Tag Archives: education

Library For All - a Force for Equality through Literacy

Library For All — a Force for Equality through Literacy – readilearn

What is Library For All?

Library For All is an Australian not for profit organisation with a mission to “make knowledge accessible to all, equally” through a digital library of books that is available free to anyone anywhere in the world. The focus is on providing high quality, engaging, age appropriate and culturally relevant books to children in developing countries and remote areas.

Who can access Library For All?

Library For All found that, even in “communities where history, poverty or remoteness are everyday barriers to accessing knowledge”, many children have access to mobile phones, e-tablets and readers. Recognising this, the digital library was created which allows children anywhere to freely access reading material through the app, available in the Google Play Store on any Android device.

Teachers can also use the app with children in their classrooms. What a great way of accessing a range of culturally diverse books from simple beginning stories to chapter books.

In addition to their availability on locally owned smart phones and tablets, through the support of development organisations around the world, the books are available to many schools and communities in developing countries and remote areas through the Spark Digital Library Kits.

Continue reading: Library For All — a Force for Equality through Literacy – readilearn

How Schools Could Be Improved

How Schools Could Be Improved

In the recent School Days series which featured reminiscences of twenty-five authors and bloggers, each was asked for suggestions of improvements that could be made to schools.

In this post, I share those suggestions. If you wish to read more of the authors and bloggers’ works, please click on their names to follow the links. If you would like to read their reminiscences, follow this link.

This post concludes the series for now. I thank you all for joining in the conversation. I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion. There are still some who would like to share their reminiscences which I will post as they come in on a Sunday evening. For now, I’ll leave you with these wonderful suggestions of how school could be improved. (Note: I have arranged the bloggers in alphabetical order of first name.)

Anne Goodwin, How do you think school could be improved?

  1. Reinvest in SureStart (it was a UK New Labour thing for at-risk preschoolers) so that all kids have the skills they need for school.
  2. Scrap private schools’ charitable status and put the taxes raised into state education.
  3. Abolish all religious schools, and schools established to follow a particular fad.
  4. Provide every child with a light breakfast and a three-course vegan lunch (to avoid the expense of catering for different diets) for free. Kids can’t learn if they’re hungry, and we desperately need to give the adults of tomorrow the skills to pursue a healthy diet. (So cooking and gardening lessons too.)
  5. Halve class sizes, and give teachers more support, including optional counselling / short-term therapy for anyone working with kids.
  6. Foreign language and music classes from the early(ish) years and (although I hated it) compulsory exercise through a diversity of sports. (Why should these life-long benefits be restricted to those whose parents can cough up the dosh?)
  7. Prevent (religious) parents from withdrawing their children from certain lessons, such as sex and relationships, including same-sex couples.

Idealistic? Too expensive? Not if we care about the future society we build.

Balroop Singh, How do you think schools could be improved?

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

Barbara Vitelli, How do you think schools could be improved?

I would like to see approaches that encourage resiliency and independence. I think kids need to learn how to better handle disappointments and adversity. Perhaps that’s something that we parents are responsible for, but I think teachers can also make a big impact on our children in this area.

Carol Taylor, How do you think schools could be improved?

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.

Charli Mills, How do you think schools could be improved?

Most important, schools need to be safe. Early on, we need to give children the gifts of education and not the burdens. I think citizens should be involved in their public schools even if they don’t have children. How can we be part of the improvement? I don’t have the answers, but I’m willing to be a part of solutions. I support EveryTown for Gun Safety, and until we deal with the hardest cultural issues in our nation, it doesn’t matter if our schools achieve awards or graduate students who score well on tests.

Chelsea Owens, How do you think schools could be improved?

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.

Christy Birmingham, How do you think schools could be improved?

By listening to students, no matter their age. Hear what students want to see change about your school and determine if it’s feasible. Also, make libraries a priority as they are where students go to do research and can encourage a love of literacy.

Lastly, engage with the local community rather than being independent of it as a school. By schools partnering with the communities they’re nestled within, students can enjoy a fuller educational experience. Also, schools can get ideas and support from the general community that can take the institutions further than they might otherwise go.

Darlene Foster, 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.

Debby Gies, How do you think schools could be improved?

They could definitely use more government funding, more teachers, more after school programs, and more benefits for the children whose families can’t afford supplies and books for their kids, and for field trips.

D. Avery, How do you think schools could be improved?

Our schools don’t always seem to measure up, but what is the measure? Not everyone is measuring up to standardized tests, but if we really want to close achievement gaps, if we really want to leave no children behind then we need to reform much more than our schools.

While I think we should first focus on out of school factors, within school we have to do more than give lip service to Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences. Which means schools need to not succumb to the testing culture; schools need to be less programmatic and prescriptive. Curricula should encourage empathy and build flexible and adaptive skills and strategies required for individuals to pursue their own interests and inclinations. Schools should be creative safe havens that sustain a sense of wonder and curiosity.

Geoff Le Pard, How do you think schools could be improved?

They can spend more time educating and less teaching. The tyranny of the curriculum is one of teaching’s greatest challenges. The notion that if you learn to a script and regurgitate that script and you will succeed is one of life’s top five fictions; no actor worth their salt merely delivers a script – they have to understand it, live it, get beneath and inside it. That is precisely the same with learning. Get beneath the surface, go round the back, take off the lid and see the workings and that way so much joy will be had and so many avenues will be opened. Good education acknowledges the world is round and that all we can ever do is proceed to the next horizon and see what’s there; bad teachers are education’s flat earthers.

Hugh Roberts, How do you think schools could be improved?

More needs to be done in educating children about diversity and the hate crimes we hear so much about nowadays. 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. Children should be encouraged to read about different ways of lives and to speak out about bullying. As a child who was bullied at school, my life was made much worse because I was afraid to tell an adult what was happening. These were the days before social media where bullying and hate crimes have now taken up residence. Children, these days, have a lot more to put up with, but I think there are also more bullies these days than there were when I was at school.

Joy Lennick, 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.

JulesPaige, How do you think schools could be improved?

Public Schools need to prepare our children by starting language in the early grades and not waiting until older grades. Special language immersion classes were available in later years (of my children’s schools) for a select amount of students who were selected by a lottery. Public Schools also need to make sure basic math and estimation skills are taught without the assistance of calculators or iPads. Public schools also need to encourage acceptance of differences.

If you choose to send your child to a public school, then you need to accept the parameters set therein. Public Schools also need to keep religion out of the schools. And if vaccines are a requirement, there should be no exceptions. Just one unvaccinated child can bring disease to a whole school population.

Mabel Kwong, How do you think 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.

Marsha Ingrao, How do you think schools could be improved?

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

Miriam Hurdle, How do you think schools could be improved?

At elementary school, there is not enough time of the day to teach all the subject to prepare the students for Junior High or High school. Schools end at 2:30 p.m. for lower grade and 2:45 p.m. for upper grade. For lower grades, teachers teach reading and math in the morning. After lunch, they may teach social studies and physical education. There is no time to teach science. Since the State test at the end of the year doesn’t test science, the teachers give up on teaching that subject.

For upper grade, teachers teach reading and math in their homeroom. Some of them team teach social studies and science so the teacher could do the preparation and teach for more than one class. Students can benefit more learning if the school days are longer.

Pamela Wight, 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.

Pauline King, How do you think schools could be improved? 

I’d love to see a return to a balanced education that includes academia and the arts and life skills.  I’d love to see each classroom be a living community where all kinds of kids learn to get along, learn to appreciate each other and learn that not everyone is good at everything.  But that everyone, even the least able, has a skill and a personality that offers much.  Where tolerance is taught and practised, and respect is modelled and expected.  A place where different cultures and different beliefs are seen as interesting and intriguing and when it’s all boiled down, people are people and we all feel the same way over the things that matter.

I’d like to see geography and social studies and all kinds of real arts and crafts come back to life in the classroom, I’d like to see kids singing and dancing and playing together in between learning the Three R’s.  I’d like to see the slow expansion of a planned curriculum that ensures a deepening understanding of the natural sciences — again attached to the developmental stages and understanding of the students.  Never bring hard facts too soon to young people — they kill childhood!

I’d like everyone to understand that we live in a world that is changing so quickly that it is highly likely the jobs their kids will do haven’t yet been invented.  The only way to ensure their children will succeed as adults is that they will have a healthily developed sense of themselves, their interests and their abilities and be able to think, to assess, to understand the needs of the world and to have the entrepreneurial spirit to meet them.  It’s less about passing exams and more about an ability to learn; less about gaining the skills for a job, more about gaining an ability to learn new skills.

Pete SpringerHow do you think 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!  

Ritu Bhathal, How do you think schools could be improved? 

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

Robbie Cheadle, How do you think schools could be improved?

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

Sally Cronin, How do you think schools could be improved?

I feel that there is a one size fits all approach to education which does not take into account the individual child’s needs or abilities. In the UK in particular there has been a push in the last decade to get children into university, and the loss of technical colleges (now rebranded as universities) that I went to for those who want a more practical approach to their careers. Also I believe that there should be a push for more apprenticeships and that some children who want to follow that route should be allowed to leave school at 14 as long as they are going into an approved apprenticeship. I understand that is happening in Australia and I think it should also be introduced in the UK and Ireland and other countries.

Sherri Matthews, How do you think 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.

Susan Scott, 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.

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 blog post

Thank you for reading. I’m sure you’ll agree there are many words of wisdom and great suggestions included in these responses. Now, if only we could get those with the power to take note.

I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

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.

 

great app for teaching reading - Word Zoo

Great App for Future Readers: Word Zoo | Ask a Tech Teacher – readilearn

This week I am pleased to share with you information about a new reading app, Word Zoo, reviewed by Jacqui Murray on her website Ask a Tech Teacher. If you need to know anything about using technology in the classroom, Jacqui will be able to help you out.

Over to you, Jacqui:

Reading is defined as “the action or skill of absorbing written or printed matter silently or aloud.” Sounds dry, maybe even boring, but the ability to read has been credited with exercising the mind, saving lives, bringing people together, and predicting success in school. It alleviates boredom in the bits of free time that pop up between soccer and dinner and it can be done alone or in a group.

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends…”
― Charles William Eliot

So when I find an app that organically encourages reading, I get excited. But I’m fussy. Here’s what I look for–the red answers are how this mystery ready app sized up:

Continue reading: Great App for Future Readers: Word Zoo | Ask a Tech Teacher – readilearn

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

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Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. 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 JulesPaige

School Days, Reminiscences of JulesPaige

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 JulesPaige, poet, flash fiction artist and creator of gems that sparkle on the page.

I met Jules at the Carrot Ranch where we both participate in flash fiction challenges set by Charli Mills each week. Jules is one of the most engaged and supportive participants. She always has something encouraging to say and is quick to offer helpful advice when a request is made.

We have wonderful conversations about education, parenting and grandparenting on her frequent visits here. I think we would have a lot of fun entertaining our grandchildren together, if only we lived closer.

Before we begin the interview, Jules will tell you a little of herself:

I use the nom-de-plume JulesPaige because words are like jewels on a page. I am a poet for over fifty years, writer of flash fiction, and crafty creative person. More than less retired and love learning, but on my own terms. I have included a shadow photo as I wish, at this time, to remain anonymous.

I’ve had poetry included in school and college literary magazines. Poetry has also been accepted in chapbooks, the local newspaper, and online zines and linked to both poetry and flash fiction prompt sites. Recently I earned two first places and an honorable mention in Flash fiction contests via Carrot Ranch. Some of my stories feature in The Congress of Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Vol 1.

I am an active participant in several prompts for Flash Fiction and poetry:

Carrot Ranch

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie

Pure Haiku

Thanks, Jules, and welcome. Let’s talk school.

 First, could you tell us where you attended school?

New York and New Jersey, USA.

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

All public schools. The last being a two-year community college that I paid my own tuition for.

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

The profession I choose was Early Childhood Education Assistant. I did not want to go into business or be in the same classes of a sibling who chose the arts. I wanted to help children with their educational beginnings.

What is your earliest memory of school?

I remember being in a kindergarten class and wanting to play house, I didn’t get too many turns there. Then in first grade I ended up in the same room with the same teacher – who apparently didn’t like me. Since during the first days of class she allowed me to play in the housekeeping section that had not yet been restocked. I don’t have many memories of early school. I had a family tragedy and withdrew from getting attention which ended up getting me labeled as ‘slow’.

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

I do not have all that many early memories of school. But since I was labeled ‘slow’, my stepmom made it a point to help me learn to read by reading to me every night. Perhaps in 5th grade I was in what was called an intermediate school. That was when I was around ten. That’s when I had a couple of English teachers who encouraged creative writing. At that time in the late 1960’s in that school, creativity was more of a focus than basics. So my math and grammar skills are lacking.

What did you like best and least about school?

I was always the new student at my schools. The odd one out and did not have many friends even in High School. No bonds were made in College. I liked my art classes. I did not like the negative or lack support of either my parents or most of my teachers. I only had a select few teachers that encouraged my creative avenues. While I attended the same High School for all four years 9-12, we moved mid-way through, which made seeing the friends I had difficult, and left no chance of participating in any after school programs.

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

I am not entirely sure that public schools have changed for the better. While addressing bullying, special health needs and catering to highly intelligent prodigies… there still lacks a complete need to address all children with equal fairness. This is from the experience of raising my own children in the local public school system and having to invoke my ‘Parental Rights’ for my own children’s needs. The Parental rights to fair education is not something that the schools promote. I found out about them through another friend who was a teacher.

How do you think schools could be improved?

Public Schools need to prepare our children by starting language in the early grades and not waiting until older grades. Special language immersion classes were available in later years (of my children’s schools) for a select amount of students who were selected by a lottery. Public Schools also need to make sure basic math and estimation skills are taught without the assistance of calculators or iPads. Public schools also need to encourage acceptance of differences.

If you choose to send your child to a public school, then you need to accept the parameters set therein. Public Schools also need to keep religion out of the schools. And if vaccines are a requirement, there should be no exceptions. Just one unvaccinated child can bring disease to a whole school population.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Jules. It’s been wonderful to have you here. I am sorry that your school days were not the most pleasant for you, but I am happy to know that you have done what you can to ensure the school days for your own children and others were more positive. It is always encouraging to hear stories of negative cycles being broken.

Read more of Jules’ work on her blog Jules Pens Some Gems.

If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here:

Charli Mills

Sally Cronin

Anne Goodwin

Geoff Le Pard

Hugh Roberts

Debby Gies

Pauline King

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

Coming soon:

D. Avery

Christy Birmingham

Miriam Hurdle

Susan Scott

with more to follow.

Thank you blog post

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