Category Archives: education

No purchase necessary

It is a question that has plagued man since the 3 meals a day system was introduced. A question which haunts philosophers and scholars. Which, by its very nature, goes to the heart of the human psyche.
Is there such a thing as a free lunch?

Is anything free anymore? And if it is, is it worth having? What is the catch? What way will I pay for it later?
It was iTunes that got me thinking about this. A couple of weeks ago I saw something amazing, I saw a song for free by a band I actually knew. The song was by Soundgarden and was for the new avengers film. The song sucked. I had to go back and listen to some of their earlier stuff afterwards, just to remind myself how good the band were. I started to think about why it was free, was it A) to restart Soundgardens music career B) a publicity stunt to launch the film or C) an altruistic act by the filmmakers, the band and the apple corporation. I’ll leave that judgement in your capable hands.

Is anything in life truly free? Here are my (somewhat silly) ideas on the matter.

1) The freebie. Shopping centres are full of free stuff. I’m not talking about stealing here, more about the stuff they hand out when business is slow. The Nut Hut will give you 2 or 3 free cashews (make sure you get the cashews as they’re worth more), Holland and Barrett will hand out free samples of dried fruit, Cinebon will give you 1/24th of a free donut thing, some coffee or tea shop will let you try a thimble full of their new blend. However, this does not a free lunch make. The only way to get full is to walk past over and over again; wearing various disguises and hoping you don’t get rumbled. I would imagine you’d burn off more calories doing the walking then you would get from the food. Maybe I should send my ideas to weight watchers. I also get a free paper (The Metro). Yes, it is full of adverts and competitions (you know the ones: what is the New York otherwise known as? A) the big apple, B) the big turnip or C) the big pork pie. And it’s only £3 to enter), but its free and I read it. There is a subtle difference between free and my next category.

2) Complimentary things. This is the kind of stuff that the good and honest people who run hotels leave out for you to use on your visit. And what do we do? We stick it in our bags, phone down and ask for more and stick that in our bags too. I have become an expert on what good bath/shower gel is from the level of excitement my wife has when she checks out the bathroom of the hotel we are staying in. There is also the complementary mint or sweet at hotel and business receptions. The problem comes when you are not offered it. This is a problem for me because A) if I’m not offered it, I want it B) will I get told off if I just stick my hand in the jar and C) What if it’s not real food stuffs or really old and sticky? By the way, that fridge in the hotel room, definitely not complementary. And as far from free as you can get.

3) Cumulative free stuff. This is the coffee or restaurant card. I have a few in my wallet in various states of stampedness (I know, not a word) and I have never once redeemed one. It’s that moment where you sit down, and as you rear hits the seat you think ‘coffee card’. As I look at them now, I realise that some are better than others. Wetherspoons only wants me to buy 5 cups, then it’s a free one. The waiting room (small coffee shop on Deptford high street, highly recommended) gives me a coffee and a cake if I get 8, but Benugo want me to buy 10 coffees to get 1 coffee. I suppose they could have no loyalty card at all but that is hardly the point. What is the point? No idea.

4) No purchase necessary. I love the idea of going into a supermarket, finding a packet of something that has a toy or voucher inside and just opening it and taking it. If it says ‘no purchase necessary’ then wouldn’t that be ok? I don’t think the shop would think so.

I do think that there is always a catch, always an ulterior motive. I would love to be proved wrong. Altruism is dead my friends, if in fact it was ever alive. And on that cheery note, enjoy the rest of your weekend. I can’t end like that. Maybe a joke.

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As always, feel free to share the link, re blog or point people to my new (fancy pants) website address www.andrewauthor.com

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Why are ginger blokes funny?

It seems to me that all the ginger men I know are funny. Not funny looking or funny weird, but funny ha ha. It was a blog I was reading the other day (the ginger fight back, give it a go) that got the cogs in my head turning. Are ginger men born funny? Or does it develop over time? Is it nature or nurture? What I mean is, does the fact that they get mocked because of their hair (I’m not condoning it, just stating facts of the schoolyard) mean they develop a self defence funny bone? A self deprecation that led one of my friends to walk around wearing nothing but a box which said ‘ginger nuts’ over his own (they are a type of biscuit for those that don’t know). I shall attempt to use some other genetic examples to quantify my theory.

1) Are all fat pepole cheerful? I once heard someone tell a large lady near me “if you’re gonna be fat, you could at least have the common decency to be jolly”. Let me set something straight from the off, this is not an attack on anyone, but if you are big boned or fat, you generally have a rosy completion and a cheeky, chubby face. This, to my eyes, gives you a cheerful quality. I think we could call it the Santa effect. And to be fair, most large people I know are very happy and laugh often. They are also great at hugs, but I digress. I also know some real miseries who are portly, so this does nothing to help prove my theory. Next.

2) Are all short men angry? I’m not, but then I’m just below average height. And once again, let me state that this is not an attack on dwarfs (even though one was called grumpy) or little people. Many famous leaders where short blokes:

Alexander the Great
Napoleon
Hitler
Sarkozy
Berlusconi
Cruise (maybe not)

All under 5’6, all wanting power, all angry about being short. Napoleon even had a complex named after him (in the psychological sense, not the building sense). I think then that this is nature. And why do short blokes date tall women? Anyway, next.

3) Are all pretty people arrogant? Yes we are. Only kidding. I think that this is more a nurture thing. I know some very attractive/pretty/sexy people (I also know some proper ugly ones, just to show I’m balanced), and it seems that some are very lovely and others are so full of themselves that they become repulsive, despite their looks. This viewpoint is not one of jealousy as my wife is attractive/pretty/sexy, so I’m not jaded by being turned down by the gorgeous folk, I married one. This to me is about upbringing. My wife is down to earth and doesn’t know how pretty she is, those who have been told their whole lives ‘you’re so gorgeous, you should be a model’ feel entitled. It reminds me of a song by the streets, Fit But You Know It. As an aside, I went to school with this guy below (yes, me and David Gandy are the same age, and have surprisingly similar dress sense). He never got the girls then so I hope his late blooming has kept him grounded.

So then, what have we learnt here today? Not much really. I think that the ginger blokes I know are funny because they learnt, at an early age, to laugh at themselves. My hair is all but gone and I can now laugh at bald jokes, I think it’s given me an avenue of comedic thinking I had never really gone done before. So in that respect, gingers are ahead of the curve.

Keep on being who you are my ginger friends, I may not be one of you, but pretty soon I’ll have so little hair it won’t matter anyway.

As always, feel free to share the link, re blog or point people to my new (fancy pants) website address http://www.andrewauthor.com

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Comments I’ve Made

I spend a great deal of time with my foot in mouth. So much so that I have been told I only open my mouth to change feet. I can be sarcastic, stupid, way off the mark and plain rude. This has become less over time (I once told the biggest and most aggressive kid at my school he had a big nose, he then decided to spread my nose across my face) but I am still fully capable of putting my mouth in motion before putting my brain in gear. This is in the real world. The world where don’t get to think for a few minutes before commenting. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always say the wrong thing, the times I do are when I don’t have time to reflect on the stupidity of what I’m saying. In cyber space I am afforded time to reflect before making a statement, on Facebook, Twitter, WordPress and in emails I can be thoughtful, witty and above all, less dumb. So here it is folks, my occasional guide to commenting on other peoples thoughts.

1) Don’t make stupid responses when kids are involved (unless the initial comment is silly): I have friends with kids. As well as a sure fire sign of getting old, this also brings with it different types of parenting. These styles mean different types of comment, and the responses can very.

Exhibit A: The proud and doting parent. Example comment: I am so proud of little Timmy today, he told me how much he loved me.

Responses

Facebook: Hit the like button or ignore altogether.

Twitter: Smiley face or ignore altogether.

Email: Hope someone responds before you and hits the ‘respond to all’ category.

WordPress: Don’t read it in the first place (unless you know the person then follow the Facebook route – see above).

Exhibit B: The parent who has the same mental age as their child. Example comment: My daughter poured her potty on my wife, couldn’t stop laughing for an hour.

Responses

Facebook: Make a well thought out, puntastic comment and then make more as they occur. Take into account what others have put and add to their comments.

Twitter: Make a less funny, less wordy comment, due to the constraints of twitter.

Email: Scour the internet for a funny link or picture related to the topic. Reply with the attachment.

WordPress: Try as hard as possible to relate the topic to a blog you have written, add a link to that blog and check your stats and comment area. Check also that they have commented on your comment.

2) Never respond to those who seem needy. You can tell these people a mile away (especially when you can be one of them). The warning signs are as follows.

a) They constantly write questions. These are to elicit a response, to make you want to reply, and to fuel their ego. These could range from questions about food i.e who loves beans? To caparisons i.e who would win in a fight, superman or Batman? To musical preference i.e who doesn’t love Elvis? Yep, if you answer, they win, you lose.

b) They comment on everything topical, all the time, non stop. Did you see… I am just watching… Cant believe that… This band are about to… Put down the phone or computer, watch what you are watching, call someone (maybe your Granny), go out, have a beer. Just don’t tell me you are doing it.

c) They look for affirmation directly and unashamedly. This mainly applies to blogs. Blogs should be a chance to produce brain vomit as a kind of therapy. If people like it good, if not then screw ’em. Sometimes it can be the bloggers screen name that does it. I recently had someone like my post whose screen name was based around the topic of not circumcising boys. Seriously, that view is your choice, but if you need to make it your screen name, then I’m not convinced of your convictions. It also made me a little uncomfortable to have that on my ‘like’ area.

3) Try to be thoughtful. I like to read other peoples blogs, and love the fact that I now have a way of tracking the responses to comments I’ve made through the WordPress dashboard. I will only comment on a blog, status update or tweet if I like it. The difference with commenting on a blog is this: you don’t know the person. The great part is that you can get to know them through their words. I consider my blog a fair representation of who I am. I would like to think the same about others and their blogs. If I read a blog but have nothing to add, then I will hit the like button. But if I feel the writer might enjoy what I have to say, then I will tell them. If they don’t, well they can just moderate and delete my comment.

I will continue to comment on blogs, annoy my friends on twitter and Facebook and write silly emails with attachments of Darth Vader playing the harmonica. Above all this though, I shall continue to speak to real people and say really dumb and sometimes insulting things. My friends will always forgive me, or at least put up with me.

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London pub etiquette.

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I live in Bethnal Green, a lovely part of the world. It has a very diverse, cultural and great mix of people that consist of old cockneys, a large contingent of people from Bangladesh and an ever growing number of east Europeans. It’s the kind of area that celebrates its diversity and means that I can get a great curry, some wonderful Czech and polish beer and have a traditional east end market stall (2 in fact, one for fruit, the other for veg) out the front of my flat. All of this is great. What makes east London fantastic though is the range of pubs.

Within a 10 minute walk of my house I have 7 pubs that I enjoy going to. 7. And if I fancy going a bit further afield, central London has many excellent pubs too. I understand that this may make me sound like a bit of an alcoholic but I have lived in the area for much of my drinking life. But, as spiderman’s uncle once said “with great pubs, comes great responsibility” Pub etiquette is paramount. Here is my short survival guide.

1) If you can’t see the pub through the windows, don’t go in. These are local places for local people. I’m local but I still wouldn’t go in them. They are run, owned and frequented by the old east end guard. The only way to safely grab a drink is to a) go in the day or b) be related to one of the old school drinkers in the pub. That’s not to say that the clientele would do you bodily harm, more a case of the reaction the new cowboy in town would get in the old westerns. Music stops, people turn and stare, a pin drops and you can hear it. Uncomfortable would be the word.

2) Don’t ask to share a table. Even if it’s one person on their own. It’s not very British, it’s certainly not very London. This will mark you out as an outsider and the cowboy thing could happen. Propping up the bar (standing at the bar and leaning) is a much better option.

3) Wait your turn to be served (but don’t queue). This is a skill that develops over time. Even if the person serving the drinks has no idea of the order, you should. Walk to the bar, scan the people, place then in chronological order, wait to asked who is next then point the bar tender to that person. If it was you and someone fails to follow this rule then shout “sorry mate/love, I was next” and start your order before any argument can happen. Also, don’t queue in a straight line, spread out across the bar.

4) If you are a man then drink a pint. Bottles are ok, half pints are a big no no. You can get around this by ordering a pint, keeping the glass when finished and pouring your half pint into the pint glass. It’s much more manly, just make sure the glass collector doesn’t take your glass.

5) Always stand your round. If you are in a group (even if you don’t know half of them) ask if anyone would like a drink. Most people will quickly decline saying they will get their own. This is fine as long as the ground rules have been established. By the same token, never accept a drink if a) you are only staying for one or b) you have a nearly full drink. Forget this rule if you are with regular drinking buddies as this will generally work itself out over time.

6) The bells at 11 mean get another one in. Most pubs will try to kick you out just after last orders, this means you’ve got at least another half hour. Use it wisely to neck (chug, scull, down) your drink and stumble out to the fresh air.

A great deal to remember I’m sure you’ll agree. If you do then you will enjoy a hassle free night of drinking. Just remember to leave the pub quietly, show some respect for the neighbours.

Cheers.

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River Thames shark sanctuary

So it appears that the river Thames been selected to host “an in-depth study into the breeding and habits of several species of fresh-water sharks.” I honestly can’t wait. I’m just a bit gutted that the water is so murky, less chance of seeing them.

So what’s it all about? Well, two thousand sharks are to be released into the river including blue sharks, hammerheads, and a few great whites. The experiment is designed to determine whether the sharks could survive in the cold climate of London. The thinking behind it is to keep the tourist industry alive after the Olympics.

The government is said to be spending £1.3 million, but think the return could be 10 times that over the next 3 years. A representative from the Life and Inclusion Experiments organisation (L.I.E) was quoted as saying that there would probably be a noticeable decline in the populations of other fish in the river because “the sharks will eat about 20 pounds of fish each per day, more as they get older.”
I wonder if this means they will need to introduce more fish into the Thames? You could always do feeding sessions and make it an added tourist attraction. Scuba diving in the thames? Maybe another money spinner.

Mayor Boris Johnson is said to have protested the experiment, afraid of the hazard it would pose to tourists and riverboat cleaners, but his complaints had been ignored by the the coalition government, with Cameron claiming he is under pressure from the American government to use the Thames for such research. Randy Bumgardner, aide to president Obama said that America could follow suit with the Hudson.

Happy April fools day by the way. It may not have suckered you all in, if it did then hooray for silliness.

Here is my favourite top 3 April fool pranks of all time…

3) In 1965 BBC TV featured an interview with a professor who had just invented a device called “smellovision.” This new technology allowed viewers to experience aromas produced in the television studio. The professor offered a demonstration by cutting some onions and brewing coffee. A number of viewers called in to confirm that they distinctly experienced these scents as if they were there in the studio with him. That’s the power of suggestion I suppose.

2) 2000: A news release sent to the media stated that the 15th annual New York City April Fool’s Day Parade was scheduled to begin on 59th Street and would proceed down to Fifth Avenue. According to the release, floats in the parade would include a “Beat ’em, Bust ’em, Book ’em” float created by the New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle police departments. This float would portray “themes of brutality, corruption and incompetence.” The “Atlanta Braves Baseball Tribute to Racism” float would feature John Rocker who would be “spewing racial epithets at the crowd.” CNN and the Fox sent television news crews to cover the parade. They arrived at 59th Street only to discover that there was no sign of a parade, at which point the reporters realised they had been hoaxed.

1) On 1 April 1957, the respected BBC news show Panorama announced that thanks to a very mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. It accompanied this announcement with footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees. Huge numbers of viewers were taken in. Many called the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree.

Have a happy April fools day.

These stories were gathered from the Guardian, Independent and Times websites with special mention to the museum of hoaxes.

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The Queen’s English (and how not to speak it).

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I have a friend who, at the mere mention of toys r us goes into a full speech about how kids in his class write their r’s the wrong way round. It drives him mad. I feel the same about text speak. I recently marked a piece of writing that had both LOL and m8 in it. I was furious when marking it. I don’t think I was as mad with the child as much as society, the parents and a culture of laziness. Now I have never pretended to be the best speller, or that my grammar and punctuation is the best it could be. I just can’t see how you put text speak into school work.

It’s not just the text speak though, it’s not even the dropping of h’s or replacing the th with an f (ello instead of hello or fanks instead of thanks) it’s the complete lack of understanding that this in not the correct way to speak.

The newest one though is the dreaded D. This D finds itself at the start of words it has no place being. There becomes dere. “It’s over dere bruv” can be heard or “I didn’t do dat dough”. And worse than this, it’s started to creep into their writing. Not just in sentences (although that’s pretty bad) but in word exercises. I was doing a class activity based on homophones (homophones are words that sound the same but are spelt differently and have different meanings. e.g. to, too and two) and a child said “I have a good one, dare and dere”. I asked him to repeat himself as I thought it was just a word mix up, maybe he meant dare and dear. He said exactly the same thing. I finally asked him to put the words in context for me. This is what he said…

“I dare you to go and jump over the road”. And then “look at that dog, it’s over dere”.

What hope do I have trying to teach if this is what I’m up against.

I do understand that many of the children I teach don’t speak English as a first language at home. I also get the fact that that’s why they might not be able to write as well as other children of the same age. It’s not a race thing. I am sure though that they don’t communicate via text when speaking with whoever is at home. It’s not that they have a strong accent other than that of the street. White, black, Filipino, Vietnamese, African, Bangladeshi, Caribbean etc. They all speak with accent of the street, it’s universal (well londonversal). I would love to know if it’s the same in all big cities.

I shall continue to try to right the wrongs, pick up on the mistakes and correct the spelling. After all, dere is no one else to do it.

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Why I hate Ikea

The weekend is here. A time to relax, a time to have a break from the daily slog, a time to turn off the morning alarm. What to do? Maybe a full English breakfast, a nice lunch out, a nice dinner in, a trip to the cinema, a visit with friends and family? Yes, on Saturday morning the possibilities seem endless. Ah, the weekend.

Then the words start to form on the lips of your loved one, the words that you knew were coming, the words that fill you with dread. Let’s go to Ikea.

You want to scream “no, it’s not fair!” You want to roll around the floor shouting and stamping your feet. The problem is that you can’t. You are an adult, doing adult things like washing, cleaning and making sure your house has enough storage and places to sit. I truly hate Ikea. Here are my top 6 reasons why…

1 of 6) Nameless art of places I have never been. It’s an odd thing really. I have never been to the beach that is hanging on my living room wall. To be honest, the only photos on my walls that are of places I have been are the place me and the wife said our we do’s and the studio where the photographer took the pictures of my son. I never took the pictures of the flowers in the kitchen, the sunset on the living room wall or any other ‘art’ (used in the loosest possible sense) in my home. Go take a look in Ikea (or next, tesco, asda or any non art art seller) and you will find fields, cityscapes, blue oceans and flowers. Why can’t we just leave the walls blank. Even better, get the star wars poster back off my mate and put that up. At least it’s of something I like. But that’s the point, you notice it. Ikea art is there to add colour and be ignored. Top marks guys. Job well done (please include sarcastic tone when reading last 2 comments. Thanks)

2 of 6) Flat pack and instructions. This really is the worst. Great big lumps of MDF coated to look like pine or oak. Little packets of screws, nails and nameless twisty things. Instructions in 12 different languages that are overly complicated. A list of tools you will need that is never enough and finally, when you think you are done, when you stand back and look (arms folded in a manly way) you step on the packet of screws or nails or nameless twisty things you didn’t use and wonder a) how important are they and b) how long until it falls down! The worst part though is that you actually need the instructions. That’s not very manly at all.

3 of 6) Hot dogs. Either: Oooooo look, a 45p hot dog. Let’s get one. I would rather keep my 45p and my 25 minutes Queuing time thank you very much. Or: let’s go to ikea and we can have a hotdog at the end. (deep breath) Let’s not and have pint in the pub as we don’t have enough chairs here which is why you want to go and so if we go to the pub we don’t need chairs. And inhale.

4 of 6) Many boxes for one thing. My friend has just had a little girl, well his other half did but anyway this meant 2 things. Number one: he had to get more storage. Number 2: he had to go to ikea. He was smart though, he got it delivered. Or was he? No, it appears not. He got his delivery of many boxes and quickly realised that he had 5 out of 7 boxes for his tv unit, 4 out of 9 boxes for the wardrobe and 3 out of 5 for the table. This just goes to show that even the people who work at ikea can’t find all the boxes. What hope do I have? I have 2 degrees (my wife has the same) and we can’t figure it out. Maybe I need to be Swedish?

5 0f 6) My house is full of it. Yes, yes it is. I hate myself right now. Don’t look at me.

6 of 6) oops, the item you are looking for is out of stock.

So ikea, your customer service sucks, your food is paler than it should be, your systems are overly complicated, you have a one way system that needs a sat nav, your furniture comes in millions of unnecessary boxes, the wood items you sell contain as much real wood as your hotdogs do real meat, you make me depressed and you ruin my weekends. But, you are cheap and have a clever catalogue that shows what my house could look like (if I cleaned and didn’t have a child). So for now you win. I hope you’re proud of yourself. (insert sarcasm again, cheers)

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Middle management

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I am now middle management. A term that means nothing to those above me or those below me. It doesn’t really mean much to me either to be honest apart from the fact I get a few extra pennies in my pocket each month. So what is middle management? And how do you survive it? Here goes…

1) don’t let the power go to your head, you don’t have any. As I said above, all it means is that you are not quite ready or not tried and tested enough to be management. You will have responsibilities that are so minor that if it all goes wrong it doesn’t really matter. Although this may be true you still have to consider…

2) you will be blamed for failure and ignored for success. Basically it breaks down like this: if you are successful then it is your bosses who will take the credit as they ‘knew you could do it’ and that’s why they hired you. If it all goes wrong then you will make a great scapegoat.

3) doing the crap jobs. Sometimes, jobs are so crap that they can’t even be given to staff to do. That’s where middle management comes in. These jobs are usually paperwork, the results of the paperwork are usually semi important, the paperwork itself is always as dull and laborious as a trip to a modern art gallery with someone who thinks they know about modern art.

4) management speak and americanisms. Pushing the envelope, thinking outside the box, moving forward together and so on. Best I ever heard was a manager say “you can’t have your cake and eat it, so you had better step up to the plate and face the music” awesome. Try here for more bollocksphere

I do find myself turning into David Brent from the office sometimes. I try to stop myself but I fear it may be inevitable. I suppose it’s all about career progression, one day I will be management, maybe even senior management. Then I get the power, the money, the glory and the ability to blame those around me no matter what I’ve done.

I shall end with a little Eddie Murphy and ‘coming to America‘. This week it’s the floors, next week the fries and one day I’ll make assistant manager, that’s when the big bucks come rolling in.

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A valuable lesson

I have been a teacher for a number of years now and I absolutely love it. This was not always the case. I now teach primary school children (between the ages of 7 and 11) which means that between teaching I get to be a big kid. When I started I taught secondary and college age kids (11 to 18 years old), and while teaching the older kids A levels was fun it was the 14/15 year olds that made me feel sick on the way to work, so much so that I nearly gave up. Primary school kids though are eager to learn (for the most part) and are desperate for the teacher to be impressed with their work. Here are my favourite reasons for being a primary school teacher…

1) science experiments. You are actually teaching them about the world, things that you or I would take for granted amaze them and things that we haven’t even thought about lead them off in new lines of enquiry. Some of the questions they ask are funny too as they don’t just accept things on face value. I was asked the other day why people don’t send parcels in helium packages as it would weigh less and hence be cheaper. I had no real response to that.

2) imagination. Say to the kids to do some free writing and you will be amazed at what you get. We had a theatre group come in and set up a little shop (it was really well done, amazing in fact) with a little old woman in it who told stories. As the children left they we’re given buttons and told to write a story of who they belonged to and how they got lost. We had everything from fairies to robots to dragons to beasts they had made up themselves. It was the most fun I have had marking in forever.

3) bluntness. This could also be called misunderstanding. I shall give you 2 of my favourite examples. The first is bluntness: I ask the child to write about a religious ceremony and for extra marks to compare it to another. He wrote about a wedding and a bar mitzvah. The difference was that in the bar mitzvah “they cut a snip of the dick”. Not in the wedding though. The second is a child who I asked to draw me a medieval room, he came back to me with a basement with a coffin, a werewolf and a giant spider. When I asked him what it was he told me it was his evil room.

4) I get to be a kid. I am a big kid, I love to play, that is all.

Although teaching is hard work with the planning, marking, discipline, long nights, parents, parents evenings, meetings, marking tests, administering tests, preparing for tests, dealing with fights, dealing with outside agencies (social workers and alike), the heartbreak of a kid who isn’t looked after properly at home and the threat of ofsted (school regulatory board). I do love my job. Every now and then you make a difference, that’s what it’s really about.

This fantastic picture was drawn by a 7 year old at my school, inspired by my books. That’s the kind of validation that gets me the most.

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Insert clever name here…

What a year! It’s been a year of mostly ups for me and very little downs, I know how lucky that makes me and I am aware that I am in danger of becoming sincere and sentimental so I shall stop it immediately.

This year has meant 4 more of my books being published, a new website with an awesome name (www.andrewsbooks.co.uk), a rediscovery of my love of poetry, a virtual fistful of new apps for my phone, some great trips, an attempt to regrow my hair and a new found DJ. So here it comes, my best of 2011 list…

1) Poetry: I uses to like poetry at school and then I didn’t. It wasn’t a conscious decision I suppose it’s just where do you come into contact with it in your every day life. As I teacher I really enjoyed teaching it this year. The best compliment I got from a child was “you made me think about the world in a weird and different way”. Love it.

2) WordPress: I really like the WordPress website and the fact it is so easy to use. The disadvantages are that checking your stats is addictive, how many views? How many followers? I can’t help myself! The massive advantage is the WordPress app, it’s awesome. It means I can blog and add pictures direct from my iPhone. This also means I don’t drive my family mad by being constantly on the computer.

3) iPhone: blogging tool, camera, mp3 player, texting, making calls, sat nav, tv, Internet access and game console. Who needs a laptop? My favourite things on it this year have been sky go (I can watch up to 12 sky channels on my phone, including 6 movie channels), as it means I don’t have to watch kids TV all the time. Sonic the hedgehog is a great time waster as well, the mega drive version of course.

4) Squidge: what a great year for the Squidge books it has been. I have loved writing them, James has loved drawing them and proving house have loved putting them out. I think this shows in the quality of the finished books. Check them out.

5) Jaguar skills: a DJ who has been around for a while but is new to me. No one knows who he is, well they do but they don’t. Let’s try again. A DJ who keeps his identity secret. The best thing to do is have a look. Jaguar skills link.

I think that one of my favourite things though has been coming up with the names for the blogs. I’ve left this one blank so you can join in the fun if you want.

Have a happy 2012. Hope the new year treats you well.

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