Boo boo in select company

Boo boo in select company
Something to say?

Friday, 13 September 2013

An Inward Look - The Landscape of the Old.

There is a word that I cannot mention in front of my grand daughter, Asha, recently. It is old - old as in ageing. She has somehow gathered that old people tend to die sooner than others. It is my daughter's fault, I think. Someone recently died and all Asha asked was, 'Was he sick, Mum?' And instead of firmly saying yes, my daughter says, 'Not really. I think he was just old.' Now Asha is worried that I have grey hair and am clearly old. I had to promise that I will never, ever, die. Oh, boy! What a sentence.

   And that is why I have been a little remiss about my blogging. All this inward looking is not healthy for me, I think, indeed all this thinking might be disastrous as well. But the next few blogs will be about me and people of a similar age. Mind you, all the blogs are really about me, aren't they?

   I must admit, I have never enjoyed a phase of my life as much as I do this phase, this twilight time. Definitely old, definitely grey, and definitely senility approaching furtively.

   Then again, why am I so contended? If I have a recipe others like me can benefit too. I think my writing and reading have a lot to do with it. But it does not have to be writing or reading. My gardening makes me even happier. Recently I have wondered whether I should pick up embroidery again; something I last did in 1957, making a handkerchief for a reluctant paramour. He returned it to me very quickly without comment. You think there might have been a message there?

   Anything creative will do, I think. Once upon a time I thought that hobbies had to be started and cultivated over many years, like emotional investments, and you reaped the benefit as you grow older. My reading sustains me, but what if the habit had not been cultivated into an addiction by now? And what if all the indifferent writing and the sneering from agents had made me think writing was not for me?

     The point is: and this is a very important point- you don't have to be good. You just have to be enthusiastic. So, I consider, what are the pastimes you can start in old age and enjoy without having to wear out that arthritic knee or that dubious hearing? There is that magic world - the WEB. Here an old person can travel, research interesting ideas or just the sick life of celebrities, they can keep up with the new discoveries or the old histories. The possibilities are endless.

     The clan, our children, have a strong influence, negative or positive, on the state of our minds in old age. This merits another blog, but beware of role-reversal. I know a few parents who are dreadfully scared of their sons or daughters. When that happens a quick exit is indicated, preferably to another continent.

     I think I will dwell on this theme in my next blog. In the meantime, it is worth considering, not intensely, but off and on, in the late hours of the night or early hours of the morning, if you are insomniac like a great many old people. Needs to be thought through to a logical conclusion.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Learning and Schools

Yesterday I met up with Chris and Val after many months. People in London and around are so busy speeding to their destined ends that we do not notice our days furtively slipping by.That includes me.

   We got talking about education as is inevitable when three teacher-educators get together. Good Gove was mentioned in passing - we can't really do much to stop him from his headlong descent into learning chaos and elitism, but there you are. Everybody wants to reform education but they fail to take notice of the advice of the people in education: the teachers, the teacher-trainers, the lecturers,  And the end-user, as they so glibly call it in Aid circles; the parent and the student don't count at all. 

   The employers are consulted but each employer knows only what his particular field needs, not what the learner needs. A little like the elephant and the blind men. In India there is a mad drive in industry to learn Chinese, for obvious reasons. There is some leaning towards Arabic as well.  Let's say no more. Here in the UK it is all about applications to a particular industry rather than concepts that can lend themselves to further learning and development.

   A few parents are taking children out of school to educate at home. I can see why. EDUCATION can do a lot of damage to a child, the kind of damage to their ego, self-confidence and self-perception that only daily personal attacks can achieve. What's the point of a grade C in Maths if it comes to a damaged individual.

   Learning in schools: do we learn how to treat those more vulnerable than we are? Do we practise listening to elders and peers and sifting the good out of the bad advice? Do we learn any practical skills like putting a flat-pack together or indeed a broken person together?

   So what do I mean by education? It is about the end product: A caring, reflective and compassionate individual. A person who knows why fiddling your tax is wrong and why being homeless is an unfortunate condition, not a crime. Learning to live should be a joint endeavour, family and school working together, rather than drawing boundary lines.

   Maths and English and the rest of the school curriculum? We have to be a little more selective about what we put in the core curriculum. When I was teaching a comprehensive school I remember thinking that it was extremely time wasting to teach children Topology when they would probably never look at it again. But I had no choice for that particular group.

   I object to exams as a measure of what children have achieved- it tells you what they don't know, not what they know. Waste of time a great deal of the time.