Tagged with " education"
Apr 9, 2011 - Books, Learning, Parenting, School    6 Comments

You are what you read…

If the saying ‘You are what you read’ is true, and a large part of me firmly believes so, I am seriously worried about the reading books that are being sent home from school; Georgia’s school and I imagine hundreds of other schools around the country.

If I digress a bit, and generalise an awful lot, and very much through an immigrant’s eyes, Britain and the British are well known as a country of ‘moaners’. They admit it themselves, everything and anything is always ‘dark and gloom’.

In fact, I have a lovely lovely sweet neighbour who is a lovely chap except everytime I’ve ever spoken to him, he complains about something, or other, usually the weather, which he has absolutely no control over! Nothing is ever right.

Anyway, back to those dreaded reading books. Georgia’s reading books from school are from the Oxford Reading Tree series. They’ve been around a while, I gather and I suppose in itself, from an educational perspective, they are fairly well written with step-wise developments on words with progressively more words per page.

What I just can’t get over are the stories and how depressingly negative they are! Bif, Chip and Kipper along with Wilf and Wilma, are on the whole pretty interesting characters (well, as interesting as pen-drawn characters can get). But the things they get up to and the conversations they have though are enough to make me want to slit my wrists! (No kidding!)

At The SeasideTake for example, the latest story Georgia brought home. It’s called At the Seaside.

The words of the story go like this:
The family went on holiday. Wilf and Wilma went, too.
The hotel had burned down. ‘Sorry’ said the man.
They looked at a new hotel. ‘Too expensive,’ said Mum.
They looked at an old hotel. ‘No, thank you,’ said Dad.
Every hotel was full. ‘Sorry!’ said everyone.
They had to go home. But the car broke down.
A farmer stopped his tractor. ‘Can I help?’ he said.
The farmer had a bus. ‘You can stay here,’ he said.
‘What a good holiday!’ said Wilf.

Copyrights OUP 1989

At least this book ends in a slightly more positive note, but really, surely it’s not necessary for children to have such a depressingly negative start. I must add, though, even in the books with slightly perkier or funnier stories, they typically end with ‘Oh no!’

Do you think these (infant and primary school) 5-year old’s reading books could have been a significant contributing factor to how ‘negative’ (again, gross generalisation here!) British society has become?

I’m sorry but give me Dr Seuss any day!

Feb 23, 2011 - Culture, Parenting, Philosophy, Random    4 Comments

Maths Makes Sense: My humble opinion

Maths is easy

Georgia’s school recently held an Information Evening for the parents of KS1, mainly to introduce a new Maths scheme that the school had recently bought in to – Maths Makes Sense.

Designed and developed by Richard Duune, I first heard and saw Mr Duune and his new approach to Maths teaching in a Dispatches programme on Channel 4 in early 2010. (A related Math quiz) In ‘Kids Don’t Count’, featured in typical sensational broadcasting fashion, Mr Duune was brought in to ‘turn around’ Maths instruction at a couple of schools in the South East. The programme focussed mainly on the vast discrepancy in Maths ability among students and how being perceived as a boring subject, students were unable to answer some very basic Math questions.

The new Maths Makes Sense scheme is essentially a new style of presenting mathematics based on visual aids and models to both allow children to be able to better visualise the direct link between numbers and physical objects and a new style of teachings mathematics that rely significantly on the teacher to provide the information in an engaging, stimulating and fun way.

Read more »

Dec 13, 2010 - Parenting    No Comments

Thinking of Rosa…

I found out today that my friend Rosa’s little baby Isaac who was born prematurely has passed away.

I have not seen or spoken to R for years and years and we have only just connected through Facebook again. It was also on Facebook that I saw her first photos of baby Isaac; the same place I posted my congratulations and where I also read that Rosa had lost baby Isaac.

There seems to be some disconnect with all things happening as is usually the case when news is so constant, immediate and very virtual. The fact that we are 6000 miles away from each other, probably explains a lot.

Still as I thought of Rosa, I realise how grateful I should be. We have been have challenging times with Georgia recently. She is without a doubt a very bright, happy child, yet she is equally strong willed and stubborn. She knows what she wants and when she wants it, and it often feels as if we are constantly being dictated to by a 4 year old (although I’m sure it’s not entirely true!).

So today and for everyday moving forward, I will remember to hold my family a little closer and tell them that I love them.

Rest well sweet Isaac.

Our love, thoughts and prayers to you and your family Rosa.

Dec 7, 2010 - Parenting, Philosophy    No Comments

A Tale of Two Schools….and having a choice to make.

Choosing a School

I have been meaning to write about this ever since G started at her ‘new’ school, and that was back in September!

In between we’ve had the ‘New School’ experience, the Malaysia-n trip and now we’re in the midst of all the Xmas festivities I realised that I had better write about it before the year ran out!

Choosing a school can be as easy or as hard as you like it to be really, and at the end of the day, the child is still going to get an education (good or bad – is relative). We all want to do what is right and what is best for our children and so we make the effort and visit schools, talk to teachers, head teachers, other parents, listen to friends and relatives and basically anyone who has an opinion. But at the end of the day – the choice is your own and only your own to make.

I suspect it’s actually quite easy if there was no choice and there was only one school, but as we live within the catchment area for two, both very good, under-subscribed schools – it becomes a bit more complicated.

In signing Georgia up to the nearest nursery (attached to a school), rightly or wrongly convenience was completely the basis of my decision – it was a 5 minute flat walk away. If you like me, have grown up being driven and driving everywhere (blame malaysian weather!), and have a very reluctant walker for a child (I wonder why?) you would understand my motives. Still…it was a nice nursery and she absolutely loved one or two of her teachers, and that was nice.

There were however always sneaky little things that quite upset me. The children seemed to have to ‘fight their corner’ a lot. Sharing although emphasised verbally – never seemed to be practised. I noticed a change in behaviour in Georgia in that she used to be very sharing and giving and after a while she stopped and started to be more selfish and wary about sharing. I used to think it was a growing phase and time and time again we would keep telling her that visitors won’t take your toys home – but the message never really got through.

By this time, I had assumed that that was the way things were going to HAVE to be, and that that was the cultural difference. Fighting your corner, or standing up for yourself was always something associated with the Western culture, the submissive, respectful, silent accepting Asian never quite behaved like that! That is until I was convinced to actually go and have a look at the OTHER school!

And what a difference! Yes it is a church school (no we are not christians nor are we religious in any way) but it was amazing to see that with less than 1 mile between the two schools, you would not imagine two more different schools.

The children are actually happy going to school. Their teachers love and care about them and try so hard to make everyone feel welcomed. Georgia’s, now Class Teacher said to me “We have the best children in the World in our class!” I felt like hugging her there and then!

The children among their peers are so friendly and happy and they are always so concerned about their little friends and they willing share everything and take turns!

It sounds like quite the model school doesn’t it? Except that on paper i.e. ESTYN (OFSTED equivalent) reports, this school isn’t Outstanding, it’s only a Good, but in my experience and in talking to all the other parents at this school. No, it’s not perfect, there are computers that could work better, more space for the classes would be good, an enclosed outdoor space that the school could call it’s own would be fantastic, BUT the bottom line is, the children are happy there!

I’m happy that Georgia is there….she makes a big fuss about not wanting to go every morning – but that’s another story!

I suppose the lesson I’ve learnt is that there are Outstanding schools and there are Better than Outstanding schools, the question is whose list are you ticking off? If it’s your own, then you must be going down the right track. My criteria was a school that was going to treat my child as an individual, help her acheive all that she could with enough challenges to keep it exciting yet not too much that it would overwhelm her, and for now, I’m happy with my choice.

Are you? What were the things you looked for when looking at schools?