Alexander Averin

Friday, 11 September 2009

Not really a rant

Dear Diary,

One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings.  The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.  ~Carl Jung

I was in the Past Times shop recently in Shrewsbury and the Eleven-Plus Book caught my eye.  Genuine exam questions from yesteryear (what a lovely word yesteryear).    I purchased the book recently on a whim and partly because my middle grand-daughter is eleven and now goes to High School in a local market town.  (All secondary schools are called High Schools in Wales but in my day high schools were for the very bright indeed), 

Maybe I wanted to see if all the girls would be able to answer the questions, it might be a good test of  standards nowadays?    I did buy the book for S but still have it - she will get it but I haven’t got round to reading it yet.   Truth to tell though am I perhaps nervous at peeking at those kind of questions again?  Will I struggle with long division and the like?  (Yes!)

There were different exams set by different Exam Boards dependent upon where you lived.  I went to school in South London and from the age of eight I was lucky enough to go to an excellent junior school.  Before that I had been to an inferior school in an area not too far away but we had moved house so I changed schools.  As always, teaching is down to the quality of the teachers and I struck gold with Miss Bray (I think I have blogged about her before).  She was dedicated, round, gentle and kindly and she cared.  I was a bit of a lost and vulnerable child and she brought me out of myself a wee bit so I have a great deal to thank her for.  She would have been called a spinster in those days.  Remember that word?  Bit of an insult don’t you think, I hate labelling.  Come to think of it I was taught by many ‘spinsters’ at my grammar school, I guess married women gave up work in those days.  For reasons I won’t  bore you with I escaped an Irish Catholic education and from what I hear from friends and relatives who had one  I am not too sad about it.

I’m digressing again.

Back in those mists of yesteryear I passed the eleven-plus and to be honest (again) I just loved the kind of questions we were set.   I had been well prepared, I  loved challenges and loved words; not too good on the maths though but I knew my tables and I could add up and take away (what more do you need? - be honest now) so I must have got by in the arithmetic section. 

M is relaying the radio’s news to me, he is listening to the Today programme.  I have given up watching TV news and even avoid Today lately, preferring to scribble or read a novel.  I must say my blood pressure has lowered dramatically.  What M is telling me is old news in fact, the plans for all people mixing with children, even volunteers or visitors to schools to have to be CRB checked.  And people like authors  on school visits will have to pay (£80?) to be checked!  I know a couple of well known writers whose names I have forgotten have declined to do any more school visits which is such a great loss to the children involved.

This often-used phrase spills from my mouth:

 The world has gone mad..

Do you know anyone who hasn’t used this phrase?  I don’t.  I sometimes feel we are being invaded and under siege by an army of bureaucrats. God help us.  Just another nail in the coffin.  I know police checks have to be carried out on those who work with children.  I had one myself when I worked with them, in some jobs it is necessary but these people who sit in offices take everything to extremes.  Most child abuse takes place in the home in any case.  Extremism is something we should avoid - don’t you think it is the cause of most of the world’s troubles?  There should always be a place for compromise and good old common sense. (where has common sense gone?).

My brother told me that he was taking his wife’s cousin round South London recently on the heritage trail, the cousin was over from South Africa after many years away from the UK, he had left when he was a child.  They pulled up in the car outside his old school and the cousin pulled out his camera to take a pic for posterity.  Before my brother could say that would not go down well a teacher was making her way across the playground and admonishing them.  My brother explained the situation and voiced his doubts of any contravention of any actual law.   

What is the world coming to? 

Another well-worn phrase spills from me. 

I am not ranting, I am far too happy to rant today.   The sunny weather we have been having has revived me as it has the flowers in the garden; they are all bursting forth again and it is such a joy.   The sun is shining brightly and it is set fair for the weekend and please God, beyond.

Blessings are in order.

Last night’s moonlight.

Today’s sun on the water.

The grass which has been cut by M yesterday, his first chance for weeks and it was getting near knee high.

Wild Life in all its many forms.

Bless the birds and the bees, the garden is alive with both today. And I saw three wild ducks (mallards) fishing in our river, ducking and diving as they do.  They don’t visit often but I get really excited when they do.  I’m sure they were two parents teaching the young one how to fish (like the otters do with their young sometimes).  We have a really deep pool area in the river now which appeared after the Great Flood - I had visions of the girls swimming in there this summer but alas it has not been hot enough.

My fuchsias and montbretia which remind me of my roots in the best place in the world, the south west of Ireland.

Talking of roots I have been found on the Ancestry website by a relative who descends from an Irish couple who emigrated to London way back in yesteryear - we share a branch in our trees.  He lives in Canada and without the Ancestry site he would not have found me.  So this will be a final blessing along with the family site or LDS as some folk call it (I do).  If you are interested in doing your family tree these two sites are brilliant.  Ancestry is very well worth the subscription and you can access its records free in all UK libraries.  LDS is free.

Well I have rattled on a bit again. 

I’d best be off and get the day started.

May yours be a happy one.
Go mbeannai Dia duit,


Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I find such solace in the natural world whenever I feel that the man-made one has gone too mad to live in. Your words illustrate this perfectly.

Wishing you a lovely, sunny weekend!

Mark said...

The eleven plus - that takes me back. I think I was in the last year to sit it.


Nina Milton said...

Hi Cait,
lovely blog. I've just started on Blogspot ...
Haven't quite worked out how to create the columns you have with poetry, etc on same page, but I guess the techie stuff takes time!

Pondside said...

Not a rant - but perhaps it's because I share your view. Since Sept 11, 2001 this continent has given up on common sense and been ruled by fear - so the 'bad guys' win when the rest of us find our lives, freedom of movement and expression increasingly restricted.

Pam said...

A reflective post Cait. I enjoyed it very much. I too, become frustrated and upset at the world gone mad, and like to find solace in the natural world. I am slowly building a garden from nothing, and love to tend that, and the children I teach. You have chosen one of my favourite quotes, and I was so thrilled the first time I discovered it.Wishing you a pleasant weekend.

pinkfairygran said...

I failed the eleven plus, when I was expected to sail through it. In fact, most of my peers failed it, something which seemed to go uncommented upon at the time, but had anyone questioned us I am sure that we would have acted surprised at our failure, though deep inside, none of us wanted to leave. The next schools were the grammar (attended by snobs so we thought) and the secondary modern (attended by common kids with bad language and manners, so we thought) We seemed to think we were a separate race altogether, cossetted as we were in our little private convent school, some of us non-Catholics, but only a handful, money needed to keep the place going. Which it was to do for only four more years, when again, there was a choice, this time between going to the secondary modern or going out to work. All of us, bar one, chose the latter.

Frances said...

Cait, I am always grateful to see your words and think about your thoughts.

This was a wonderful post, full of starting points for my mind to pursue.


ds said...

In a world gone mad it is nice to have nature to provide solace. I was fascinated by this post. Thanks!

Irish Eyes said...

Gach focal - go h-an ceart ar fád, is maith liom an blog seo. Go raibh míle maith Cáit, and you're right...there is nowhere like Kerry!!! [biased opinion here!]

FireLight said...

This post was meant for me....a high school teacher. I have not been blogging in lately, but I intend to just read and browse this weekend. Rant on my dear; I share the same sense of the world going mad. I adore the Paul Henry in your header. And you have focused on what really matters. Thank you.

I have invited you to join in on a meme that I finally got around to posting. Come by The Keeping Room to see what it is all about and to see the Welsh pony of my childhood. No hurry, take your time and enjoy!

gaelikaa said...

I had an Irish Catholic education and I did find it rather nice because apparently in comparison with other systems there was quite an emphasis on language and literature rather than science and maths. That suited me no end as I love literature and reading, but apparently Ireland didn't produce too many doctors and scientists because of it. Well, I'm sure it's all been set to rights now. Well, hopefully, lol.....

CAMILLA said...

The eleven plus seems ages ago for me now Cait.! I had a wonderful English teacher, I was quite a shy young thing then but whenever Mr Edwards the English teacher gave lessons on English I was so excited, could listen to him for ages when he quoted poetry.

Never was so good at Maths, but I got by - just.

Wonderful post Cait.