Tuesday, 11 June 2013

I think it is time to start blogging again: Pedagogy - but why?

I haven't been on here for what seems like a year (2 months in fact). I have been very busy expanding: www.bedfordtutor.co.uk and am pleased to say my hard work is finally paying off!

The tutoring phenomenon got me thinking about that wonderful word - pedagogy!  This is possibly one of the most clumsy examples of Greek vocabulary and one word that seems to jolt off your tongue!

But laying this aside, can you teach someone to teach? This has been debated on my Facebook page for a few days and everybody seems to disagree with one another. I am afraid I am still of the mindset that teaching is a vocation and something that certain people are simply 'born to do'. Whilst one may get better at educating, some people are always going to be better teachers than others. I have always felt the need to educate, but cannot exist in a bureaucratic classroom environment where the only creativity exists in the rarely used art cupboard. Computers are rapidly replacing the kinaesthetic activities that taught me to count, spell and recognise a great diving beetle from a dragonfly nymph, and I hate this! Bureaucracy ensnares the naive teacher like a piece of fly paper, taking away creativity and replacing it with a series of carefully modelled exams and a curriculum which sees a screen as the new human. Children need their progress to be tested, but children also need to be children. My pupils learn through enjoying themselves and I am determined to ensure they leave their sessions smiling and happy! Why does the government now insist people are taught to teach? My mum was never taught pedagogy, but she managed to get me to recite the alphabet at two years of age. My best friend never gained a PGCE, but he trained me in creative writing and helped me publish a book! Many people still think you need a PGCE to teach, but frankly, I think this is ridiculous. I have always been a natural teacher and don't think other naturals should have to spend £6000 just to gain a piece of paper saying 'they can teach!' Even with all these 'wonderful' rules and regulations, we still have some terrible educators working in our schools - why do you think the private tutoring business is booming? Although I agree teachers who work in schools need to be trained, I think this training needs to be altered to encourage them to be creative and love their subject - rather than obsessed by testing and continually checking progress. Children are being mentally damaged by continuous testing and need an environment where they can learn at a pace that is right for them. We are all different and it is time society understood this. Some children may be reading certain words at 3, others may not reach this stage until they are 6. My job is to help children reach their potential, not the government's. I am not a trained teacher under government guidelines, but I know I can teach and will continue to help struggling children. I have a TA certificate and a degree and am willing to show the world teaching is an art - not just a set of rules that can be understood by anybody who wishes to part with £6000. If you have something to give to the world - go on and deliver!

Rant over... :)

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Murder at Libre Manor: Free from tomorrow for five days!



Monday, 8 April 2013

Rest in Peace, Maggie Thatch

It is with deep sympathy that I write this blog post - yes I am one of those few people that had respect for the late Mrs. Thatcher!

I was born in 1989, so never saw this prime minister in action. I do, however, respect her for carrying out a job that is still dominated by men and regarded as a traditionally masculine pursuit.

Maggie enraged the country with poll tax and annoyed the nation when she took away free milk - but she did have many personality traits that must be admired. Mrs. Thatcher was determined and believed in herself - qualities that all good leaders must possess. She had faith and ensured she never gave up - if only more people could be like her!

We need more strong leaders. We need people who believe they can make a different to the world. Leading isn't just a job for men, women can lead with just as much determination and assertiveness. We all make mistakes and we all have regrets, however, learning is only achieved through mishap. If we understand that good leadership comes through strong belief, we will see how our own leadership skills can be developed effectively!

Anybody can lead, but not everybody can lead well. To lead one needs to understand people, to respect and make decisions for the greater good. Margaret Thatcher made mistakes, but, by jove she was a great leader!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

So, what are the rules for writing?

Hello, everyone - I am writing this after spending a wonderful day cruising around the countryside on a warm spring day... yes, I did say SPRING! 

However hard I try, I still cannot get the whole 'local library won't have my book' thought out of my head. I have tried everything, but nothing appears to shift it - I reckon it may be there for a while yet! As I pondered earlier, I was inspired to write a blog post about the 'rules of writing'.

Up until now, I believed I could write in a correct way - but what is correct? I have read extracts from Ulysses and the style here certainly deviates from that taught a school. Quarter-page long sentences were hardly praised when I was still in full-time education and the use of commas, rather than full stops, doesn't fit in with my traditional view of 'Correct English'.

But since having my book refused by the library, my beliefs have changed with regard to the rules of writing. I do not believe there can possibly be solid rules for something as fluid as literature. Jane Eyre is a classic I am ploughing my way through at the moment, but her use of punctuation is completely different to anything I have seen from contemporary authors. Does this make her wrong? I don't think so!

Language evolves in the same way as human beings, altering to match its surroundings. I was criticised for using the word 'quintessential' in my book, as some people do not believe it is suitable for teenagers. While I do agree on one hand, another part of me wonders why young people cannot simply look up the meaning of a new word - surely using unusual vocabulary helps to teach people something? Every book is different and every writer uses language in a different way. I use more commas than some and less than others. I may use a hyphen instead of a semi-colon, or three dots instead of a simple full-stop. But does this make me wrong? Surely writing is there to be understood, just as art is there to be enjoyed. If people can understand a story, does it really matter if there is a comma out of place. We all speak differently and we all interpret in our own unique ways... what may be beautiful to one, may be ugly to another.

I thought I'd share my Crocus with you. I think you will all agree that these are beautiful! Our late spring has allowed them to keep flowering into April...

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Should anybody be able to get a book into their local library?!

I am writing this blog post after my recent experience with Bedford Borough Libraries. My book - Storme: www.belravenne.co.uk - is selling very well (over 150 copies in 8 weeks) and I thought that getting it in the local library would be a 'piece of cake' - pardon the cliche. However, this optimism was soon destroyed when I was told by a senior librarian that the book didn't fit 'their criteria'. I expected a ream of information as to why the content of the book was unsuitable for their library, but instead I was presented with a number of subjective reasons as to why the physical attributes of Storme were not acceptable. They picked up on the cover - my pride and joy and a popular design among teenagers - and even raised the issue that the spine and binding were of poor quality. I actually chose my specific publisher because of their high-quality bindings - how they picked this up as an issue I will never know? They also commented that the book has smudges - again incorrect, and even went as far as to mention the overall quality of the book. Pardon me, but I have been told that Storme is of 'exceptionally high-quality'; someone here is definitely pulling the wool over my eyes! This brings me to my main point! Shouldn't local books be given a place in local libraries? Waterstone's have my book and ARE selling my book. The library insists that it doesn't follow their criteria - but for goodness sake, there is no sex or nudity - it is not a 'Fifty Shades of Grey'! I am fighting this battle and will continue until I win. But, what do you think? Should local libraries encourage local authors? or should bureaucracy keep its tight hold on all our public services? Sometimes I wonder what I pay council-tax for?

Sunday, 31 March 2013

This weather...

I don't know about you, but I am starting to get utterly sick of this awful weather! We cannot go to the seaside, picnics are out of the question and it is even too cold to enjoy a nice cycle ride. Britain has never been blessed with the best climate, but I cannot ever remember a winter extending into April. Apparently the weather isn't set to improve until at least May, so better wrap up warm and keep those woollies out... What do you think of our long winter? Do you love it? Do you prefer ice and snow, or sun and sandals? I would love to hear your views!