Thursday, 27 September 2012

Infinite variety

I always remember that quote from Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra- "Age cannot  wither her, nor custom stale, her infinite variety." I used to think that seemed like a sort of bonus for growing older or being less than beautiful-I assumed infinite variety referred to he mood changes and attitudes-making her a bit risky and unpredictable. Well having reached middle age myself-I'm not so sure! I think it actually refers to life itself-which appears to take on a roller coaster effect -you know-when you start to juggle too many balls and meet yourself coming back? Well I have had a lot of "infinite variety" this week...the New Horizons Education is moving forward-we have 14 students this term which is a good start. We need to get the other courses kicked off next so hoping the Evening Mail article next week will do the trick (usually does).

As if that wasn't enough I have started my new little job at the Dock Museum as an assistant. This is what I had originally set out to do some 34 years ago-that or archaeology...funny how you get diverted sometimes! Great fun! Another day in on Sunday. THAT will be fun as I have a long standing booking for a ghost vigil at Tatton Park with my daughter in law and her pals...we don't get back till early hours and I'm in at 11am! 

The new book is going to press this week-really cannot wait! I am very pleased with this one...I feel I have settled into my style now and  it is quite exciting. Hope you like the cover-I am...its kind of carried on the theme too-looks good. Thanks again to Troubador Publishing

Bit of prep tomorrow for the book release and its going to be even busier next month! Ah well, variety-infinite or otherwise-is the spice of life.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Deja vu...reverse education policy!

Well-as someone who was schooled via the Grammar School system and took the "one shot" O levels I am astounded to see this elitist and unimaginative government trying to resurrect a similar exam process for 21st century children. Personally, the system suited me well... an introverted, avid reader and someone who had a capacity for accumulating facts. However, I am the first to admit this system certainly could never be a "one size-fits all" and I have since taught many children who would never have been able to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding in this way-yet who have as much to offer and are just as intelligent. 

So the single exam mode fits the "academic" brain...but what does that mean actually? It is proof of a good memory. Proof of rote learning. Proof of brain training. However, it does not necessarily denote sense, the ability to interpret, analyse, synthesis and application fact all of the other higher order thinking skills. Neither does it give children with practical and verbal skills the chance to shine-which course work demonstrates-or the dyslexic child who once again will be returned to the bottom of the pile. What about the gifted child who doesn't see the point of being exam smart...and under performs? All those potential successes being consigned to the failure pile. Setting them up for low self esteem and second best for the rest of their lives. Establishing a new elitism...why don't we go the whole hog and return to Latin primers, Greek and horn book?

I could cry when I think of the future children pushed through the sausage factory of this brave new world of education. However, it will ensure the continuance of the ruling class and enable them to keep the masses in their place! But worse than this-the upheaval, the cost, the difficulties of the transition to any new exam system-the kids who slip between the lines while it is being perfected by schools...and then, when this government is finally ousted-as it surely will be-the cost of amending, adjusting and manipulating the system to fit with the new governments ideology! Who will suffer in all this? The kids! Yes-your kids and mine-our grandchildren too-all because we allow our politicians to meddle in the education of our children and force upon the real educationalists their petty and divisive policies and ideas-whether it is beneficial or not!

Its time we thought of the various messes we have made over the years-and the effect it has had on subsequent cohorts of children.

For more on this look at Michael Rosen's blog! He expresses it more eruditely than I can-but says more or less the same thing!

Friday, 7 September 2012


I am one who is averse to change...yet I seem to encounter it at every turn. Obviously, life can never be static and the natural changes which occur have to be accepted and assimilated. I tend to be one of those people who affects change uneasily, but looks back to what went before. I love nostalgia and wallow in the past-I am sure I do this idealistically-I doubt that the past has the rosy glow I endow it with. In saying that, however, I do think there are elements that we could learn from-certainly, my childhood seemed simple and innocent-I think my first book echoes this, as the children in it have the freedoms which I so enjoyed...maybe more than 21st century kids experience. Childhood disappears so quickly, vital and exciting one moment and fading to a sunset memory the next. 

I watched a neighbour's child playing in the street with her friends today. I felt a tear prickle the back of my eye as I recalled how recently my own daughter played in the same street with hers. She goes off to Leeds University soon and has long cast aside youthful games...but how quickly that seems to have happened! I know I should not mourn her growing up-especially as I am lucky to have a grandson to fill those childish footprint; but its hard not blink and your own youth has vanished, sad but true! Perhaps that's why I have preserved childhood in my book so carefully..I can at least leaf back through the story and replay it all.

Business is moving forward-we are picking up lots of Teaching Assistant students and should be very busy indeed. New Horizons Education Ltd are establishing well at the moment-I am looking forward to getting down to some work next week.

News on the Furness Abbey Fellowship front-our account has £120 plus and we have some extremely exciting plans ahead. We had an entirely successful meeting with Clea Warner from English Heritage last week and I am excited about the future prospects.

On the book front-Guy the Grumpy Gargoyle is progressing well-lots of people buying it and asking about it. Raven's Hoard is due on 1 November and I have approved the lovely book cover. Final proof reading is complete-hopefully no errors have slipped through this time! Just a matter of publicity and marketing now! I find this problematic as I feel its such a huge job and I am not sure how successful I am at it. I hope I can get a bit done in the next weeks and reach a wider audience. I still need more reviews and Facebook page likes...and retweets. A couple of famous recommendations wouldn't go amiss either! Any suggestions or assistance would be welcomed! And then...on with next book-Cistercian conspiracy!