Tag Archives: school

Don’t patronise me school

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Ever read a work you instantly dislike? Not a swearword or a word describing something disgusting, but one of those perfectly innocent ones that make you rave and rage and awaken the slumbering teenager in you? I’ve been coming across some of those in my not-training related reading lately and I need to get these thoughts of my chest before I start ranting at a corner.

Ethos: Straight for the heavy-duty notions, yes. Let me put a disclaimer here. Ethos, as in the philosophical notion is lovely and fascinating and necessary in all the bafflement its definition results to. I’m not starting a -heh- ethical debate here. What bugs me is how the word (and I suppose the concept by extension) is used in schools. Yes, definitely teach children how to make ethical and informed choices. Gods know some members of the older generations did not get the message. But why, do so many schools (my old high school included, nostalgia won’t save you!) present ethos as being practically married to the concept of leadership? These aren’t mutually inclusive values. Being an ethical person does not mean that they will have the inclination or the talent to lead. Similarly being a leader does not predispose a person to be ethical. -insert current political commentary here- It might be a tad Machiavellian but I don’t think children should be led to assume that ethics and leadership always go hand in hand. Should they? Perhaps. I’m neither a Political Science major nor a sociologist.

This line from an article on school assessment I read: “Some teachers and educationalists have suggested that the word ‘work’ should be replaced by the word ‘learning’.”: Dear teachers, students are not stupid. Regardless of how you try to sugarcoat it, homework will be homework and exams will be exams and both these things are near universally hated. Calling it “learning” will not give make the process more pleasant. In fact it might do the opposite. Words gain connotation through the experiences we attach to them. Frankly I’m glad my teachers called homework for what it was. It’s a word that for me personally carries the associations of boring, often pointless assignments, long hours and late nights and the curse upon introverts that is known as group projects (screw socialising, I didn’t want friends, I wanted to be left to do my work in peace!). Now imagine if this bouquet of awful had been attached to a more general and inclusive words like “learning”. Yeah… Never mind a Masters degree, I wouldn’t have made it through the undergraduate either.

And for the matter, what’s this new fad of correcting with a green pen instead of red? Supposedly it’s less aggressive, feels more like suggestions? That’s the idea as far as I can understand it. Has anyone thought that maybe the reason we view red as the more aggressive colour is because our experience was exactly that? Worksheets and exams marked in red? If our teachers had corrected our work in green or purple or even those fancy multi colour gel pens we would be sighing and longing for the nonthreatening red. And if you have crappy eyes like I do, you would be cursing the use of any other colour. At least red pops out and your eye focuses on it. Corrections, especially on homework aren’t supposed to be the written equivalent of a supportive grandmother. They are supposed to be what will kick your butt in high gear and point you to the correct direction. And shouted directions are always better than whispered ones.

Millennials: I’ll say it right now. As a Millennial I’ve got into my fair share of arguments with Baby Boomers and older generations thereof. Let’s be honest. The internet alone has made this particular generation gap the size of the Grand Canyon. Add to that how insanely different the world in all each aspects is from the 70s and the 80s and well… there you have it. Have fun translating the Old Ones anything of what’s going on right now in our heads or our lives. And it may be the prerogative of the older generation to view their successors as wastes of space (the line “back in my days” was invented for a reason) as much as it is the prerogative of the young to view their predecessors as backward and the cause of all the trouble we are dealing with now. This is nothing new. We used to call it counter-culture or the hippy movement or (if you go really backwards) “those time-wasters that read novels”. It’s always happened so why the absolute vitriol that is being spewed in all directions lately? I guess it’s in part because the Millennials are not just outspoken, but also in possession of many more avenues to express their outrage (once more, thank you internet).

And I’m not going to sit here and claim that all causes are as urgent or as important but there seems to be this silent agreement amongst the adults (yes, most millennials are also adults at this point but you know what I mean) that if a millennial said we’ll just nod and ignore their points. Why? We heard your points. In fact you might say we heard your points for a little too long. The world is not a mid-life crisis sports car. Let us get on the wheel already. Yes, our ideas might be wacky but guess what? When you face a future of certain debt and uncertain stability (financial, employment or housing-related or even health-related) you kinda sorta need to think outside the box. Box looks pretty torn around the edges anyway…. duct-tape can only do so much.

And on an entirely unrelated and much lighter note, the top disliked word of the week is….defibrillator! What is wrong with this word? How do you pronounce it? How do you spell it? Why can’t we use the term “medical taser” instead? I looked it up in Greek because that usually helps when I come across unfamiliar words and according the dictionary called mum, it’s “απινιδωτής” (apinidotis). -insert anime drop here- Dear medical folk, you’re just screwing with us, aren’t you.

Final Farewell

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The old schoolyard is empty. So late in the afternoon the students have long gone home. But you’re not one of them and you haven’t been for quite a few years. The truth is that you’re not even sure why you came back. When you left, you forced yourself to turn a leaf and bury who you had been deep inside. Perhaps being here proves how miserably you failed.

 

You ignore the “yard of the old kids” and walk at the back. Nearly ten years later you can still recall every nook and cranny here as if it was only yesterday that you left, never to come back. You ignore the various games; it’s amazing how they still look the same, and approach one of the most important reasons for your return. It has hardly changed. Perhaps a bit taller, but still thin and the soil around it the same ochre-brown color. Now you know that it’s not a fir, though its name was never of any importance. In your mind it was and still is “grandpa”, one of your first real friends.

 

When the other children played with one another, you sat on its feet and listened to the stories it whispered. That was when you first the discovered the power of the Word, when all the other children were speaking their own tongue, a tongue you couldn’t understand but  – much to the disturbance of the occasional teacher – you cared not to learn either. You were alone and you were happy.

 

Before you knew it you were one of the “old kids” but inside still the same. For your peers you are the strange one, the outcast, existing only to amuse with your difference. No one outrights says it but you hear their laugh and see their scorn in their eyes whenever you bother to look at them. You don’t care. You have new friends. Where they see plants, your eyes see houses and caves. A broken fountain is your cauldron and the leaves and seeds you gather like the birds do are the ingredients of your broth. You make plates out of leaves, keep your “home” orderly and sometimes you even find hidden treasures.

 

As you grow so does your thirst for stories. You read frenziedly, every minute you can spare is filled with the books you read or the stories you make. Everyone thinks that you are alone and cut-off from those that could be your friends, but in reality you have more true friends and guardians at your side than they would ever suspect.

 

The years flow and you remain happy, away from everyone. You see no reason to change and make the mistake to believe that the world around you is the same with your world. Arrogance it may be, but you were proud. While they grew up worrying over pointless things, you gathered stories and kept in your heart their teachings, like the gems you would later love.

 

But you forgot to pick up one of the most important; that of time. All of a sudden you are forced to change environment a year earlier than what you expected. Believing it to be the right thing you agree and found yourself in a new schoolyard. For the first time you could turn a new leaf, to write a new chapter in your book. Curiosity has always been your flaw and it would be a lie to claim that you never wonder about the other riverbank. So you tried to cross, disregarding everything that your friends had taught you.

 

It was naïve of you to think that years without any contact with those around you could simply be erased. You were trying to find a balance between two worlds, believing that the things you wanted and dreamed were around you, when you had never lost them. Reality hit you violently. You did not belong to the same world with the other kids – what did age matter?- They were mere kids to your eyes, they still are. You tried to go back. It was terrifying to realize that you did not belong there anymore. The balance was lost. For the first time you were truly alone and for the first time you were accepted.

 

A bird flies by and you come back to reality. You laugh at yourself. You always thought yourself more mature from those around you, more independent, but in reality you never changed. So afraid to grow up that you imprisoned yourself inside your own mind and now is the time to deal with the consequences. Now it’s the time to finally mature.

 

Even if you didn’t want to, you grew. Perhaps that mistake of yours was not so fatal after all. It may have taken time but balance has been restored. You belong to neither one world. You tied them together to something greater and that is the reason you came back today. To offer your gratitude to your fist true friend, the one that showed you the path you walk today, a path between true and untrue, reality and dream, amongst words and amongst worlds.