Just 18, he passed his test in July and already, of course, he’s a far better driver than his mum. Never mind that the car is buried under a 3 ft blanket of snow and hasn’t moved since the weekend. Don’t worry that all the roads are single track and covered in slush, with cars abandonned all over the place, and as soon as the plough goes through and clears the path new snow fills it in again. So what if the AA has had 18,000 breakdown call outs and that the temperature is predicted to drop to record lows tonight? Even the buses are struggling to reach the village.
I was struck, at the school bus meeting, not by an angry parent but by the general negativity in the room. Scattered amongst the “what about your expenses” and “you’re not listening to us” comments were mutterings about the Curriculum for Excellence. Why, people were asking, was money being wasted on this scheme that people clearly didn’t want? Now, I can’t profess to knowing a huge amount about the CfE but from what I do know, I wish it had been introduced early enough to benefit my two guineapigs, now in the closing stages of their school careers. I think there’s a huge selling job still to be done.
I’ve always thought that it must be extremely difficult to introduce real change in education, change beyond tinkering around the edges. The problem is that everyone thinks that their experiences were the best. They want the system they know for their children. The popular pundits tend to bolster this view. And children are in education for such a short space of time. Yes, I know it seems forever on that first day when they walk up the road in their smart new uniform, clutching their superman lunchbox and you’re choking back the tears, but believe me, it zips by. Continue reading →
We’ve had something of a family weekend. On Friday night we met my sister and her surely-will-be-famous-soon daughter for a meal at Mother India in Edinburgh. Great meal, we’ll be going back there again. It wasn’t quite long enough to catch up on all the news but we did hear a bit more about the impending permanent relocation to the Irish cottage and the difficulties of getting onto the Irish teaching register. Having to provide every address where you have ever lived throughout your whole life, for instance, is probably a whole lot easier when you’re 22 and home has always been in one place than when you’re 50 something and have lived all over the world. And she’s not quite sure of the relevance of all the units in her architecture degree, taken some 30+ years ago, even if the University can fill in the blanks, when she has been successfully teaching Design & technology or something like that for quite a number of years now.
As an aside, as we were leaving the restaurant the boys spotted an off-duty teacher, Continue reading →
Parents’ Evening could have been worse, I suppose, but you do have to read between the lines. A little conversation ensued on my Facebook page, to help me in the interpretation. I though you might all like to join in.
“I used to get comments like, easily distracted, can do it if he makes the effort. Not to mention the poor splelling 😉 “
“My best was for p.e. – J. would benefit from a more active approach to this subject”
“Teachers’ code. Lazy ass who needs a kick up the backside. But we are not allowed to say stuff like that.”
“Teachers’ code: I know a teacher who refers to the pupils as E.L.F.s (evil little f…ers) Made us laugh lots.”
Find out name of relevant teacher from reluctant teenager.
Weekday morning: write note and send it into school with relevant teenager.
Weekend morning: find scrunched up note in pocket of trousers heading for washing machine.
Next week: phone school to speak to teacher.
Teachers being teachers, they’re teaching (during school hours) or in meetings (after school hours), not speaking to parents on phone.
Leave message for teacher.
2 or 3 days later, phone school again.
Speak to receptionist, she of So I’m Supposed To Know Everything, Now?fame. She insists that it’s not school policy to put parents through to teachers and you have to be routed via guidance. (See? She does know everything.) Leave message for Guidance teacher to pass to Class teacher.
2 or 3 days later… Assuming you 1) still have the will to live, 2) can remember the original question (did you keep that note?) and 3) still want an answer, figure out Guidance teacher’s email address and email the question.
2 or 3 days later… Yes! Result! Receive response from Guidance teacher who has spoken to class teacher.
But… You need to reply to the teacher’s reply. Email Guidance again.
It was the end of June and so the end of term when I found myself reminded of the reason why I adopted Guineapigmum as my nom de blog. Three years ago (was it really that long ago?) the school decided to bring the Standard Grade exams forward a year. The students would choose their 8 subjects at the end of S1 (Year 8 ) rather than S2 and sit their exams at the end of S3 (Year 10) instead of S4. They would choose their 5 subjects for Higher at the end of S3, do a 2 year instead of the more usual 1 year course and sit Highers as normal at the end of S5. Got that? Come on, keep up at the back of the class. If you stopped gossiping you’d know what I said.
GP1 was in the first year group to go through this system and so he sat his Standard Grades a year ago, in 2007. With this first cohort, the teachers had to deal with two entire year groups Continue reading →
So there we are. External exams are over for another year. Next year will be the big one – GP1/Highers (I’m trembling and pale at the prospect) with GP2/Standard Grades (an entirely different proposition). This year, though, was a relative breeze.
And it’s not even midday yet. GP2 was crowing at breakfast that he was going to have his last biology lesson ever today. His Biology teacher this year (not you Fearghal!) seems to have single-handedly killed all interest in the subject in the entire class, as only one of their number has picked biology for next year. It is a little sad, as we’re both working biologists. In contrast, he has been enthused by Continue reading →
As expected, one pass, one fail. One very bouncy, highly motivated child – even an hour & a half of football in the rain didn’t manage to dampen his enthusiasm last night. And that’s as it should be!
As for the other “am I bovvered?”. Well yes, actually, though you might be doing your best to hide it. It would be very easy to say “It’s your own fault. You should have worked harder” and of course therein lies a very large part of the truth. But in reality the whole truth is lurking somewhere in that muddy pond between teacher & student. The trick is going to be in swimming out of the pond with some motivation intact.
I am hoping that one positive result might be some glimmer of understanding that, with prelims looming, good exam results are not simply handed to you by the teacher. But I’m not holding my breath.
As for motivation, with both boys now bussing it to school, I promised myself I would use the extra 40 minutes in the morning to cycle to work (OK, I know I work at home but a quick spin round the block before a day at the hard drive seemed like a good idea). So have I done it? Not very often, I’m afraid to say but I did go out this morning and it was great. Now I must crack on with some work.
Just got some comments back on a report I wrote recently & thought you might appreciate the following:-