Reading #blogsync

So I was reading @cherrylkd and @clyn40 joint post about their conversation about their reading habits. I found it really interesting and was prompted to write my own post so here I am.

As a child I was always surrounded by books. Both mum and dad were and still are avid readers of magazines and books. Mum being a teacher meant there were always loads of kids books and work bools around and I do remember using some of them for my own entertainment! I have a particular fondness for Fussbuzz for anyone who remembers that series. Mum used it a lot with some of her groups.

I remember being a good reader as a child. I would always bring my words home in a tobacco tin (one of the teachers or maybe their husbands were avid smokers as we all had them! I remember struggling to find things to read at school that I hadn’t already read several times and I remember resorting to reading National Geographic magazines of which there were many in the junior library. Authors such as Roald Dahl had been firm favourites as an upper junior, especially as we had written to him in Y5 and had had a lovely reply which I can still remember to this day. I also remember that I read The Hobbit but don’t remember whether or not I enjoyed it. I loved the Chronicles of Narnia and I loved the bbc children’s series too. My ideas I had created and their ideas were very similar.

Then something happened. Secondary school English is what happened to be precise.

The days of just reading and enjoying a book appeared to be gone forever. Instead as we read such classics as Adrian Mole, Of Mice and Men, Animal Farm, Romeo and Juliet, Roll of Thunder Hear my Cry and Z for Zakariah we had to look in detail at each page, each paragraph and what it all meant. I wasn’t just allowed to laugh at Adrian and his awkward teenage moments. I wasn’t allowed to be drawn in and taken away to the semi-realistic world of Z for Zakariah. I couldn’t enjoy one of the most well known love stories Shakespeare ever wrote. This is where my love of reading stopped.

This is sad but true. I couldn’t enjoy a book any more. This feeling stayed with me for a long long time, way past my time in high school, beyond 6th form college and past university. During that period it was all about reading for information and not for pleasure. I read so many interesting texts in those years, some of which I have revisited since, though I can say with honesty that my attempt to reread The Odyssey failed on numerous attempts. My classics teachers of Mr O’Brien and Mrs Harris did their job with such skill that I wanted them with me when I tried again.

When I got to university, the reading list was huge. Each subject had its own list plus people like Piaget and more general books about teaching from people like the fabulous Sue Cowley were all there for me to gain knowledge from. And I did. I took in lots. Heck I was even interviewed for one of Sue’s books many years ago and read it cover to cover. However. I can honestly say I read all these books because I felt I had to, not because I wanted to. My bookcase was weighed down with academic books alongside all the children’s books I’d owned as a child and bought as a teacher but no adult fiction could be seen.

Now where am I? Well somewhere between the two. I still read novels but few and far between and they are mostly “children’s books” such as the Harry Potter series (and yes I even went out at midnight to buy a couple of them and read them in a day in my years before becoming a mum!) or the crossover book ‘The curiois incident of the dog in the night time’ which I really really enjoyed. I still read the odd book related to my work, heck I even have a couple on my amazon wishlist for presents. I have also discovered the wonderful world of audio books. I have listened to a huge number of autobiographies from people such as Stephen Fry, Jennifer Saunders, David Attenborough, James Corden, Rob Brydon, Sue Johnston and many more. Listening to them telling their own life stories has been a real treat and keeps my toes in to the world of books.

I rarely read a book these days but I still read a lot. I am an avid user of the internet and I love to read twitter and facebook, blogs and articles. I also still read a lot of children’s books. Most of the time with my son. He adores bed time stories and I love that he loves it and that 20-30 minutes before his bedtime is the most precious time in my day on the nights it is my turn. I hope life in school, which seems to be filled with test after test these days will not turn him off books like it did me for a big part of my teenage and early adult life.




Teaching and the media

Teaching and how people perceive it is always in the media. ‘You only work 9-3’ and ‘You’re always on holiday’ are just two of the commonly heard phrases. Government policy on teaching is always changing, or so it seems. I qualified in 2002 and have seen goodness knows how many changes to the curriculum, strategies, policies etc. Each secretary of state for education seems to see it as their mission in life to annoy teachers as much as possible whilst wanting to come across as doing right by the children in the system at the time. 

At present there are huge changes going through and proposed for secondary education. I do not teach this age group so I can’t speak with any confidence about it, except to say that everything appears to be happening at breakneck speed without speaking to those who it affects; the teachers. How are they supposed to do the best for the children when they are having to redesign all those long, medium and short term plans that take hours and hours to put together? 

In primary the curriculum has big changes too. Some of it positive and some not. I have been away from mainstream primary education for 9 years now so I’m not up with details. Again however, teachers will be spending more and more time once the children have gone home and in the holidays replanning everything. 

Our professionalism is put under scrutiny all the time. Believe it or not we are professionals though you’d never guess by the way we are treated in the media. 

Ofsted’s agenda appears to be changing by the month and what they look for when they visit schools seems a mystery or bizarre at best. (Rapid progress in a 20 minute session for children with profound learning difficulties anyone?)

Licensing for teachers is the latest story to hit the headlines thanks to Tristram Hunt MP. Instead of listening to teachers and other staff in education he has gone for something yet again which appears to be teacher bashing. We are all ready subject to regular inspections, our pay is now linked to our performance (my feelings on this are maybe for another post) and are accountable in so many ways. We are always trying to learn and develop and continuing cpd is part of every school’s life. Why do we need licensing? 

Many feel that 2 year olds should be in school to help them have the best start. As an early years teacher and mother to a 3 and a half year old I can not disagree with this more. Our children need time to explore and play and be nurtured and cared for not in a school environment. 

I challenge anyone to find a teacher that is happy with the state of education at the moment. All we ask is that we are listened to and respected. We want what is best for the children in our care. We want them to achieve their very best. We want them to learn. Please please let us do this.