Tag Archives: learning

School Days, Reminiscences of Kevin Cooper

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my author and blogger friends share reminiscences of their school days.

This week, I am pleased to introduce Kevin Cooper, author, songwriter and blogger. Kevin took a keen interest in the reminiscences previously shared by others and I am delighted that he agreed to share his own.

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

Kevin Cooper is an Author & Songwriter. After years of studying, and even more, years working in education, and management in the US, he returned to his hometown in England where he finally settled down to focus on his writing and music. He has since authored several works and recorded/released his first full music album.

Kevin Cooper obtained an M.Ed in Secondary Education at Grand Canyon University.  He also did some post-graduate studies in Christian Counselling and Psychopathology at Asbury Theological Seminary. He completed his baccalaureate studies in Psychology with a minor in Classical Greek from Asbury College after devoting his first two years to studying Music Composition, and Religion at Western Kentucky University.

Welcome, Kevin.

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

I went to school in England and left high school at 16 years of age with only three CSE’s. (Now called GCSE’s) After I turned 21, I emigrated to the USA and started studying again.

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

In England, all the schools I attended were government schools which were very much under the influence of the ‘social class’ system back then. I also attended a state school in Kentucky after moving to the US and studied for GED to pave my way into university. I attended one state university: WKU for two years and then transferred to Asbury College. After graduating, I attended Asbury Theological Seminary for two years before moving again and enrolling in The Grand Canyon University where I received a fellowship.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

M.Ed in Secondary Education. My teaching subject is English.

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

I started out as a class tutor after being approached by a couple of professors. Later I did some private tutoring and substitute teaching. I obtained a part-time position as a music teacher for a short while then went into management for a Fortune 500 company and also obtained a part-time lecturer position for general studies. While I look back upon my years as an educator with fondness, I never set out, nor intended to become an educator. My passion was to become a clinical psychologist, but I allowed myself to be steered away from it.

What is your earliest memory of school?

Singing, All Things Bright and Beautiful in assembly at Marfleet Primary School. I loved the song from the first time I heard it and learned it quickly as it resonated with me as I played in my grandma’s gardens.

What memories do you have of learning to read?

Reading Dick and Jane books with Spot the dog.

What memories do you have of learning to write?

Graduating from printing words to joining the letters of the alphabet while writing. I found it intriguing.

What do you remember about math classes?

I hated math. The only time I enjoyed it was when we were given a project to take note of the different kinds of vehicles that passed us on the road and create a chart.

What was your favourite subject?

Kevin Cooper school days reminiscences

 History. I became entranced with the stories of inventors. Especially those like George Stephenson who were from poor families and told they would never amount to anything as a child.

What did you like best about school?

As a child, getting away from home. As an adult, I couldn’t get enough of learning new things.

What did you like least about school?

Kevin Cooper school days reminiscences

As a child, being bullied even though upon reflection this was short-lived for me because I began to fight back after a while. Even so, it still had a profound influence on my mental state which was already a mess from being part of a dysfunctional family. As an adult, studying for exams. I loved research projects and writing term papers, but hated standardised exams with multiple choice and true/false questions.

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

I think here in England there is more equality and less of a social class stigma these days. Although looking upon it almost as an outsider having lived in the USA the good part of 20 years, I could be mistaken.

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

I think schools follow curricula activities very well, unfortunately, these are not always mandated by the schools.

How do you think schools could be improved?

Kevin Cooper school days reminiscences

First, there needs to be a far larger budget for schools in England. Class sizes need to be reduced and all teachers should have at least one assistant.

There needs to be some kind of weekly after-school mandate for parents and teachers to educate and address current/ongoing issues that affect learning.  Schools should have specially assigned social workers in the schools that teachers can go to for advice and support as they are not equipped to deal with some issues. Schools also need to have a school psychologist on site.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Kevin. I agree with your thoughts about the budget for education, class sizes and assistants for teachers. It’s been wonderful to have you here. I’m sure others have enjoyed learning about you as much as I have.

Find out more about Kevin Cooper

On his blog:

https://authorkevincooper.com/

On his author page:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00EWFEYKQ

Connect with him on social media

https://www.facebook.com/authorkevcooper

https://twitter.com/KevinCo34737852

Purchase Kevin’s Books:

https://authorkevincooper.com/my-books/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00EWFEYKQ

Purchase Kevin’s Music:

https://authorkevincooper.com/my-music/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCf2xhbZpatTr4NwhxZwWN7Q

https://soundcloud.com/user-17880724

School Days, Reminiscences of the first 25

If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here: School Days Reminiscences – the first 25.

You can also read some data drawn from the posts here, and some suggestions for how schools could be improved, as suggested by the contributors, here.

Any new interviews will be posted here on a Sunday evening AEST as they are received.

Thank you blog post

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

 

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 Carol Taylor

School Days, Reminiscences of Carol Taylor

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications.

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

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

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

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

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

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

introducing Carol Taylor

Welcome, Carol.

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

Carol Taylor in class photo

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

I then progressed to Tottenham Technical College before starting work…

What is your earliest memory of school?

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

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

Carol Taylor explains her love of reading

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

What was your favourite subject?

Carol Taylor enjoys playing piano

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

What do you remember about math classes?

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

What other memories do you have of school?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

Carol Taylor's thirst for learning and inquisitive mind

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

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

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

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

How do you think schools could be improved?

Carol Taylor's suggestions for improving schools

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

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

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

Carol Taylor on what schools do well

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

thank you for your participation

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

Find out more about Carol Taylor

on her blog: https://carolcooks2.com/

and connect with her on social media

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/TheRealCarolT

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

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

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology:

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

If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here:

Charli Mills

Sally Cronin

Anne Goodwin

Geoff Le Pard

Hugh Roberts

Debby Gies

Pauline King

JulesPaige

D. Avery

Christy Birmingham

Miriam Hurdle

Robbie Cheadle

Marsha Ingrao

Ritu Bhathal

Joy Lennick

Darlene Foster

Susan Scott

Barbara Vitelli

Sherri Matthews

Mabel Kwong

Chelsea Owens

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

Pamela Wight

Pete Springer

Yvette Prior

Colleen Chesebro

Thank you blog post

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

 

Would you like strawberries with that

Would you like strawberries with that?

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

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

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge strawberries and mint

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

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

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

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

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

Grandma’s Garden

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

They dipped strawberries in chocolate and garnished them with mint.

“For Jess?”

“For Mum.

“Birfday?”

“Just —”

Jess inspected the chocolate bowl. “All gone.”

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

“For Jess,” smiled Grandma.

Jess munched strawberries and Grandma chewed mint.

Thank you blog post

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

 

 

School Days reminiscences of Sally Cronin

School Days, Reminiscences of Sally Cronin

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 Sally Cronin, author, blogger and supreme supporter of authors and bloggers. Sally is a prolific writer on numerous topics on her blog and in her publications. She seems to have an infinite capacity for supporting other writers with guest posts, reviews, blog visits and comments, and shares on social media. I am constantly in awe of her output and the esteem in which she is held and I am very grateful for the support she provides me in the online world.

I am especially pleased with the timing of Sally’s interview as today 17 March is St Patrick’s Day and Sally is Irish! She even has a lovely book of Tales from the Irish Garden, published late last year.

Tales from the Irish Garden by Sally Cronin

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

I have lived a fairly nomadic existence living in eight countries including Sri Lanka, South Africa and the USA before settling back here in Ireland. My work, and a desire to see some of the most beautiful parts of the world in the last forty years, has taken me to many more incredible destinations around Europe and Canada, and across the oceans to New Zealand and Hawaii. All those experiences and the people that I have met, provide a rich source of inspiration for my stories.

After a long and very happy career, I took the step to retrain as a nutritional therapist, a subject that I was very interested in, and to make the time to write my first book. Size Matters was a health and weight loss book based on my own experiences of losing 70kilo. I have written another eleven books since then on health and also fiction including three collections of short stories. I am an indie author and proud to be one. My greatest pleasure comes from those readers who enjoy my take on health, characters and twisted endings… and of course come back for more.

Welcome, Sally.

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

Portsmouth UK (3), Malta, Cape Town South Africa, Preston UK,

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

All the schools were government.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

Diplomas in Secretarial Studies and a Diploma in Nutritional Therapy.

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

I started as a secretary in a dental practice but within a few months started training as a dental nurse which I found more interesting.

What is you earliest memory of school?

Age four arriving at the first class at primary and noticing all the names scratched out on my extremely old desk and my teacher Mrs. Miller.

What memories do you have of learning to read?

My sisters read to me and taught me the basics so I could read before I went to school. I already had a collection of books by the age of four.

What memories do you have of learning to write?

I remember the blackboard with lines drawn and beautiful letters that we had to copy and a poster with all the letters and an object that began with that letter. We all had lined copy books and we would practice a letter until we got it right.

What do you remember about math classes?

Not much I am afraid as it was not my favourite subject. I was always good at mental arithmetic and knew my times tables before I was five, but triangles and other angular objects never fascinated me. I passed it at o’level just!

What was your favourite subject?

Sally Cronin liked history best about school

I loved history and being in schools outside of my home country I got to learn far more than I would have done if locked into the curriculum in the UK. In South Africa for instance, I learnt about the Boer War from a completely different perspective and it did not paint the British in a good light. It was 1964 and I also heard about the war first hand from the grandmother of one of my friends. Living history is the best.

What did you like best about school?

Sally Cronin liked learning new things best about school

Learning new things, once the basics of reading and writing were done it was like opening a door to the world. I loved all lessons (apart from maths) and also the access to sport which I enjoyed including hockey, swimming and tennis.

What did you like least about school?

Probably leaving them as I would make friends and then two years later we would be on the move again. Then I would start again out of phase often for my age, with a different curriculum which included new subjects I was unfamiliar with that had not been taught at the previous school. It always felt that I was playing catch up and spent most of my evenings with extra homework to do that.

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

I can only judge this by friends who still have children in school and it would seem that there is less freedom, less physical activity, less homework, and more crowded.

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

I think that schools do well with the basics and for children who are academic they provide a solid platform to secondary education.

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.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Sally. I appreciate your perspective. It’s been wonderful to have you here. I learned so much I didn’t already know about you.

Find out more about Sally Cronin

On her blog: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

 

Connect with her on social media

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sally.cronin

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sgc58

LinkedIn: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/sallycronin1

Books by Sally Cronin

All Sally’s books are available from

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

And Amazon UShttps://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here:

Charli Mills

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

Coming soon:

Anne Goodwin

Geoff Le Pard

Debby Gies

Hugh Roberts

D. Avery

with more to follow.

Thank you blog post

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

 

ideas for using puzzles in the classroom to teach logical thinking and problem-solving

What can you do with a puzzle? – Readilearn

Puzzles are a fun way to encourage thinking and problem solving as well as mathematical and language skills. The celebration of National Puzzle Day on 29 January is a great excuse to introduce some puzzles into the classroom. The day may be American in origin, but there’s no reason the rest of us can’t join in the fun too.

I have always enjoyed puzzles; both the fun of figuring something out or solving a problem and the satisfaction in having done so.  My favourite types of puzzles include (in no particular order):

  • Jigsaw
  • Sudoku
  • Crosswords
  • Logic puzzles
  • Block puzzles
  • Word puzzles
  • Lateral thinking puzzles

Puzzles aren’t just those that come in a box, a book or online. Life presents us with puzzles and problems with regular frequency. Most days we will be faced with something that will stretch our thinking in divergent, convergent or lateral ways. It is good to provide children with opportunities to think too. Brief interludes of puzzle solving throughout the day can add fun, energise and refocus.

A variety of puzzles and resources to develop children’s thinking are available in the readilearn collection. Some are interactive lessons ready to teach on the interactive whiteboard. Others are printable for offline use. All provide opportunities for learning in context with the greatest benefit coming from the discussions with the teacher and other students.

Check out this previous post for other thoughts about Logical thinking and problem solving.

Learning with readilearn puzzles

Sorting puzzles

Continue reading: What can you do with a puzzle? – Readilearn

Don't give up - a yet attitude and growth mindset

Don’t give up – Yet!

Discussions of the importance of having a ‘yet’ attitude or a growth mindset abound, including on this blog. I am very much in favour of the ‘yet’ thinking, as proposed by Carol Dweck.

Basically, it means that we don’t consider our ability to learn as finite. We believe our potential to be constantly expanding. We may not know or be able to do something ‘yet’, but we can work at it and with each attempt come closer to achieving it.

The resolve to maintain a growth mindset can be challenged at times when the going gets tough and there is no obvious solution. It can be difficult knowing when enough is enough and it’s time to move on; or if success is hiding just around the corner or on a slight detour.

I often debate with myself about how to interpret the truth in the messages the universe seems to be sending, weighing up giving up against exerting just a little more persistence and patience. Consequently, I shouldn’t have been surprised by the unplanned theme in my response to the flash fiction prompt at the Carrot Ranch this week.

charli mill's flash fiction challenge - colonnades

Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes colonnades. It can be natural, architectural, or a metaphor. Take a stroll and go where the prompt leads.

What could colonnades possibly have to do with a growth mindset you might think, as would I. But when I sat at the keyboard, without a clue of what to write, this is what developed. I hope you like it.

Never Give Up

The solid grey wall stretched without end, both left and right —impenetrable, no way around, no way through. Perhaps a way over? Even from that distance, it appeared unscaleable.

He removed his backpack and rested his head upon it as he lay, gazing upward. He sighed heavily. He’d trekked so far believing this was the way. How could he have been so wrong?

He closed his eyes and drifted into a deep sleep. Refreshed, upon awakening, he decided to continue rather than retreat.

As he drew closer, the wall separated into columns spaced perfectly to allow an easy passage.

Do you see what I saw emerge? A story about not giving up? Of the importance of adjusting focus when it seems a dead end is reached, when there’s nowhere else to go and nothing else to try? Or is the theme significant to only me as I try to find a way through the colonnades in my path?

As I was writing this story, I was reminded of one I wrote for children using the nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty as a stimulus. In a similar way to Charli’s prompts, I was prompting children to think about possible reasons for Humpty Dumpty to be sitting on a wall and causes for him to fall.

The accident - an innovation on the nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty

Of course, I couldn’t do the prompting without writing a story of my own: The Accident – Humpty Dumpty’s Fall.

In the story, ‘Humpty looked at the wall. He couldn’t see through it. He couldn’t see over it. And there was no way around it.’ He thought it was ‘no use’. Fortunately, his friend Pomble wasn’t one to give up quite so easily and found a way for them to see over the wall. It was what occurred when Humpty was looking over the wall that caused him to fall. I won’t tell you what happened but, unlike the nursery rhyme, my story has a happy ending.

Thank you blog post

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