45+ Hearts Afire

Dig them up

And dust them down,

The relics,

Hearts exhumed

From passion,

Buried deep.

Guard them well,

Protect them,

Arms surrounded,

Stolen once,

Returned,

Ours birthed to keep

Flame still burning,

Flaring,

Burning brighter,

Hearts afire,

Action,

Growth anew,

Buried not,

No fear,

We’re here,

We’re stronger,

45+

Treasured,

Holding true.

 

«««««ZOOM»»»»»

I’m doomed, alas!

It cannot be.

6 1/2 weeks felt like 3.

And as I sit

At 12.15

I ponder all these days have seen,

The plans I had

That went astray

As I relaxed, relearned to play.

I did not paint the garden fence,

Nor tidied wardrobes as I should,

I really wasn’t very good

At doing all I said I might

Or sticking to a plan at all

But what a blast! I had a ball.

And so, although

This night right here

Ends liberty of carefree cheer,

Off to school,

To class I stride

Knowing well, deep down inside,

That, even though I love to teach,

«««««Tempus fugit, really fast»»»»»

More holidays will soon be cast.

I love my job!

‘No’ to Arrested Development

See how she sits in her high chair,

Obedient child to the last,

See how she sups up her porridge,

Flavoured with history past.

 

See how she spits out the spoonful,

Proferred by patronage hand,

See how she picks up her own now,

Infancy making a stand.

 

See how she learns from endeavour,

As natural an act as can be,

See how she grows to an adult,

Independent, self-nourished and free.

 

See how some children, retarded

By parents who will not let go,

Develop arrested behaviours,

Damaged by some who don’t know

 

That nothing is worth being stuck there,

Harnessed in chair like a child.

It breaks under pressure from fairy tales,

Sometimes we’re born to be wild.

 

Wild as the woad on our faces

When history wrote out our path,

But timing is now, and with courage,

Freedom not given, we grasp

 

The spoon from the parent who knows not

A whit of development’s way.

Our children are free as a nation, come

September 18th, ‘Yes!’, Independence Day.

In The Cloisters

One of my nieces graduated yesterday from Glasgow University, a beautiful young woman now independent from the hallowed halls of a structure of sublime architecture. My camera phone does not do the cloisters justice but I hope my words may. There were tears of pride and happiness as the 100 or so new graduates from the Veterinary School took their Hippocratic Oath and tears of familial love as the sworn-in veterinarians applauded their family and those who had guided their path for their five years of study. It was very moving. I slept for 10 hours straight when I came home!

 

The cloisters

 

Under shelter’d walkway ’round the courtyard of my soul,

In custom-built protection I may stroll

Some time or two, meandering in seclusion,

In contemplating fragments of the whole.

 

Colonnades supporting covered arches, portico to all that lies beyond,

Finger’d thoughts meander deftly, softly, touching swaying ferns and synapse’d fronds,

Face uplifted to the filter’d breezes,

Spirit sails on sun-streaked golden pond.

 

Arcade where columns peak to vaulted vantage, background buzz of bees and dulcet drone,

Nestled hemisphere of hermit’s haven, causes sought beneath a hallow’d dome

Where intersections advocate for essence,

Intercede and plead my way back home.

 

In teardrops’ rain a moment of calm capture, the briefest sort of pleasant reverie,

Infused prayer, exhaled from central solstice, length of one, eternal brevity,

Whose hush of rapid rapture leaves me breathless,

Gasping for source-poured liquidity.

 

In quiet cloisters fit for pensive purpose, open galleries portray their ancient frames,

Past and present catch up to the future, in cathedral’s mind where echoes may be tamed,

Till tumult teems again ‘mid errant pedestrian,

But solace sought in silent space still reigns.

 

Rebecca’s graduation coincided with her dad’s – my brother –  34 years ago and the Independence Day celebrated by Americans everywhere. I hope your day of gratitude for liberation was as special as that of my niece’s. I hope your future shines from cloistered thought.

Mental Health, Spectrums, Guns, Copernicus and other normal stuff

I might get my arse metaphorically kicked for this post. But here goes nothing.

A few weeks ago I read a post here where Twindaddy speaks on that awful shooting in Santa Barbara and other matters arising from it. When I read it a few light bulbs went off in my head but nothing I could quite put my finger on exactly. I just knew that certain words were jumping out at me and that I had a sense of something. Since then I’ve been thinking – dangerous pastime – and I’ve read a number of other things and heard some more that make me want to put the ideas together into some sort of coherent thought. I’ll let you be the judge of that. I know what I mean.

First off, I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m a teacher. Kids who come under my radar are aged 3 to 12. I’ve been doing this job now for over thirty years. And I’ve seen changes not only in the way children are taught but in the children themselves. In the past, I would occasionally come across a child with behaviour issues. It might not even have been in my own class but there were always at least a few in any school who were known to all the staff as ‘problem children’.

Nowadays, only having one or two in a class would be a miracle. And I’m talking from the earliest classes here. The youngest age group. Behaviour problems that beg to be addressed and solutions to be found. Not for the teacher’s sake although, god knows, it’s a damn sight easier to teach children who are prepared to be taught than to root out the reasons why so many children demonstrate disturbed behaviour.

No, the reason the problems need addressing is because the behaviour of these children impacts negatively on the learning environment and on the other children present in the class. Not to mention the fact that the children who have the problems are among some of the most unhappy little people you may ever come across. Their unhappiness though impacts on society as a whole. Now, in the present time. And later, when problematic becomes unmanaged and unmanageable. Later, when children are grown to adults and they carry with them the scars of a childhood that should never have been.

The job I’ve been doing the last nine years or so is called Area Cover. I go to many different schools as and when required, taking whatever class the headteacher needs me to cover. Sometimes it’s for a year, sometimes for half a day. Mostly it’s for a number of weeks or months at a time. I love it. Prior to doing Area Cover I was in the same school all the time and I got fed up with school politics and the same faces. Also, I had a bad bout of depression around that time and resigned from teaching. Just like that.

One of the reasons I probably was so depressed was that I had a child in my class that year who was a real problem. Not to me. I loved him. But his life was a Dickensian novel. His mother was a prostitute at home to feed her drug habit, his father was in prison and he was left responsible for a two year old child. He begged for food around doors in his neighbourhood – quite a tough one – and came to school late every day. He got into fights with the other children, he used language that they were mostly scandalised at and he had a whole lot  more to worry about than whether he had his homework with him. He was too busy dealing with life in its most raw form.

At a meeting with his social worker and the head teacher I sat, waiting for his guardian – an aunt who had deigned to accommodate him under the stairs, a la Harry Potter – to make an appearance. She didn’t. Meanwhile, I was fretting that my own children, being minded by my mum, would be wondering where I was and why I wasn’t home yet. The social worker talked of this and that and how the problem would continue to grow as we saw more children being born to drug addicts and the children themselves going on to become parents and not knowing how to parent. I could feel my heart sinking inside like a stone and I just wanted to get home to my own kids to hold them and hug them and let them know that they were loved.

The meeting was abandoned and I drove home the three or four miles in my minibus – our then family vehicle to accommodate the five children I already had and the sixth I was expecting.

I cried all the way home, picked up my own kids, and then spoke to my husband that night about the boy in my class and how I just wanted to bring him home. This was not an option but I couldn’t shake the feeling that this child would be ok if only he had love and normality.

I went off on maternity leave shortly afterwards and never returned. Every time I thought of going back I thought of this boy who had eventually been taken into care, probably with no likelihood of fostering or adoption. His problems would have made him unwanted by many. And he had done nothing to deserve it. Except be born. His hand had been dealt and it was shit.

That was around twelve years ago. Every class then had a kid with some problem or other although his was by far and away the worst, at that time, that I’d ever come across.

Now, by nature of the job I do, I see cases like his to different degrees. I’m in and out of ‘good areas’ and ‘bad areas’ but the problems occur right across the spectrum.

Which kind of brings me to one of the words that Twindaddy used in his post. Asperger’s.

Given that I teach in so many schools and so many classes I do, naturally, encounter children with a range of difficulties. Asperger’s is just one form of autism on the Autistic Spectrum. And I still require help in managing the many different aspects of autism that I may encounter. Not being an expert on it means that I look to the experts for help in doing the best I can to aid learning for children whose needs are different than the norm. This year, for the first time, I’ve also worked with children with mental impairment and/or physical disabilities. The first time left me shell-shocked and in need of wine at the end of the day.

Then I began to enjoy it in a way I hadn’t expected. The challenge of reaching children whose difficulties were more than the average expected proved exciting in a way I wouldn’t have believed. I accidentally one day had a child in stitches laughing and tried to remember what I’d said that had communicated itself to her when usually she sat in her wheelchair unable to speak but obviously taking in more than I’d given her credit for. Then I realised I hadn’t said anything special, just spoken to her as I’d speak to any of the other children I usually teach. I’d made some remark that she’d found funny and as soon as I realised the range of her understanding it became a challenge with me to see if I could get her and a few others laughing. Maybe that’s not my job. But, faced with children who appear to be incapable of normal interaction and discovering that their abilities and difficulties varied hugely all in one class, inspired for me a new way to work with them than my initial reaction had suggested. My perceptions were wrong.

What I do know is that while they had learning difficulties this in no way reflected the level of violence they were capable of. Most of them were pussy cats. One or two certainly could kick off and would invariably turn over a chair or two before taking themselves off to a conveniently padded room that allowed them to vent their anger/frustrations in safety.

We don’t have padded rooms as a matter of course attached to classrooms. That’s only in those units where the risk is deemed sufficient to protect the child from themselves.

But. And this is a big but. In mainstream classes I have wished, for the sake of the children concerned, that there were such rooms. There are children deemed to be normal whose behaviours are violent and aggressive and whose only apparent recourse is venting in action and voice. And then tears.

These are not happy children. These are not ‘normal’ children because their childhoods are not normal. In almost every case there are facts that become apparent that explain the reasons for their behaviour. And, behind every one, there is at least one adult whose inability to parent effectively, for whatever reasons,  is a major factor in their child’s behaviour and unhappiness.

And if you’re unhappy in childhood what chance do you have for a normal adulthood, free of mental torment?

Which kind of brings me to Rene’s post Monkeys and Morality from Hank Green, one half of the brother team who, through their online vlogs, seek to educate a world to more than video games and shallow thought. Their bite-sized education should be compulsory for many if not all parents and adults who seek to understand how we as humans tick. This particular video addresses significant areas in child development. This is the stuff I studied at college. I have no idea whether it is still taught to teachers although I have my doubts based on certain information I’m gathering around education, how it’s taught and what training is given to future educators. Whole other post. And a rather worrying one.

Children are not small adults. That’s the main thing. Their normal development is dependent on kind touch and an authoritative but understanding parenting style that guides but explains. It is dependent on interaction from parents/carers that expresses concern and love in a way that we think everyone knows but not all practise.

The results of non-contact as outlined in the video and conducted as an experiment on monkeys a fair number of years ago reflects the many negative aspects of absence of parental contact and care-giving. It is so worth a watch. (11.38 mins worth)

The unfortunate infant monkey in the experiment manifested self-abusive behaviours and later went on to become incapable of parenting when allowed to breed. It had no idea what to do. How could it? Imagine generations of the same scenario.

Imagine generations of the same scenario among humans. Humans with their supposedly greater capacity to reason and communicate. We don’t have to imagine. It is happening now. Where we live. Everywhere. There are children being born to parents whose neglect of love in a meaningful way is and has been impacting on the capabilities subsequent generations have to show love. Both for themselves and for others.

I’d say that affects mental health. It doesn’t perhaps cover all range of mental illnesses and the reasons for them. But it sure goes some way to understanding why so many suffer in ways that cannot be explained or diagnosed through medical knowledge and why so many have need of psychiatric assistance to unravel the damage often done in the earliest formative years.

So are any of us normal?

I’m thinking of my own parents here. My father was a strict man. He had standards of behaviour he expected us to live by. But he was also very loving and explained the world to us in ways we could understand. My mother was more of a soft mark when it came to getting what we wanted but she was also no pushover and tempered giving with explanations of why certain things had to be, the practicalities of life. She opened up a world of questions for us and allowed free speech in a way that my dad sometimes overruled by virtue of his fatherhood.  The ‘because I said so’ school.

Between the two of them I guess there was a balance. But does that mean I’m normal? I have suffered from depression off and on since I was about twelve. I get angst ridden about the world, my world, my ability to cope with certain aspects of life. Then I come out of it.

I’ve called myself here an optimistic depressive. Then I came across a blog post, that I can’t remember where, put my phraseology into another light. So now I’m a flexible optimist. I do believe that most things turn out for the best and trust way too often when experience should have taught me otherwise. Maybe I’m just a bit thick in that department. But it’s who I am and I accept it. Just as I accept that there will be times when my flexible optimism takes a bit of a nose dive and leaves me wondering WTF?

I’m operating on a spectrum. A range of feelings and emotions and life-experiences that colour how I perceive and react to the good and bad stuff that happens to us all. So, sometimes I cope. Sometimes I don’t. Then I do again.

Since I started here just over a year ago I have come to realise, in a way that I might never otherwise have, that pretty much everybody appears to be operating on this spectrum of mental health. And I kind of think that’s normal. Maybe we should stop thinking of mental health as the presence or absence of an illness diagnosed or otherwise and perhaps perceive it as a spectrum we all operate on, sometimes verging on the extremes for one reason or another be it chemical or circumstantial but with each of us sliding along it dependent on our ability to cope with any given set of circumstances at any given time based on life experiences and the tools to cope with them.

Or would that be a Copernican idea too far?

And what the hell does all of this have to do with guns? Or the control of them?

You might be aware that here in the UK we don’t have the ‘right to bear arms’ either selectively interpreting the Second Amendment or otherwise. Our police aren’t armed either. Except in exceptional circumstances. I haven’t really weighed in on this in the past because I’ve thought that others might think, ‘Shut the fuck up. This has nothing to do with you.’ And maybe it hasn’t.

But an outside perspective, I’ve decided, can sometimes help. That’s my reasoning. And I’m sticking to it.

It seems every time there is an atrocity committed that a reason behind it has to be found. That a possible diagnosis of mental illness can excuse or explain why someone takes a gun and essentially executes innocents. But I think that’s a cop out. How many people do you know who have mental health issues and how many of those are likely to harm anyone in that way other than possibly themselves?

Of those I have taught and those I still do I could lay bets on who would likely be the perpetrator of such an act and the most likely candidates I can think of given their penchant for violence and aggression are those who live with that as their childhood. And even that doesn’t signify that they would. They’re much more likely to commit suicide too. Or go on to inflict the same rotten childhood on their own young in the absence of any better example or overriding desire. But, if I were to seek reasons why someone randomly opens fire I’d be looking at their childhood for answers. Who we become is formed essentially in the earliest of years. What scars we carry or otherwise remain until relieved in some way.

If screening for mental health issues were to become a factor in determining who should have the right to carry a gun then that would have to be extended to all those who have had a childhood of violence or neglect or control or laxity. That’s a lot of screening. And who knows who might slip through? Could be the police officer who rescues an abused or neglected child and whose own mental trigger determines whether that parent should live or die.

We are too complex as beings to determine these things based on some random testing. We are too complex as beings to be judged on mental stability based on others’ perceptions of what mental health and illness are. But, even monkeys know that love and nurture determine how we perceive the world around us. And that its absence muddies the colours of the spectrum of life from one end to the other.

Asperger’s when mentioned in TD’s post got me thinking about how so much of life is on a spectrum of one sort or another. Happiness/sadness. Pain/joy. Reality/unreality. Positivity/negativity. Knowledge/ignorance. Love/hate. Right/wrong. Evil/goodness. Innocence/guilt.  Everything in between is deemed normal. But we all shift on the spectrums. For good or bad. We cope sometimes. We don’t sometimes. Our perceptions change and reflect circumstances and mitigating factors.

Maybe, in any extreme, there will always be the potential for someone to snap and react in a totally shocking way. Whether by gun or knife or any other weapon. Arming a population with guns – and I would include police here – increases the risk of greater damage than would otherwise be the case. Who can possibly know the internal workings of any mind and whose hand might itch to avenge their own unhappiness? The child that snaps in class may have been sitting quite calmly five minutes earlier before erupting over apparently nothing. I don’t want an unhappy anyone armed for more than turning over a few chairs with no padded room available to let off steam.

I don’t know what’s normal and what’s not other than what we perceive in general terms but how many of us fit into the general?

I’m choosing to see normal as life operating on various spectrums, all interconnected, all having significance. It won’t cure mental illnesses where medical diagnosis says medicate. It won’t change children and adults who operate on the Autistic Spectrum when recognised. All it changes for me is my perception. That maybe there are many spectrums we don’t yet think of. For me, my own little Copernican Revolution. Something of a shift in my cosmos.

Arse now bent over for a kicking. I’m hoping I’ve been more lucid than I suspect I have but I did want to get this down.

I had been attempting to comment on another much more succinct post on the subject of gun control when I lost it all to my kindle. It was getting way too long-winded anyway. Much like this post. If you’ve reached the end here, thank you for reading all the way through. I don’t even know if I’ve answered all my own thoughts on this. I’ll probably mull away some more especially if feedback suggests I’m way off mark or there are other things I should have weighted more.

Anyway, thanks for reading. Not only this post but all the bits and pieces I write. And thanks too for all that you write that gives me food for thought. Even if those thoughts are scattered at times.

The Meaningful Key

Minus mic,

his voice still carried,

barely and with just enough humour

to detect genuine humility

and passion.

He spoke

of early sadness,

not being good enough

and

finding meaning.

He spoke

of childhood,

of family split

and dodging school

to fail.

He spoke

of finding

worth in himself

through purpose

and work

and sharing

a shed

with rats,

cockroaches,

scary spiders

and other youths

in a far-off land

where native children

were taught in awe and desperation,

drinking thirstily,

desperate for education.

He spoke

of forgiving himself

and his mum,

of whispered prayer

to find strength.

He spoke

of changes

in direction

to aspire

to doctor dream,

of local service

then returning

to Africa,

giving back

what he had found.

He spoke

of waiting soon

his first child –

to spontaneous applause

at his awed thrill.

His face lit

the stage.

A lad, I thought,

of tender years

for nothing

marred

his glowing face.

But experience

lent truth

to his age

and joy in life.

From sad and broken beginnings,

he spoke,

while I choked back tears

at radiant happiness

and a voice

that spoke

to youths

and adults alike.

He spoke

of finding

the meaningful key.

A Schoolboy’s Sins

Obsidian eyes

strip colour from his whipped soul,

volcanic centre

pulsing,

pushing,

thrusting

to tensioned skin and beyond.

His haloed aura

shooting sulphorous, searing flares,

purpled haze of rage, a scarlet maze,

nothing muted in violent

whippet thin lips

twsting, ‘fuck you’s’, to all,

his sundry, motley enemy

of stunned football laughter and giggling girls.

Absent abundant charm,

intelligence,

humor,

wit,

gone with his glorious smile.

All this,

in the shortest of longest moments

before the tears,

blind, burning anguish

of a silent voice,

forbidden to reveal

the cost no child will willingly pay.

So silent.

Then violent.

Souls warping nicely for future

atrocities.

Blessed, burnt souls –

the child sacrificed –

on the altar of adult

duplicity, supidity

and,

quite possibly,

the same reasonable rage.

All our sins.

Orpheus And Our Underworld

Now I could just post this poem and say nowt. I could. But I won’t. I’m on the letter ‘O’ in my self-imposed challenge to work through myths and legends by the alphabet. And I thought ‘O’ would be a doddle. Orpheus tries to rescue lover from the underworld. Fails. A breeze.

But I didn’t count on t’internet. And me. And other bloggers. And being on holiday.

Therefore, more time on my hands than usual, time to read blogs, politics raises its demonic head, read, comment, read, let’s write the poem, research, read, link, read, wtf!, read some more, link. You know what I mean. A blogger’s journey. Sort of typical.

So, this is now a mishmash of mythology, politics, spirituality and a bit of quantum theory thrown in for good measure. Oh aye, and music too. Well, he was a terrific musician according to lore. And music’s the bees’ knees when it comes to muse. And lulling us all into a false sense of security. Or possibly an awakening. See what I mean? Very convoluted in connotations. And I’ve only had coffee all day so it is what it is.

 

Blessed and cursed in timely measure,

Divided from the one,

Into Hades, sought his treasure,

Promises undone.

Forsworn to love, deprived of her,

Abandoned at the gate,

Bereft belief, faith destroyed,

New mysteries promulgate.

One who outsung sirens,

Enabled Jason’s might,

In muse and music invoked man

To lesser, greater rites.

Are we still lulled by Orphean lyre

While devils dance our fate?

   Compelled by those whom power sires

While they, ourselves, berate.

 

If you get the chance, you might want to check out some of the reasons behind this version of the poem. As I said, a blogger’s wonderland out there.

http://syndaxvuzz.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/we-are-in-great-danger-ex-banker-details-how-mega-banks-destroyed-america/

http://syndaxvuzz.wordpress.com/about/

http://colemining.wordpress.com/2014/04/15/the-devils-music/

And a comment from Mark, on one of my posts, that was timely.

I’m just…thinking…(now that could be dangerous 🙂 ). There has been a little uproar over the last few weeks with a pile (and I say that with tongue in cheek) of politicians getting roasted by our ICAC (Independant Commision Against Corruption). So far, ICAC 6 (and possibly more) – Politicians 0. And just to show how deep it goes, our very own Barry O’farrell, Premier of NSW resigned this morning because he had his fingers in the till…with more to come.
I’m like a kid at a puppet show, the stupidity’s plus the ego’s are unbelievable. Every second word out of their mouth is ‘I can’t remember’. If it wasn’t so incredible I’d laugh. As it is, I’m so disgusted I can’t even cry.
I think I might go steal something and just tell the police ‘I can’t remember’. And the atrocity of it all. they’ll just walk away with the odd resignation. If it was you or I, we’d be in jail for a very long time.
Sorry, starting to blow my bugle 🙂
Was just thinking of stirring the pot with a website, to get an honest opinion from the public and just see how many people are sick and tired of this deceit, lies and thumbing their noses at us ‘the people’ that are forced to vote for this stupidity every 4 years. It’s like…here, use your Democratic right to be sh*t on or pee’d on from a great height. Oh, I’m so excited, which way should I go!
Right, that’s enough, time to go and sleep on it…maybe something will come up from spirit in my sleep 🙂

 

 

 

 

Power To All Our Friends…..

So I ‘do’ poetry and fantasy and sensuality. A little eroticism goes a long way for me too. I ‘do’ family and politics. And pretty much anything that comes up my humph if the truth be told. And I’m partial to the truth. Even though it hurts sometimes.

There’s something of a crisis occurring on this little planet of ours. And all the sex and romance in the world can’t nullify its presence.

Huge stuff.

Stuff that puts matters of shagging and candlelit dinners into the shadows. Stuff that affects us all. And our kids.

There’s a power battle going on. Yup. Let’s call it evil and good. Devil versus God. Call it what you will. Well, no. For the sake of argument and clarity let’s call it what it is.

It is the battle between selfishness and the well-being of humans as a species.

Have I got that quite right? Let me think. Certain individuals acting individually or corporately to further their own ends here ensuring a world of humanity destined to servitude and alienation from self-determination and continuity of a thinking and free species?

Would that be about right?

Now, I’m no expert on anything. Other than, possibly, the method and manner of primary education and child development. I studied that shit. Well, I passed papers on it. And I’ve practised it for around thirty years. So, something of an expert I’d hazard.

Also, I have to admit, family members (who shall remain nameless) have accused me of having more brains than common sense. I’ve had to own up to that a fair few times I have to admit. Embarrassing moments when, well, never mind when. ‘Nuff said.

So I get that I’m no guru. Nor wizard of any description. I’m not even up on some of the current news happenings because they depress the hell out of me.

But I do know a few things.

I recognise common sense when I see it. I do think. I’m not always right. Although don’t tell my weans and man that.

But there’s an awful lot of stuff coming together for me at the moment.

Oh, first let me warn some people that this could get political.

Sorry, scratch that. It is political. It’s also spiritual. It’s also practical. It has its roots in humanity and a god I believe and trust in. A god who gave us the free will to get on with it. The capacity to think. And a source of love that is endless and self-generating once harnessed.

Now, I know that Cole would maybe have issues with the god part but she’s so cool she’ll allow it. Each to their own as it were. She’s so cool ice freezes further in her presence before melting under her persuasive and reasoned arguments. And the heat of her passion for right. She epitomises for me an upbringing of stellar quality, so obviously surrounded by love and logic that reaches out to embrace humanity and clarify some misguided notions. She wants a better world. Speaks for a better educated populace that is capable of reasoning and value judgements that go beyond myths and legends. Even while she loves and knows the myths that created much of what we believe. How cool is that?

Now I separate here with her on the presence of omnipotent forces. But I also feel that my faith and hers are so similar in essence.

Like Beth, a woman of thought and feeling, I share their desire and hope for a better world to leave our children. For a better world that we can live in right here and now. Beth is so on the mark with common sense and intellect. So practical. And articulate. She’d sure as hell make a better job of this post than me.

Both Beth and Cole have written extensively on education and the demerits of its current state in each of their countries. I’ve written a bit about it myself.

Aspirationally, every culture once sought to educate their children to the point, at least, of literacy and numeracy. Teachers engaged in this as a priority. Some took rather strange routes to achieving this aim I grant you and not all of them laudable.

But, in literacy especially, and in exposure to thoughts written and recorded from the beginnings of time we learn about our world. In the humanities we reach and delve into the commonality of human experience and seek our place in becoming explorers of a brave new world.

Unless, of course, education is dumbed down. Unless, of course, it benefits some higher authority to produce semi-literate individuals whose driving force is survival and fear. Or articulate beings but whose motivations are other than communal growth and welfare. Where is the brave new world and the hope of all our futures? Where are the original thinkers of a new dawn as each generation must prove to be?

Where is the action?

Currently, governments the world over are being manipulated and, more likely, controlled by bodies that do not represent the people they were elected to represent.

Yeah, yeah, conspiracy, blah.

Well if I’m paranoid it’s only because I can tell when some big bastard is following me. I hear them breathing, I sense their presence, I see their footprints when I look behind me. I know when I’m about to be shafted. The signs are there. Let’s face it, it’s not really ‘about to be’. We are currently being screwed by entities that exist to serve self. These entities, however, are no demons wrought from mythology. Rather, they are the personification of the greed and selfishness inherent in us all if we choose not to control those instincts for a more valid and worthwhile national and global state of affairs.

Now I don’t know about you but when I succumb to pleasures of the flesh I say if, I say when, I say who, I say yes. Or no.  Even in the lawfully binding contract of marriage I have authority over my own person.

I want to view the family as the epitome of government.

OK not all families operate under the same rules. But the common factor usually, or ideally, is a desire to further the individual membership while retaining a sense of the whole and working together towards an advancement of individual talents and worth, while not destroying the fabric of the whole support system.

It doesn’t always work. More’s the pity.

But, in whatever form the family takes, where there is love and a desire to cultivate that love through education and acknowledgement of its intrinsic, unique and constituent parts there is hope. Hope that new and brave ideas germinate and take root. Hope that the world continues. That it recognises that humanity is but a blip on the planet and, without intervention on all our parts, the world may continue but we may not. Not in any sense worthy of recording in history.

Gawd, I’ve gone off on one.

This is so not what where this post was leading.

Let’s see if I can break the habits of a lifetime.

Power.

Literally and metaphorically.

Is it just me or has anyone else spotted the obvious?

On this gorgeous big planet of ours there is a renewable source of energy in every country. Every single one. Name one where the sun doesn’t shine. Or wind doesn’t blow. Or waters don’t flow. Even if we only have one out of three we have the capacity to generate power repeatedly.

We in Scotland would have to depend more on the water and wind option. But I’m good with that. Might as well get some benefit from the crap weather.

Tell me. Is there a place on earth where some renewable form of energy does not exist?

Might the ability and will to generate it be the answer to some of the conflicts that abound worldwide?

Yes there will always be greedy bastards who want to make more from whatever sources they can conjure up, manufacture trouble where peace could exist. Carve out of the earth cash and chaos where order and sustenance could prevail.

But that’s kind of where education comes in. If we know. If we care. If we have the will.

I knew I’d get there in the end.

Just always takes a bit of time with me.

And I know. Before anyone says it. It has been mentioned by family members (who shall still remain nameless) that I could personally supply the grid with enough air to supply the needs of Scotland for generations to come. But I’m kinda good with that too.

Now, Cliff Richards kind of says what I’m saying and you’ve got to have a laugh in the midst of all the serious stuff. So, If you can take his words seriously while doubling up at the costume and dance routine so much the better. Who knew, Steve, that the Eurovision Song Contest would feature in one of my posts? Not me, that’s for sure. But more power to it if, occasionally, we get classics like this!

Please take the time if you can to check out the links mentioned. You won’t be sorry. The world needs people of this calibre. I’m proud to follow their thoughts and journey.

 

 

 

 

Hands Up!

Hands up if you’ve ever brushed your teeth in school…..in a classroom…..with every other child in your class?

Wait, let me count. Hands right up……That would be nearly none, I’m thinking. Very close to zero. And, quite possibly, a what the hell is she talking about? Yeah, me too.

Why the hell has it become the case that teachers have now become responsible in many schools for the dental hygiene of the weans?

And I don’t mean teaching the children about the benefits of good oral hygiene, how necessary it is to reduce intake of sugary and acidic foods to allay the onset of dental caries. Neither do I mean carrying out a little project looking at the composition of the tooth from enamel through to nerve. Nor looking at the dental formula for canines, incisors and molars. Nor looking at a model of the human tooth while identifying all the ways to keep them healthy and avoid the dreaded filling or extraction.

No. I’m talking about 30 odd toothbrushes, in a handy plastic covered box, distributed each day to every child who then lines up to have a little bit of toothpaste squirted on it by teacher. Then have the whole toothbrushing experience timed for two minutes while Miss issues appropriate instructions.

If there is anything that gets my gag reflex going it is being in the same room as someone brushing their teeth. I don’t quite know why but it is akin, for me, to having someone scrape their nails down a chalkboard. I shudder. I suppress as best I can a salivary onslaught that threatens to induce vomit.

I witnessed this little spectacle recently and tried with every fibre of my being not to boak at the sound and sight of so many engaged in what I think is quite a personal task.

I use an electric one so I hear its gentle buzz rather than the sound of a brush on teeth. But I can’t even be in the same room as my kids when they brush. I did it in the early days and even brushed them for them when they were young. But that’s a bit like changing your own wean’s shitty nappy. Can do.

My main point here, however, is less to do with this nauseating practice than it is to do with the fact that parental responsibility is either being hijacked or abrogated and I’m fed up with teachers being asked to carry the can for every task that was once the responsibility of parents.

There is so much more that I could write here. And I intend to.

I’m looking at education in a different light these days. Have been for some time. But it’s coming to a head. Rising, as it were. A bit like the bile I feel rising in my throat every time I attend another meeting where we, as teachers, are informed of the latest piece of nonsense that is now ours to carry. While I question, ‘What about literacy and numeracy?’

As it happens, I consider myself something of an expert on multiple aspects of education. But I never signed up to be a feckin’ dentist.