Sunday, 1 November 2009

interesting experiment

As a spin off from my reading information on the inclusion of ICT into almost every aspect of daily life in the 21st century, I am curious as to how I would cope / manage / live a week in MY life without the intervention of 21st century technology.

Academically - I am not adverse to picking up a pen and notebook to assist me in my data collection for essays, assignments etc... however, my information resources are mostly 'virtual'. The delivery of teaching at nwhc is often through technological media, hence my learning is (mostly) reliant on ICT.

As a mum, I endeavour to provide a healthy diet for my family, using fresh produce on a daily basis, yet I shop one a fortnight. Mine (and my families) recreation includes watching television, playing games consoles and 'surfing' the web. Although we part-take in other activities, could we manage without these things completely?

Necessities of life - I dont post letters, I email or facebook people i need to contact. I dont go into town and manually transfer monies, I do it all online. I dont always go and pick my own spuds - someone in ASDA does it for me then delivers it to my doorstep. And so on..... Yes, these functions, services and outlets are there to be used and to make our lives a little less stressful and busy. Can we cope without them? I'm interested to find out. I'm sure my son and hubby may not be, but its an experiment I may very well undertake in the not to distant future.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

following on from Sir Terry Leahy class discussion ...

I have just caught an interview on the lunchtime news regarding Sir Terry Leahy's comments n the poor products of the education system. Ian Cheshire (Chief Exec. of the Kingfisher Group, who own, amongst others, B&Q), in part backed the notion that many children are leaving schools without 'Employability skills'. Unlike Sir Leahy, he didn't lay the blame solely at the feet of the education system. He claims that a lack of social skills is also to blame. Many children (and adults) lack good interview, communication and basic skills. He (Ian Cheshire) discussed the notion that many children now do not have a Saturday or part-time job, an outlet that would provide the opportunity to develop many 'life-skills'.

Does our curriculum allow time for the development of said skills? As Clare commented, many teachers face the prospect of a rigorously time-tabled day to accommodate the National Curriculum's prescribed outcomes? for thought.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Brians homework - Curriculum model for the 21st Century

My previous blog threw around some ideas concerning the structure of the school day. Although I still feel that for many parents (especially ones in employment), the constraints of 9am - 3pm prove problematic. Through the promotion and implementation of Extended Schools, the Government has recognised the need for extension of the school day. Although this is not a solution for all, and certainly not the initial reasoning behind the scheme, the logistics of organising the structure of a school day to suit all shift patterns, work rotas and employment types would be impossible. This not mentioning being counter productive to the education of the children attending the establishment.

I feel that the way to look forward is by looking back. The importance of education has progressed through the passage of time, mostly as a by-product of the society in which it dwelled. Compulsary education for 5-10year olds came into effect in 1880 following The Forster Act. Government recognised that for national progression, economic growth and global positioning, the United Kingdom needed to educated its' children. Children were 'taught' what they needed to thrive within their community. This is not a negative by all means, as in 1976 PM Callaghan also made clear that the purpose of education was to "equip children to fulfill a constructive place in society, and also to fit them to do a job of work". Enabling our children to survive in society is paramount, to me, to all that was recognised in 1880.

In my opinion, preparing children for the society in which the live is equally as important as aideing them in learning how to read, write and manage artithmatic (the three componants of education that have remainded constant). Do not mistake me, I believe strongly that the latter are fundamental skills that are required in day to day living. I also strongly believe that learning life skills such as problem solving in real situations (ie moral dilemmas, shopping tasks, journey planning) is a massivley important area. An area that can either stand alone or support an academic area. The difficulty in this task - a curriculum for the 21st century - is tapering everything down to subjects. Learning, especially in primary classrooms, comes from a multitude of media. Pinpointing one educational outcome from one 'input device' is not possible.

Returning to the structure of the schoolday, although I have no substansiating evidence, I do have a strong opinion on younger children having more academic sessions after lunch. My child, and many I am aware of, hit the 'lunch-time lag' post 12.30pm. I can speak from experience that the outcome of some tasks is measurabley different post lunchtime than prior to lunch. Tying in with learning life skills, I would propose that academic topics/subjects that have been taught during morning sessions can be complimented and supported with more practical and 'real-life' session in the afternoon. Many learning areas covered in extended schools include such tasks. If they are deemed important, they should be implemented into the classroom so all children get benefit from them.

As in history, society has dictated 'what we need' to survive. It is therefore that I say I would argue with confiction that the education provided in the 21st century reflect the 21st century itself.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

21st Century curriculum (?)

Firstly I must state that I am just playing around with ideas at the moment. I'm doing it publically so as to invite any input others wish to offer (and for which I will be extremely grateful).

Intially I am not going to look at the content of what I believe to be an appropriate curriculum for the 21st century, but more at the way day-to-day schooling is organised / structured. A (primary) school day for many begins at 9.00am and ends at 3.15pm, with a break for lunch at approximately 12.30ish.

I'm now calling on the extpertise of parents out there. Do your children seem more alert and aware prior to the 'lunch time lag'?

Although the curriculum covers a wide array of subjects, inevitally some academic subjects will be scheduled for the afternoon 'slots'.

Speaking purely as a mother of a 6 year old, I know that after lunch he will not be ready for heavy academia.

Returning to the 'timing' of the school day. How many parents have a 9.15am - 3pm job? Do we all work within the constraints of school hours? Do we all work part time?

Im just trying to build a picture. We recognise that society is changing - we are becoming more involved and reliant on ICT. For this reason, we are incorporating it into early learning - and this is found to be acceptable.

Would it be acceptable to presume that in early years many children perform more positively during morning sessions?

Like I said, this is an idea in it's infancy. I need to research it further.

Please get involved, I would love to hear any thoughts (they dont have to be supported by theory / fact / research either.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

hyperlinks - thanks Kat x

Access to moodle - check
Warwick log in sorted - check
Athens log in sorted - check
Blogging - check
Virginmedia tv working - +&*#$! - er, i mean uncheck
Target child secured - check
Older person identified - check
Hyperlinks - YEY - check

Thanks once again to the knowledge sharing within our group, I am now able to hyperlink successfully within text. Oooh, lets look at Lin's blog.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Jargon - mumbo jumbo or valid language?

After digesting the Childlink glossary (posted by Ihar), and the comment (on Ihar's blog) left by Lin, I have settled on the conclusion that there is a difference between jargon and terminology. This, I hasten to add, is my personal opinion based on a minimal amount of information.

My Dad, who was a wizz with all things mechanical, technological and worked within and alongside engineering teams on some pretty large scale projects, was a stickler for terminology. If an item of machinery had a specific name, then use it. If you required the precise tool to complete a task, ask for it by its correct name. He was very much of the opinion that using the correct terminology reduced confusion and promoted good working practice. An opinion I share. Surely if a surgeon needs a scalpel, he asks for a scalpel, not for 'one of those sharp pointy things'. A flippant example, but you get what I mean. This is what I would class as terminology. Relating this to Early Years, I feel that it is just as important. Possibly to persons not working within a school / social work setting an IEP is just three meaningless letters. For teachers and parents involved with a child with an IEP it is self explanatory. It is using the correct name for the tool.

Jargon, to me, is used to confuse people. My Nan, who is 83 years young, very often asks me to explain her mail to her because of all the "gobbledygook". Often, once all the 'jargon' has been filtered, the letters are self-explanatory. I believe that it is a tactic used to confuse, worry and often intimidate people. For example (using terminology relating to early years), if a parent was to receive communication from a school reading...

...following the LISM regarding the SpLD of 'X', it is the intention of the school to introduce 'X' to the SENCo. Inline with DSCF guidelines an IEP will be formulated for 'X'. Your assigned IPS will contact you shortly... would be fair to assume that some degree of confusion and uncertainty would be felt. Although the intention of the school would be to inform not perplex, using the correct terminology in this instance would possibly not be the most effective procedure.

I'm in agreement with Lin, that 'dumbing down' of the terminology used is counter productive to the training of new teachers / social workers etc... however, I think that differentiation between terminology and jargon needs to be identified and integrated into the learning of communication practices.

Returning to the title of this blog, I think I have expressed my view (which will be subject to change following further reading) on jargon / terminology. However, there is a generation that has developed it's own language - text (or txt) speak. Is this form of language soon to be incorporated into everyday language? mmm.... i'd best sign off before I head off at a tangent that I don't think I need to.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Birmingham Post - News - West Midlands News - Mum claimed tragic Khyra Ishaq was 'possessed', court hears

Shared via AddThis

Although it had been my intention this past few days to revisit the reports of Robin Alexander and Sir Jim Rose (as requested by Brian), I have found that in light of recent reports in the press; Vanessa George and Birmingham Social Sevices, my thoughts are yet again with children who have suffered, some irretrievably, at the hands of so called parents, carers and professionals. Prior to my 'rant' I suppose, I will add that I am fully aware that I have possibly not read all the details of these cases, and that my views have, in essence, been based on the media surrounding each case. Although I aim to look using an objective lens, as a human being, equipped with free thought and emotion, it is not always possible.

In response to a link Clare posted on facebook reporting on the horrendous crimes of Vanessa George and her associates, I commented that I did not want to publish my thoughts, certainly not in an open forum such as facebook. In reflection, I feel this was because, in truth, I think that her and her 'friends' are hideous, dangerous animals who have preyed on the vulnerability of babies and children just for 'kicks'. In my eyes, people like this do not deserve help, rehabilitation or even life - do to them what we do to other sick animals, quick injection and its all over. I am not ashamed of harbouring such feelings about these persons, but, possibly because of the nature of the career I wish to embark on, and being aware of the power of social networking sites, I felt it was best not to air my views there. One factor that hit me whilst reading the numerous reports surrounding this case, is the background each paper, from the sun to the times, has used for Vanessa George. In brief, she did not have the best upbringing, her father left her mother when she was young, they lived pretty much hand to mouth etc... Yes, this may be true, but is it an excuse? Does the general public (or Government) feel that such a background makes these crimes acceptable? Explanationable? Similarities to the mother of Baby P?

The link above relates to one of the cases being highlighted by a report into the poor standards of Birmingham Social Services, Khyra Ishaq. Again, another horrific read. Although social services were aware of the family, nothing was done to help the children, until it was too late. Surely withdrawing a child from school, refusing to let teachers, social workers and even police persons in to your property should ring some blummin big bells! Similarities have been drawn with the Climbe case - primarily the child being possessed. Again, is this another excuse Government are willing to accept?

Don't think this blog has a purpose other than for me to have a bit of a rant (one that it very un-objective at that). Does it make me feel any better? No, because give it a month or so and there will be yet another damning report into another social services department, school, hospital following the death of yet more helpless children.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Well, it is now early August and a whole two months since sitting our exams, it seems like an age away. The past two months have allowed me the opportunity to relax and reflect post exam, overcome my bewilderment and celebrate my results, enjoy a much needed holiday in the sun with Matt and Matthew and catch up on all the jobs that had been abandoned.

I'm now feeling that I want to get back to the books and start reading for the 2nd year of the course. The preliminary parts of my child study project are well underway, cant really move forward with that as the focus of my study is on the other side of the world at the mo (lucky chappie)! I'm reading all the information Lin has kindly emailed to us whenever I get a spare half hour - I think what I'm really trying to say is I'm actually missing the course. Although spare time is limited (no childcare and a rather demanding 6 years old), I find myself gravitating, once again, to the study to read, research and note take when possible.

I just hope that come September / October my enthusiasm for study does not abandon me.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

so...this is it then

I thought I would take this opportunity to update my blog as I'm more than positive that over the next 11 days (Yes! just 11 left), I will have very little spare time. It feels a little surreal that only 8 months ago I was embarking on this new venture in my life. I was excited, scared, worried I'd manage, unsure I'd make it.......but hey, I'm here and I'm determined that I'm gonna be here again in October.

Along the way, personal stuff aside, I feel I have been extremely lucky in working with and alongside the fab girls in this group. We've laughed, cried, worried and stressed together but more importantly, we have supported each other and, built some strong friendships! I must hasten to add, that we have also had the brilliant minds of Brian, Lin and Christine to draw from, so a big thank you to them too.

Thanks to you 2nd years too, you've guided us through your blogs and chats along the way too, good luck to you all for your exams and your transition to Warwick.

Right, this is it more facebook, eastenders or social life, (may squeeze another blog in if possible), good luck Clare, Katja, Naomi, Nic, Carrie, Emma and Kate. See you on the 1st!

Friday, 24 April 2009

Gervase Phinn

Hey Nic - 19th May (Tuesday) at the De Montfort Hall at 7.30pm. tickets are 15.50 + 1.50 booking fee. Looks like its selling well so need to get in there quick if we fancy going. Also any 2nd years, do you fancy joining us?

Sunday, 29 March 2009


After doing the obligatory weekend tidy up, I walked into my dining room to be met by a scene that was, well, surreal to say the least. For some reason something that Lin had said to us on Friday popped into my mind - how would a snapshot of our home depict our culture (as in family culture), well, I'll describe;

The dog, dressed in a green stripy tee-shirt was barking frantically at the cat, who not to be outdone was sporting a rather striking pink scrunchy on his tail. The reason for the barking was that the cat was perched upon the guinea pig cage, who was in turn squeaking heartily as his food bowl was empty. The guinea pig, who's haircut is far overdue, was attempting to retreat into his house but was being stopped by doing so by a huge raffia carrot. Meanwhile, my son and husband, oblivious to all the commotion were deep in discussion about whether a salivating , sonar detecting alien dog would be better at trapping a ten foot mutated frog than a bright red, four armed, four eyed strong man.
Slowly I placed my cuppa down and began to retreat from this parallel universe I had unwittingly stumbled into only to be halted by my son who looked at me quizzically and said "Are you alright mummy, you look a bit weird"!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

it'll all come out in the wash

Was going to start with 'this is just a quickie', but all my blogs tend to run along that vein. There is a truth in the statement though, as time is a valuable commodity at the moment. What with several pieces of work on the go..............
Anyhow, I'm not talking about that tonight, just thought I'd reflect a little on the two speakers we've had in from Warwick this week. It was good to hear the perspective of a student from the 2+2 degree (I'm sure i did the access course with her), but I did feel some of the comments were a little 'flippant' and could have been a more objective - but it was her opinion after all. (I hope that doesn't sound mean - it's not meant too). The visit from Dr Sarah Dahl today I found very interesting. I felt it was a very 'true to life' insight into how things 'work' at Warwick, and I liked her honesty regarding what will be expected of us. I'm very much the type of person that as long as I know what lies ahead for me - no matter how daunting - I feel more comfortable than everything being 'sugar coated'.
It is going to be difficult at times, what with juggling childcare, work, study schedules, lecture times etc.... but the end result will be worth it. Although I am saying this, I am also very glad that I have another year before I have to contemplate making further changes to home life and increasing my workload two-fold, but hey, as my Nan keeps telling me "It'll all come out in the wash"!

Thursday, 26 February 2009


At last, I can breath a sigh of relief...phew...I finally feel as though I am on top of my college work at last. Since loosing my mum in October, for obvious reasons I have had the concentration span of a gnat. If I'm going to be completely honest, if it wasn't for my fab hubby Matt and my gorgeous son Matthew, I think I would have pretty much cracked up by now. Not only did her passing knock me flat on my back, it bought back all the memories of when Dad died too. I did debate as to whether I could continue on with the course as I had no motivation, no drive and no passion left. It was a struggle to get out of bed each morning, to eat, drink, even to breathe. I don't know how, or why, but this past week has seen the haze that has surrounded me for the past 4 months begin to lift. I'm so glad I didn't decide to leave the course, as I know my parents wouldn't have wanted me to do that. Somehow, through the stress of completing my last essay, something 'clicked' again. I'm getting that passion and drive back. I'm more determined than ever to succeed, to pass this degree with Honours, to wear that gown and mortar-board - for me, for Matt, for Matthew, but most of all, for my fantastic parents!

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Study Skills - just a quickie seems an age away. I've just been going through my folder for this topic and am finding it quite strange reading some of the analytic comments I'd made about the first few lessons. It's as though I'm reading someone else's work. Also, looking at the time chart that we had to fill in has also given me a bit of a 'giggle'. I think it worked out I was doing about 3 hours housework a day and (during that week) about 1 hours study...ha times have changed. I dont think I'd like to admit how much, or little housework is done by me now, and as for the study - it's certainly more than 1 hour!!!

Friday, 6 February 2009

follow this link to see John Smid speak about Love In Action. Have found a lot of stuff on you tube just by putting in his name orLove In Action. Have a look - does his justification winning you over?

fish can't fly

This video has thrown me into a bit of a quandary as how to approach the essay for Lin. I think our discussion afterwards raised numerous valid points that could be incorporated into the body of the essay - I'm just not sure how to tackle it yet, mmmm....need a bit of a think.

The film itself was extremely emotive and I can't understand how these organisations could justify what they were doing to these terribly vulnerable people. I've made no bones about my views on religion, and although I respect others choices in religious matters, it baffles me how if God (whoever she or he may be), is the creator of us all, and is such a wondrous person, his / her followers can inflict such pain and suffering in His or Her name? Maybe it is just my ignorance on the subject showing through, but I just can't get my head around it.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

An aside...

I LOVE THE SNOW!!!!!! I must agree with Clare about wanting an extra day to play. Unfortunately missed most of the fun early on on Monday as I wasn't too well, but definitely made up for it in the afternoon. Went sledging, snowballing - even attempted to build an igloo (Matthew desperately wanted one). I would like to comment though on all the negative reports today in the papers and on TV about people not getting in too work. I completely understand the economic climate at the moment, and yes, financially the UK did suffer as a direct cause of people being unable to get into work (to the tune of 1.2 billion I believe), but families were at home together - mostly having fun in the snow - kids were not sitting in front of TV sets / computers / games consoles - they were out in the fresh air playing in the snow, many couldn't use their cars - so they walked the snow. See where I'm going with this? I just feel that in this financially testing and worrying time (far many), an unexpected day off with our loved ones, having fun, is not such a bad thing after all is it?

Social Experiment

I didn't catch it in the papers (as i do have the habit of forgetting to buy them), but have seen on the news today that the first part of a four part documentary will be broadcast tonight called 'girls and boys alone', or something to that effect. Its a 'social experiment' and two groups of 8 - 11 year olds were basically left to live alone for two weeks. There has been a considerable amount of controversy over it so far, so I'm going to tune in and take a look for myself. Its on channel 4 at 9pm. Should be an interesting watch.

Friday, 30 January 2009

A Very Useful Morning

Just thought I'd comment on how useful I found this mornings session with Ihar. I'd already checked out the college library online, but I hadn't looked at, or even realised, the full extent of the resources on there for us to access. Although I agree with Lin in that it is a lot to take in and cope with in our first year, I do, however, think that such a session would have been very beneficial if scheduled into the study skills week, or at the beginning of the course. I'm pretty worried about the Warwick email / password change, so that is my next port of call - and also the Athens chase up.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

I'm Embracing Technology!

Well, I felt it was time I made the concerted effort to embrace the technology I've been pretty scared of for the past...well...forever really. Don't get me wrong, I can do the basics, but I'm not used to this 'blogging' thing. I'm not entirely sure how often I'll remember to keep up to date with this blog, but I'll try my best to remember.

I must admit that since starting this course my mind has turned into one of those fancy crayons you used to get as a child, you know the sort, you take one colour from the top of the tube, pop in it the bottom and another colour crayon pops out of the top. The only problem for me is that when I take out one colour, I forget to put it back in the bottom, so the crayon doesn't work!?!? I'm not making sense am I?

So, my first blog. Hurrah, I feel quite relieved.