Saturday, September 23, 2006

Excellence cluster

Was there ever such a stupid phrase as 'excellence cluster'? This week has been an insight into the minds and pockets (of other peoples money) of the suits that run the LEA. Guess what, the new initiative for raising standards and stretching minds involves having a week where everyone in year 6 does Egypt all week. We will have the expert help of some whiz kid suits*, whose funding is for a week with us. I will run that by you again, as I have just remembered that for two of those days the wks* will be preparing a feast of academic and hands on treats lovingly prepared in the kitchens of various and varied resource banks of their own choosing. We in yr 6 have a box labelled Ancient Egypt, and seventy years experience, cunning and the ability to 'wing it' whilst reading Terry Deary in the loo, and have taken 1 hour after a busy day to cook up our delights.
I have been wondering if anyone from my past remembers those sessions in a Wimbledon middle school when we had IDE.That afternoon a week of mixed ability mayhem, all using the learning styles that they enjoyed and challenged them, doing pottery, drawing , interviews, dancing , and serious research of the book kind ,Encyclopedia Britannica not on line. All in an ants nest of INTER DISCIPLINARY ENQUIRY and resulting in the 1970 's version of ICT. This was a display in a classroom set aside just for the purpose. It would say 'Egypt' on the door for a term, until replace by something like 'Colour'. Models were lovingly arranged on tables and labelled with neat ink and white card. Booklets were placed on bookstands, best handwriting and pencilled illustrations in tiers to catch the eye. Children would show others what they had learned, Ancient Egypt was still Ancient Egypt, only the science has been updated since. Cine films would loop for an excited audience. Photos of the visit to the BM to see the real artefacts would be copydexed to black sugar paper. Those two hours in the queue with most of London, after school, with 30 children aged 13 is what I call a school trip. A freewill trip. Cost nothing. Children paid their own tube fares and entrance to the exhibition. Museum attendents calling out 'whose with this lot then?' as they all pointed to miniskirted miss and shout 'she is', in that queue ,to see the gleaming gold of that mask was something none of them will ever forget. Now husband , then boyfriend, remembers meeting us after his day in the city, a real suit, astounded that 4 purple could all be as tall as he.
Wandering off, going sentimental, searching for the nostalgia of the past. Yes and No. I have heard it all before, it is not new, only the names have changed. Multiple intelligences, VAK, mindmaps, emotional literacy; these are only words . I remember now how we thought IDE was the new black.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The bigger puddle

Dear David Hockney,
Your latest series of paintings of the countryside around here has intoxicated me . How did you think of making wheel ruts pink or finding so many shades of green for the spring Tunnel ? I am looking forward to seeing them for real . I know I wont look out of place in the Annely Juda gallery(Half-term) as I will wear my Turquoise boiled wool coat (you would love the colour). I have been thinking that my lump sum next year could willingly go on 'The Bigger Puddle' but it would only buy a dandelion in the left hand corner.So glad you have come to live amongst us. When lived and taught in London I missed our skies. Sometimes I would go and sit on the swing in the garden of my landlady and watch the sky, but it was so noisy and full of aeroplane trails. I did find a place , the viewing gallery in the Shell centre, and took the lift up there as often as I could, it was quiet. Now I drive home from school up Woldgate following the romans, filtering through lanes to Bartindale following the route of prehistoric man past Argham, and think the skies would have amazed all our forbears in just the same way. They were not very different from me and you.
Yours sincerely