idea of becoming a ‘real’ writer…you know, in that far off distant realm of pipe dreams. This, thanks to Mrs Anderson’s English Literature class so on reflection, school held more influence for me than I realised…

What is your earliest memory of school?

Feeling homesick and counting the seconds to the last bell and the school bus ride home. And calling my teacher ‘Mummy’ by mistake, going bright red when she smiled and gently corrected me. She had white, fluffy hair I recall, strangely and rather amusingly reminding me of Rupert Bear.

What memories do you have of learning to read?

Oh, I loved to read! I had a lot of Ladybird early reader Janet and John books at home and was able to read by the time I started primary school. I adored all of Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five books, especially Five Go To Treasure Island, a wonderful ripping adventure. I loved the tomboy Georgina. I had the A A Milne paperback book set of Winnie The Pooh and felt very grown up reading Now We Are Six when I was…well…six. Most of my reading, I recall, was in bed waiting for my dad to come home from work.

What memories do you have of learning to write?

My earliest memories are of scribbling illegible ‘notes’ in the margin of my reading books and getting told off by Mum. At school, I practised letters in a lined exercise book, graduating to daily ‘Morning News’ about the night before, mine usually describing eating baked beans on toast and watching Jackanory. Later, we learnt how to write italics with ink filled fountain pens, beautiful flowing cursive I would not recognise as my own today. Being a leftie, I always ended up with ink smudges on my hand and arm.

What do you remember about math classes?

Sherri Matthews reminiscences of school days

Not liking it, except when my maths teacher turned up in old tweeds, a projector and slides of his safaris in Africa. No wonder I didn’t learn much. Yet mental arithmetic I’ve used in several jobs, so I must have learned something. But algebra and the like? Forget it. The best maths lesson that actually helped me in life came from the headmistress of my village primary school in Suffolk. At the end of each day, our class stood up reciting by rote until we knew by heart the entire Times Table. We grumbled, but it’s ingrained to this day.

What was your favourite subject?

Creative writing, biology, music, athletics and gymnastics. And country dancing, because we girls got to hold hands with the boys.

 What did you like best about school?

Sherri Matthews reminiscences of school days

The last bell. I jest…or do I? In primary school, I loved being Milk Monitor, when every child was given a third of a pint of milk in a bottle for mid-morning break. I got to poke the straw in the foil cap and hand them out. I loved quiet reading and writing time and holiday times like Christmas when we got to make homemade gifts. By high school, I loved meeting my friends, having fun being silly. I met my then best friend playing flute in the school orchestra. And drama was fun, though I scraped my shin falling off the stage once and still have the scar.

What did you like least about school?

I enjoyed my Food and Nutrition class, but each week I had to write an in-depth essay and bring all the ingredients to school. I then had to travel home with my cooked dishes. Not easy, since I travelled 20 miles each way by two buses, and often with no spare seat on the public bus. By the time I got home, I was sick to my stomach of the smell of my food, but my Mum and brother couldn’t wait for ‘tea’. I also didn’t like the girl gang headed up by a really mean girl nicknamed, Noddy.

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

Because my children were raised and educated mostly in California, I am more familiar with the system as it was then, though students here seem now to have the same more relaxed relationship with their teachers as there, from what I have observed. The teachers in my day were much stricter. I got my knuckles rapped with a wooden ruler once and it hurt. No more of that, thank goodness. I think there’s more interaction today in class, fostering more interest from the students instead of the boredom of rote learning of my day.

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

I was struck by the way my children’s elementary classes in California fostered a climate of being kind and thoughtful to others, of being awarded for not just academic progress, but for good citizenship. I was fully hands-on as a volunteer, but I never saw my parents at school, except for sport’s day. Nobody noticed when I cried at school, but today I think there is more awareness generally for struggling children, though there is still a great need for improvement. My youngest slipped through the cracks and wasn’t diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome until eighteen.

How do you think schools could be improved?

Sherri Matthews - how schools could be improved

Which leads me to…less focus on those dreaded OFSTED ratings (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) and more on the individual.  The expectation that all students should be good at all subjects is something I think needs to go. More emphasis on each student’s talents and strengths in smaller classrooms and rapport building between the teachers, student and parent is needed, fostering mutual respect. My youngest and middle boy finished their schooling years in England at a high OFSTED rated school, yet despite my frequent calls asking for support for my youngest, we got none.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Sherri. It’s been a pleasure to have you here. I enjoyed reading about your own school experiences and agree with your suggestions for improving schools through smaller classes and better relationships. It is disappointing to know that your own daughter was one of those who ‘slipped through the cracks’.

Catch up with Sherri Matthews on her blog

A View from My Summerhouse

Or connect with her on social media

Facebook Author Page: A View from My Summerhouse

Twitter: @WriterSherri

LinkedIn: Sherri Matthews

Blurb for Sherri Matthew’s soon-to-be-published memoir Stranger in a White Dress

‘We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned,
so as to have the life that is waiting for us.’
~E. M. Forster~

Set against the backdrop of the late 1970s, the story of a chance meeting one summer’s night between two eighteen year olds unfolds: Sherri, an English girl living in rural Suffolk, and Jonathan (Jon), an American G. I. from California newly posted to a USAF base nearby.

They fall in love fast, but Sherri, delighted to show off her homeland to this “new boy”,  soon discovers that although growing up thousands of miles apart, they share dark similarities, which quickly threaten to unravel their relationship.

Their mothers divorced from alcoholic fathers, both were raised by abusive step-fathers.  Jon’s increasing drug use and resulting paranoia clash with Sherri’s insecurities as hopes of “fixing” him and of the stable family life she dreams of slip away.

Los Angeles and lust; obsession and rage; passion and the power of love: theirs is a love affair defined by break-ups and make-ups, and then a shattering revelation explodes into this already volatile mix, altering the course of both their lives profoundly and forever.

A tale of darkest tragedy, yet dotted with moments of hilarity and at times the utterly absurd, this is a story of two young people who refuse to give up, believing their love will overcome all.

Not until decades after their chance meeting, and during a return trip to Los Angeles in 2013, does Sherri discover that Jon’s last wish has been granted.

It’s then that she knows the time has come to tell her story.

♦♦♦

Other publications by Sherri Matthews

Sherri Matthews - writing

You can find a list of where Sherri has been published in magazines and online here.

Her writing also appears in these anthologies:

The Congress of Rough Writers: Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1

Lady By The River: Stories of Perseverance

Slices of Life: An Anthology of Selected Non-Fiction Short Stories

Heart Whispers: A Poetry Anthology

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

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

Coming soon:

Mabel Kwong

Chelsea Owens

Pete Springer

Carol Taylor

Thank you blog post

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

School days, reminiscences of Susan Scott

School Days, Reminiscences of Susan Scott

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 Susan Scott, author and blogger. Susan and I have been following each other’s blogs for quite some years now. Susan’s posts are often philosophical and intrigue me with new ideas to contemplate. She thinks deeply and writes about a range of subjects from as big as our place in the universe to the smaller like her garden in South Africa. Her outlook is always optimistic with a wish for peace in the world. I like the way she concludes her posts with the words, “May the force be with you” or similar that reflects her desire to find the good in every situation.

As I usually do, before we began the interview, I invited Susan to tell you a little of herself.

Born in Port Elizabeth, lived in various parts of the country and abroad. Married, two adult sons, one a musician, the other an animator. Author of two books, ‘In Praise of Lilith, Eve & the Serpent in the Garden of Eden & Other Stories‘ (a collection of psychological essays); and 2nd book co-authored with Dr. Susan E Schwartz Jungian analyst in Phoenix Arizona “Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry‘. We express our own thoughts on the process of aging in letters to each other.

BA Clin. Psych. Hons

At the moment I’m living between two worlds. We are relocating from Johannesburg to Plettenberg Bay on the south-west Cape. It’s a big move, packing up personal belongings so that a corporate rental can take over in a week’s time.

I enjoy walking and hiking, reading and writing.

My blog, which is intermittent, is usually of a psychological nature. I’m an ongoing student of my own inner world and of that around me – living between two worlds as I said earlier!

Garden of Eden Blog. https://www.gardenofedenblog.com

Books by Susan Scott

Welcome, Susan.

Let’s talk school. First, could you tell us where you attended school and if they were government, private or independent schools?

I attended a variety of schools in South Africa and Zimbabwe, some private some public (government schools). Some girls-only schools, a few co-ed – boys! – in high school. Which took my attention off the lessons to be learned. The fingers on both hands are insufficient for the number of schools I attended.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

BA (HONS) Clinical Psychology, as a mature student, in my late 20’s and early 30’s. 

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

I was in banking for many years – different branches around the country here in South Africa, and a stint in London. For several years after that I worked for an American computer company that had set up a training course exclusively for black students pro bono to learn computer skills. My job was to guide the students for placement in the industry which meant meeting with the captains of industry to secure employment for them. Apartheid was entrenched in those days though businesses were keen to show otherwise. My job was to place the graduated student in a suitable environment.

What is your earliest memory of school?

It’s not a happy memory –  that of being around 8 years old at a school in Harare (Zimbabwe. Then it was Salisbury, Rhodesia). The girls circled around me and called me all sorts of unmentionable names on account of my very dark skin. It’s strange that this is the one that stands out and that I don’t recall from any earlier …

What memories do you have of learning to read?

It helps to have siblings who occasionally fill in the gaps. My older brother was visiting recently, and he said that I was a very early reader happily ensconced in e.g. Enid Blyton preferring nose in books instead of my nose outside playing. Which of course I did do, in the sun, hence an olive skin that darkened easily.

What memories do you have of learning to write?

If I dredge my memory bank, I recall teachers admonishing us to hold the pencil correctly. Write upright, hold the pencil straight between the thumb and forefinger, other end to point over your shoulder close to your neck. Thumb, forefinger and middle finger on the pencil. Cross the t’s dot the i’s. Write neatly.

What do you remember about math classes?

School days, reminiscences of Susan Scott

In a way I loved maths, the order and logic of it all. I could see the bigger picture, arriving at a correct conclusion, rather than the details as to how the answer was arrived. This was not especially pleasing to any maths teacher, nor my father who was a mathematical whizz. The times table was drilled into us until we could say them backwards as were theorems. To this day I calculate the cost of goods as I unload the shopping trolley and am pretty accurate most of the time!

What was your favourite subject?

School days, reminiscences of Susan Scott

My favourite subject was probably English and the set works including the poetry of the greats. Writing essays (in a very neat cursive handwriting) gave me a measure of pleasure for the opportunity of expression as I saw it.

What did you like best about school?

I came into a little bit more of my own in my last years of high school, a co-ed. I finally gave up my very bad stuttering around age 16 which made my life a lot easier as I could hold a conversation and be part of life instead of apart from it. And of course, boys! Bunking school became an art with a few of my subversive girlfriends. My mid-teen years were possibly those that formed me into a closet anarchist (in the best sense of the word).

What did you like least about school?

School days, reminiscences of Susan Scott

My earlier years in school were always difficult because of my stuttering. I felt I was deliberately picked out to answer a question in front of class or read from a passage, which was practically impossible for me to do. And if I didn’t answer, being put in a corner with my back to the class. Some say that their school years were among the happiest of their lives – perhaps because of my perception and experience I always find that response somewhat suspect. (Though my younger son loved high school and I know others of my sons’ peers who feel likewise. My husband loved his school years). I can’t say I hated school or the many schools I attended. The one I attended here in Johannesburg for 18 months were good. I made a lasting friend from then, even though for many years we lived in different parts of the world until her death two years ago.

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

Similar dynamics from my schooldays probably still reign in contemporary schools among classmates, those of e.g. bullying, scapegoating and meanness. There was no violence in my days among pupils such as we see or hear of today where pupils carry weapons to school and knock off a fellow pupil or teacher. We were ‘pupils’ at school; here in SA we are ‘learners’. Classes are usually larger in government schools, certainly for the majority and there are not enough classrooms. It is not uncommon to hear of 50 pupils sharing 3 or 4 to a desk. There is high teacher absentee-ism in many government schools and badly trained teachers to boot. Children seem to have more rights than their teachers or the stated school philosophy. Parents sadly leave it all up to the school to instil good behavior, not realizing that their role as parent and early educator is the most fundamental one.

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

There are many examples of government schools providing an excellent education for their pupils even those from extremely impoverished backgrounds. I guess it takes a stern yet caring approach from those in authority, from the headmaster down. Schools that do well encourage learning from the beginning, as do parents of course who can set a good example by early reading to their children.

There are many NGO’s who do their best to improve literacy in schools. Illiteracy, despite matriculating, is still very prevalent.

This next, Norah, is recent and interesting but I couldn’t find the URL for it. Please shorten as you see fit. (Norah’s note: I didn’t shorten it as I enjoyed it and hope you will too. I also found these links to further information here and here.)

Nal’ibali, the national reading-for-enjoyment campaign scooped a big international award for their hard work of encouraging good reading habits in South Africa.

 Aarhus, Denmark – Nal’ibali, the national reading-for-enjoyment campaign aimed at sparking children’s potential through reading and storytelling, has been awarded The Joy of Reading Prize by the Systematic Joy of Reading at Dook 1 in Aarhus, Denmark. The award was presented by the president of the International Library Association, IFLA, Glòria Pérez-Salmerón from Spain on Saturday, 1 June.

Twenty-eight projects from around the world were nominated, focussing on initiatives that disseminate the joy and ability to read, and thus engage in the fight against illiteracy. Jade Jacobsohn, Nal’ibali’s Managing Director, received the award on behalf of her dedicated team in South Africa.

“I would like to dedicate this award to the 17000 literacy activists in South Africa – we call them FUNda Leaders – everyday ordinary people who have signed up with Nal’ibali to create opportunities for children in their lives to fall in love with books.”

“I’d also like to dedicate this award to my fierce and fabulous team of fellow Nal’ibalians who are immersed on a daily basis in the hardships of social inequality and poverty, as they fight to give children the best chance they can get of rising out of it. The ability to read with understanding” lauded Jacobsohn.  

She concluded with the formidable words of Nelson Mandela, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. The foundation of education is literacy.’ 

The international jury applauded Nal’ibali for its long-term impact and influence on local communities in South Africa and for parents in particular, who have become role models for their children’s reading habits. They complimented Nal’ibali’s framework that creates a nurturing environment, as well as generating the assortment of multilingual reading materials, so that children from all age groups, can learn to love reading in the many mother tongues spoken in South Africa. 

This international recognition award comes with a prize of $10 000 which will go towards stocking up Nal’ibali’s newly launched mobile libraries for Story Power in Motion, ensuring both children and adults have access to great stories in their home languages.

How do you think schools could be improved?

You’ll note that the last sentence ‘…says access to stories in their home languages’. This is a debate that rages on, and is relevant as we have 11 languages here in SA, including English and Afrikaans, of whom only about 8% have English & Afrikaans as home languages. Which means that when black children enter into school and are taught in English, they are already back footed. This apart from education still being for the most part barely up to scratch in spite of SA spending the most worldwide on education and yet having an abysmal record.

You ask how I think schools could be improved. Literacy begins long before schooling. Children could be encouraged to read firstly which allows for the imagination to come into play. Einstein, when asked by parents how they could help their children become clever like he was, he replied ‘Read them fairy stories, and read them more stories’.

Later on they can develop critical thinking skills. Chess would be a good subject to learn. Schools could encourage the art subjects more and I read that this is being encouraged around the world in order to develop both sides of the brain. Each side enhances the other.

School days, reminiscences of Susan Scott

There could be more time for the playground, away from the confines of the classroom. They could learn to tend to a vegetable patch. They could see Nature in action more, e.g. the worms in the soil, or the ants, birds, butterflies and bees going about their business.

It is as well that schools have rules and regulations of which parents and children are aware. From this basis they can break the rules, when they have the critical skills to do so.

Schools should provide safe and secure places of learning where children have no fear of being attacked and bullied by fellow classmates and/or teachers.

There could be skilled social workers or psychologists on hand to attend to any child or teenager who appears to be suffering from problems at home and with whom the child or teenager feels safe in revealing their problems.

Quality education for all requires the support of government, schools, civil society, NGOs, families, communities and funders.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Susan. It’s been wonderful to have you here. I especially enjoyed reading about Nal’ibali, the national reading-for-enjoyment campaign. While I agree with the improvements you suggest for education, I am disappointed to hear that your schools days were not so enjoyable and that you were bullied in school. The situation that you describe existing in many schools is also something that none of us anywhere can be proud of when education should be universal.

Find out more about Susan Scott

on her blog: Garden of Eden Blog

Connect with her on social media

Facebook: Susan Scott – Author

Twitter: Susan Scott

 

Purchase your own copy of Susan’s books:

Books by Susan Scott

In Praise of Lilith, Eve & the Serpent in the Garden of Eden & Other Stories

 Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry

 

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

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

Coming soon:

Barbara Vitelli

Sherri Matthews

Mabel Kwong

Chelsea Owens

Pete Springer

Carol Taylor

with more to follow.

Thank you blog post

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

 

School Days Reminiscences of Darlene Foster

School Days, Reminiscences of Darlene Foster

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 Darlene Foster, world traveller and writer of travel adventure books for children and adventurers of all ages. Darlene joined in the conversations about school days from the beginning and was keen to share her own reminiscences with you.

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

Growing up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, Darlene Foster dreamt of writing, travelling the world, and meeting interesting people. She also believed in making her dreams come true. It’s no surprise she’s now the award-winning author of Amanda Travels, a children’s adventure series featuring a spunky twelve-year-old who loves to travel to unique places.  Readers of all ages enjoy following Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another. When not travelling herself, Darlene divides her time between the west coast of Canada and the Costa Blanca, Spain with her husband and entertaining dog, Dot.

Darlene Foster and her books

Welcome, Darlene.

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

Until grade 4, I attended a small rural school in the Canadian prairies, Hilda, Alberta, in which one teacher taught two grades. Then we moved to another rural community, Irvine, Alberta, where I attended a much larger school with separate grades including high school for the rest of my school days.

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

These were government schools, which we call public schools in Canada.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

I left school in Grade 11 so did not graduate with my classmates. I did however complete high school via correspondence. I took many college courses over the years and when I turned fifty, I graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a Diploma in Teaching English as a Second Language, via distant learning. I also acquired a number of Certificates in Human Resource Management and Job Search Facilitation. I believe in lifelong learning and will continue taking courses for the rest of my life.

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

I worked in retail management, recruitment, employment counselling and as an ESL Teacher, all as a result of courses I have taken. I have also taken many writing courses over the years, including university-level courses, which have been very beneficial to me now as a writer.

Darlene Fosters's earliest memory of school

What is your earliest memory of school? 

I remember the first day I walked into the classroom. I thought I was in heaven, all those books and so much to learn. I was like a sponge, thirsty for knowledge. I loved school from before I even started and could easily have been a professional student. Even now when I walk into a classroom for an author presentation, I get that same feeling of awe.

What memories do you have of learning to read?

I could read a bit before I started school. I recall my dad reading the comics, which we called the funny papers, in the weekly newspaper with me. That may have been how I started to read. I loved the Dick and Jane readers at school and being able to read a story on my own was so exciting.

What memories do you have of learning to write?

I recall that being able to print was great but when I learned cursive writing, I was delighted. My writing was very neat and tidy for the first couple of years and I even won prizes for it. Then I started to write stories of my own and my writing couldn’t keep up with my thoughts and ideas. It soon became very messy, but I just had to get it all down on paper. It is totally unreadable now. Thank heaven for computers.

What do you remember about math classes?

Math classes were OK but not my favourite. I always had to work harder on math but still got good marks. I do recall enjoying algebra though, while everyone else hated it. Proof that I am a letters person, not a numbers person.

What was your favourite subject? 

It was a tie between English Literature, Social Studies and Drama.

what Darlene Foster liked best about school

What did you like best about school?

Learning new things and the teachers. My grade three teacher, in particular, was amazing. She taught us about other countries by getting us involved. When we learned about Mexico she gave us Spanish names, cooked Mexican food for us and brought in colourful serapes and sombreros for us to wear. She instilled in me the desire to travel and see the world. She also encouraged me to write my stories down. I will be forever grateful to her.

I was an odd child and actually enjoyed taking tests. When we moved, the school season had already started by two months and I had started grade 5 at the old school. I was so excited about going to what I considered a much more modern school. It was a day the class was taking a provincial pre-packaged test and there wasn’t a package for me. I was devastated that I couldn’t take the test and actually cried. The other students thought I was crazy as they would have happily given up doing the test.

Darlene Foster reminiscences of school days

What did you like least about school? 

Physical Training. I was never good at sports and was always the last to be picked for a team. I came up with all kinds of excuses not to participate and was often sick on P.T. day. And those awful bloomers we had to wear! One wise teacher gave me the job of being the scorekeeper, which I enjoyed.

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

Since it has been a long time since I went to school, they have obviously changed, a lot. They have changed since my own kids went to school. The biggest change is the use of technology of course. I love those whiteboards that act as a computer screen. They are like magic. There is much more positive reinforcement and focus on diversity and individuality today. I like the fact that school is less formal and more relaxed. We couldn’t even wear pants (trousers) to school and had to wear skirts even on -40C days. Now they even have pyjama days!

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

As a writer, I often visit schools to do readings and I am very impressed with schools today. The students are so eager to learn and proud of their accomplishments. There seems to be an emphasis on reading and creative activities which is so good to see. Children respond to learning if it is fun and there is no reason for it not to be. Personally, I would love to be a student in today’s schools.

Darlene Foster reminiscences of school days

How do you think schools could be improved?

I do think teachers are often overworked. It is a demanding job and one in which you have to be on all the time. Many get burned out which is too bad as it is often the most dedicated that do. Perhaps hiring more assistants or having smaller classes would help. It is such an important job as these kids are our future.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Darlene. It’s a pleasure to have you here. I especially love that you are excited about learning and particularly being a life-long learner. I enjoyed reading your positive views about schools today.

Find out more about Darlene Foster

On her website: http://www.darlenefoster.ca/

On her blog: https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/

Or her Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3156908.Darlene_Foster

Connect with Darlene on social media

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

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/supermegawoman

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/darlene6490/

Books by Darlene Foster

Purchase your own copies of Darlene’s books 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

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

Coming soon:

Susan Scott

Barbara Vitelli

Sherri Matthews

Mabel Kwong

Chelsea Owens

Pete Springer

with more to follow.

Thank you blog post

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

 

 

School Days, Reminiscences of Joy Lennick

School Days, Reminiscences of Joy Lennick

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 Joy Lennick, author and poet. Joy joined in the conversations from the outset, sharing snippets from her war-time schooldays. Intrigued to learn more, I invited Joy to join in with a post dedicated to her own reminiscences and she accepted. I’m certain you’ll find them as interesting as I do.

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

From a young age, I was never happier than when reading or writing (and perhaps dancing!). I was evacuated with my two brothers to live on a mountain (Hare) in Wales, being half Welsh on my mother’s side, and grew to love Wales. My education was completed in Pitman’s College, London, from the last year of the war. At fifteen, I became a shorthand-typist, and worked for an agency in the East and West ends of London, which I really enjoyed.

After marriage just before the age of 21, and living in London for a few years, the Suez Crisis debacle flared up and petrol was so short and the atmosphere so “war-like,” we set sail for Canada, where we lived and worked for eighteen, unforgettable, months.

Returning to the UK due to home-sickness…in 1960 I had my first son, followed by No.2 in 1962 and No.3 in 1968. I contracted but beat cancer, so was very lucky. We then ran a green-grocery/grocery store for several years. After its sale, and the children went to school, I returned to work in the city as secretary to the two editors of Kaye & Ward, an old established publishing company in the city. (My dream job!)

The next chapter saw us buying a small hotel in Bournemouth as we both enjoyed cooking and people. We turned a dark, mean place into a thriving business, I lost a stone (yippee) and gained a few muscles, and we thoroughly enjoyed the whole business, even though it was hard work.  Tastes were changing and the hotel was old. We needed more cash than we had to make it more comfortable, so – with regret, sold it and returned to Essex to live. And that is when I learned about “Serendipity,” and became a writer, quite by chance.

A letter from Kogan Page Ltd of London “commissioned” me (?!) to write a book for them, subject to approval of the first two chapters. I couldn’t wait! “Running Your Own Small Hotel” was approved. I had been recommended by one of the editors I’d worked for who had read some of my poetry and an article I’d had published. The book did well and went to reprint. There was even an exciting “Authors’ party,” and I updated two of their books and wrote a second called “Jobs in Baking and Confectionery,” which also sold well.

In between working for my local junior school, part-time, I then ran a modest, while successful poetry club, and wrote a few poems and articles, which were published. I also received a few rejection letters…par for the course!

Fast forward too many years, and we retired to Spain, I joined The Torrevieja Writing group and won the first Torrevieja International Short Story competition with a Time Traveller tale called “Worth its Salt,” then was a writing judge for two years.

Next came a memoir: “My Gentle War” which went to No.1 in Kindle’s Social History and Memoir category. A true sea adventure story: “Hurricane Halsey” followed, then my only novel “The Catalyst,” covering one of the terrorist bombings of a train in London in 2005, but with fictitious characters. I also wrote several stories which were included in WordPlay’s anthologies – later called Writers’ Ink (our off-shoot Ezine is called INK SPOT). Then came “Where Angels and Devils Tread,” a collection of short stories written with author friend Jean Wilson; and a modest collection of jokes and humorous poems written with my husband, Eric: “The Moon is Wearing a Tutu.” I also edited husband’s book “A Life Worth Living,” and updated “From the Prairies to Paschendeale,” for a friend. I am at present working on a book about the “Dombrowski family.”

I took a Creative Writing class for the U3A for several years and am in the “Chair” for Writers’ Ink here in Spain.

Joy Lennick and her books

Welcome, Joy.

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

Where did you go to school?

1937: Dagenham Infants school

1939: Twynrodyn Junior School

1941: Hunters Hall school

1943: Eastbrook senior school, Long Eaton senior school, Derbyshire

1944: Neath senior school

1944: Pitman’s College, London.

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

All Government schools, except Pitman’s College, London, which was private.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

Highest level: Pitman’s where I received various certificates for hand-writing/typing/shorthand and commerce.

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

I started as a shorthand-typist, became assistant secretary and then secretary. Also assisted husband in running a greengrocery/grocery shop and became a hotelier.  I was then a Dinner Lady/School assistant and did voluntary work with the elderly before writing professionally.

What is your earliest memory of school?

My earliest memory at Infants school was writing my name in sand on a shallow tray and playing the triangle and the tambourine in the school band.

What memories do you have of learning to read?

I was immediately fascinated by the letters and words on a page and took to reading straight away. I read anything and everything: ingredients on cereal boxes, comics, etc., and was always lucky enough to be given books for my birthdays. I joined the library in MerthyrTydfil and devoured books from age seven — Hans Christian Anderson and the frightening Bros. Grimm, et al.

What memories do you have of learning to write?

As for writing, my father was a keen letter-writer (positive views on many subjects to the local newspaper) and wrote beautiful Calligraphy which I greatly admired and wanted to emulate. He kept stamps and made a few admirable displays with delicate work around each stamp. I was proud to be told I had a “good hand!” and of my hand-writing certificate. Shorthand later made it a bit scruffier…

What do you remember about math classes?

I had a problem with maths. Adding, subtracting, decimals and fractions was coped with OK but  if I was thrown a maths ‘puzzler’ I’d freeze…I coped fine when we had our shop, and did the accounts when we ran the hotel as it was comparatively straight-forward, but I much preferred English.

What was your favourite subject?

Most definitely English, and because of the very nature of war — between the years 1939,when it  began and 1945 when it ended, there were, periodically, huge disruptions in my schooling,  especially when the siren sounded. At such times, we were read to and had to ‘Read quietly!’ by ourselves, which I found a joy. I also loved composing stories and enjoyed spelling. I even wrote a silly play which was acted on the stage. Poetry also pleased my young ears. I was particularly fond of Hiawatha because of the delightful rhythm. I couldn’t take to Shakespeare when young but loved it later when, at the ripe age of 66 I finally took and passed the English Literature exam – much to the amusement of my younger peers…

Joy Lennick at age 4

What did you like best about school?

I made friends quite easily, despite being shy and was a chatter-box, in spite of the annoying habit of blushing if a boy spoke to me. In fact, I blushed a lot as I was often unsure of myself, but always enjoyed having friends at school. There was so much to learn, and I have always been a curious person. I was lucky in that I was never bullied and got on with most children, and was also fortunate with  the teachers, except for my maths teacher at Pitman’s who had no patience with my many questions…Miss Jones, my English and Games teacher at Pitman’s was my favourite.

What did you like least about school?

To be fair, the mores of the times were dictated by the state of the whole world, as very little was as ‘normal’ as in peace time. Some children were killed or injured and lost loved ones and air raids disrupted many classes, especially in London, Coventry, Norwich and many other towns. We children went back-wards and forwards to home and Wales several times in between the bombing for long weekends and holidays. And when I attended Eastbrook senior school in Dagenham, the bombing increased and the whole school was evacuated to Long Eaton in Derbyshire. It must have been a nightmare for the teachers to keep to a curriculum!

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

There is no comparison between my schooldays and those of my three sons. Only one was bullied because he was more studious and wouldn’t join an unruly gang. Fortunately, the headmaster sorted it out. All three received a fair and satisfactory education. I have no grand- children to comment on present conditions but do have friends who were teachers. They both complained about the increased paper-work, which – apparently – is an ongoing problem for teachers today.

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

From my ten years working as a Dinner Lady and reading/poetry assistant in a junior school, I’d say that, over-all, today’s children are in pretty safe hands, education-wise. The technological strides forward are amazing, and I’m personally pleased to see more musical appreciation and tuition being introduced in some schools

How do you think schools could be improved?

It’s no secret there are a lot of problems in the world, generally – of course there always have been – but because of technology and the immediacy of news reaching eyes and ears, it is often exaggerated in our minds. Too much paper-work still seems to overload some teachers, and I wish there was more emphasis put on caring for each other. Not all parents are equipped for the job they undertook…(as my husband says: ‘You have to pass a test to drive a car, but any idiot can have a child…’ Religion should be discussed broadly, but taught and practiced in specific schools,  not mainstream, although children should be helped to accept and live and let live, when taught about caring.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Joy. How disruptive your schooling was as a result of the war. You seem to have overcome any obstacles that it may have created. It’s been a pleasure to have you here and get to know you and learn about your school days and your achievements.

Find out more about Joy Lennick

Website: https://joylennick.wordpress.com/

Contact her at joylennick@gmail.com

Or connect with her on social media

Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, Writers’ Ink

also a member of Authors/Bloggers Rainbow Support Club on Facebook

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

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

Darlene Foster

Susan Scott

Barbara Vitelli

Mabel Kwong

Sherri Matthews

Chelsea Owens

Pete Springer

with more to follow.

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