11 Ways Finland’s Education System Shows Us that “Less is More”.

Filling My Map

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When I left my 7th grade math classroom for my Fulbright research assignment in Finland I thought I would come back from this experience with more inspiring, engaging, innovative lessons.  I expected to have great new ideas on how to teach my mathematics curriculum and I would revamp my lessons so that I could include more curriculum, more math and get students to think more, talk more and do more math.

This drive to do more and More and MORE is a state of existence for most teachers in the US….it is engrained in us from day one.  There is a constant pressure to push our students to the next level to have them do bigger and better things.  The lessons have to be more exciting, more engaging and cover more content.  This phenomena  is driven by data, or parents, or administrators or simply by our work-centric society where we…

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Comic Relief is a bad joke; Make charity history!

Very good read IMO

Agent of History

There are many institutions in our culture and society that, for me, highlight the depth of our dysfunctionality and despair. Such institutions express the shocking degree to which a social system of artificially-created human misery has been so successfully naturalised that its universality and ubiquity has been rendered invisible. They also reveal how we are, wittingly or unwittingly, complicit in hiding truth, and how depressingly limited our collective imagination is. One such institution in the UK is the annual national do-something-silly-for-charity-shenanigan. We have two primary charitythons like this: Comic Relief and Children in Need. On both these occasions, Brits come together to dress up, do silly things, bake cakes, etc in order to raise money for the poor and needy at home and abroad. The fact that every year the poor and needy are still with us and that their poverty and need grows is barely questioned and…

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Is schadenfreude fatal?

Wee Ginger Dug

Less than two months since Scotland voted No, and it’s become clear that the big loser from the independence referendum isn’t the SNP or the other pro-independence parties, it’s Labour. Is schadenfreude fatal? I may have given up ciggies just to die from an overdose of smugness, gloating, and an overwhelming urge to yell out: “Ha ha! Fuckin’ TELT yese!”

Johann Lamont famously told Scots that we are not genetically programmed to make decisions, but now she herself has been programmed – a bit like a washing machine – and has decided to leave Labour to its rinse and spin cycle. The woman who has spent the last two years telling us that being ruled from London like a branch office is a good thing has resigned as leader of British Labour in Scotland – because the party in Scotland is being run from London like a branch office. No…

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A veteran teacher turned coach shadows 2 students for 2 days – a sobering lesson learned

Very worth a read

Granted, and...

The following account comes from a veteran HS teacher who just became a Coach in her building. Because her experience is so vivid and sobering I have kept her identity anonymous. But nothing she describes is any different than my own experience in sitting in HS classes for long periods of time. And this report of course accords fully with the results of our student surveys. 

I have made a terrible mistake.

I waited fourteen years to do something that I should have done my first year of teaching: shadow a student for a day. It was so eye-opening that I wish I could go back to every class of students I ever had right now and change a minimum of ten things – the layout, the lesson plan, the checks for understanding. Most of it!

This is the first year I am working in a school but not teaching…

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Bewitched, bothered and bewildered!

Hey ho

Right here’s the thing it’s day 3 after the referendum and I still feel odd, I know that is not the right word but I have no other word, no-one I love has died, is ill or been hurt, the weather is pretty good for this time of year, the kids are in good form (for a Monday) Strictly Come Dancing starts very soon and I have a vested interest, it is incredibly exciting to have a pal actually in the show!!! I am loving the new Doctor Who with Peter Capaldi and so too is my 10 year old who was unsure as he had bonded with the lovely Matt Smith’s doctor! Does anyone else think Clara Oswald looks a little like Kate Midleton? I thoroughly enjoyed watching the DVD “About Time” with Domhnall Gleeson on Friday night, a movie that many would balk at as another one of Richard Curtis’s quirky english romantic comedies. And everything is almost like it was before. And yet everything, absolutely everything, is not like it was before! I feel so sad, utterly bereft and robbed, you see I was carried along and involved up to my oxters in the huge and positive YES momentum and truly sincerely believed “this was it” Scotland would vote in favour and 3 days on we’d be dealing with this as the reality, but no we’re not. I am not going to write here about the masses of communications since then, the vote rigging accusations, the ugliness in Glasgow the next couple of nights, the resignation of Salmond, the disarray now amongst the 3 amigos from Westminster about the promises they made. Equally I have no doubt that a YES vote would have also left the country in disarray with many no voters feeling as I do now.

If YES had won it would have been incredibly close so the NO camp would be feeling gutted etc and we would still be facing a divided country with a similar amount of people feeling robbed/cheated etc. I imagine there would have been even more trouble on the streets of Glasgow and likely elsewhere. However I am perplexed and sad that when I posted about a personal unhappy moment when I felt the need to call my kid back to change his Scotland top (he didn’t by the way)  someone misunderstood what I wrote and felt that it was anti-Scottish/Glasgow and that I was blaming the NO camp for the ugliness that erupted in Glasgow after the result, which I most definitely wasn’t, it is true these lowlifes were using the no vote as an excuse to display their bigotry and hatred but there are lowlifes on both sides and hatred and bigotry is worldwide. Again my personal experience has been it is very more prevalent in Glasgow and the west coast due to it’s history but that doesn’t make me anti-Glasgow or Scotland!

Since Saturday I have seen some posts with words along the lines of “ok done and dusted, time to shake hands, congratulate the winners, move on together etc…..” and of course for all decent folk who still want the best for Scotland this is the best way to go, however please realise that some of us on the losing side who believed and campaigned passionately will need some time (ok I know that I will, I can’t talk for anyone else but evidence would suggest there are others out there like me?) So I think there needs to be a little bit of kindness and patience shown to us who are not quite ready to tear down our YES signs, put it all away and accept the outcome and gallantly move forward. Clearly many have now become politically engaged and are viewing this as a continuing goal and are even more galvanised on the back of valid outrage at the shenanigans of a biased media and the elite in Westminster. There is some talk that there are quite a few folk regretting their no vote as it looks as if the hasty promises of the Westminster 3 and Gordon Brown etc were just that, hasty promises and it will be in no way straightforward to implement these promises. I get there is a palpable relief amongst many on the NO side but no-one can deny there is a flatness in the air a sense of loss, a sense of “is that it?” “what now?” is it business as usual?!

Personally I foresee that the last minute Westminster promises will falter or at the very least take interminably long to implement and be agreed upon and the folk that were undecided and swung to no on the back of these will be outraged enough next time to grab the opportunity that only being fully Independent can give. However in saying that Scotland is very clearly almost half and half split between those who do and always will want to be part of the UK and those who don’t. So even if at some point down the line YES becomes the reality there will be huge numbers of unhappy folk like I am now. I like to think that an Independent Scotland will relatively quickly prove to be a better, happier, more equal and just society to live and that relations with the rest of the UK will also be so much better that many on the NO side will be won over but one only has to look over to Northern Ireland to see that on both sides there are those that will stick stubbornly to their beliefs and what they hold true come hell or high water.

For me I am going to go along to events that are for folk like me, the aftermath, the “what next?’ the bewildered the “I now regret voting no” ‘the as yet still undecideds!” I believe I will join a party that sees Independence as a most important goal and hopefully this will give me a purpose a positive endeavour. I hope to engage with other YES folk as this will make me smile some, but I hope to engage with many of the still undecideds or soft no’s, maybe even some hard no’s, anyone really who is willing to be a bit open and discuss and debate. On both sides I hope kindness prevails there is no “I told you so” no backlash. We all live in Scotland and love this place and want the best for us all don’t we? We disagree on how to achieve this but the onus is on all of us to stay engaged and informed, to not expect mainstream media to provide all or indeed any of the truth/answers and not have a bias, there is bias everywhere but it is possible to access facts and figures and intelligent educated people sharing what they know without a vested economic elite interest. I am going to try hard not to be a total bore on my social media but I’m not making any promises. I appreciate many voted on either side without ever posting a thing as that is how they played it. I however became so galvanised that I considered it vital to share anything I thought would help inform folk and help them decide and look in the right places for information that was impossible to find in the more biased mainstream places and I am not going to apologise for that as folk can easily unfriend/block etc if they are not interested. I got plenty of feedback that folk were liking my passion and posts and I am happy that some voted YES on the back of me and that is incredibly affirming. I do of course hope that I haven’t alienated any good friends who were voting NO but I don’t believe I have. Instead I’ve had some nice messages just asking am I ok and that they feel for me as they know I was so passionate but I did not step over that line to be intimidating with it!

I was talking with David (the hubby) about how I had never experienced anything akin to this ever as it has been a totally unique thing for me, he spoke about the General Election of 1992 where the Tories got back in and just how utterly devastated the majority in Scotland were and so began this road as Scotland became more and more distanced from Westminster. I have been watching Russell Brand The Trews for sometime and I can’t fault much of what he says on many of the current world situations, he is also very entertaining and I am glad of any light relief! I swear i just hope he doesn’t come to some sticky end as he is gaining traction in a big way as so many of us are so utterly fed up with how our countries are being run and the incredible imbalance that exists.

So yeah time to sign off, I can’t wait to go along to “after the referendum….” this evening in Glasgow with Lesley Riddoch and some other lovely clever folk and let’s just see where this road goes.

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Imagine this…… :'(

Ok here’s the thing just now, imagine calling ur 13 yr old kid back as he rushed for the train grinning and carrying on (not a care in the world) with his pal and there’s me having a laugh with them, then all of a sudden I’m shouting him back and haggling with him to change his top! Why says u? WHY?! Because he has put on a Scotland football top (he is not a kid who ever looks in the mirror, this is what he has found and shoved on without any thought) so why have I called him back?! Because he is heading into his drama group in the city centre, because he is going to hang out with his pal in town for a wee while afterwards, because wearing that top might highlight him as a being on the YES side! Anyone who knows me knows I am not a worrier I happily and joyously love my kids having their independence and watch them thrive with that trust, it never ever occurs to me that bad stuff might happen to them it really does not, I’m often the one forgetting to keep in touch with them and touch base not the other way round! I think media scaremongering and helicopter parenting is god awful! BUT there is tension and ugliness in Glasgow right now and this has really made me pause for thought, do I want to live here anymore?! I did not grow up with this, my kids are growing up with it, is this what I want for them to have in their lives, really?! Do I move back to where I grew up or just out get away from the west coast and the bigotry?! Right now I am so so sad. Thoughts?!!

From Glasgow with love……my final indeyref post (eh well before the vote is done anyway!)

Ok i’ll be voting later on today, what can I say to any undecideds, only this, that I have engaged and talked to lots and lots of folk, out on my dog walks, at doors that I go to when I’m working, with friends and acquaintances. I truly hope that I have not in any way made anyone feel intimidated because I am a YES. I have been honest I have journeyed from a no to a don’t know to a yes, I made this journey because I took time to read and listen an look stuff up and pay very little attention to politicians on both sides! I have been compelled to blog for the first time ever (having sworn there’s a book in here bursting to come out for 20 odd years and have a blogger a/c for years lying blank) BUT here’s one significant thing that I have noticed for sure, there is a huge silent NO out there, some say they have been afraid or unwilling to say they are a no, others are just doing their thing and don’t want to talk about it and that’s all fine, but I can’t help but see that while there have been very sure no folk and indeed yes folk all along it is the very sure NO folk who are totally uninterested in listening or researching anything, admirable to me that they are so incredibly sure of their stance but so sad and shortsighted too. The many who have become YES voters and shocked the polls were once undecided or NO, they have been brave and willing to research, talk, listen and engage fully to come to an informed decision.
I really will feel so cheated if no wins by a margin and the reason it does is because so many of the no voters have been no from day one and not once looked to educate themselves, find out more and have a proper serious soul search and conversation with themselves and thus be open and willing to listen and perhaps switch sides! Of course the same can be said for the 100% YES (from day one voters) but we know that the YES side was in the minority and has increased, this can only be coming from undecideds and former no voters who have educated themselves become disillusioned with the NO side. Andy Murray has come out and said the negative and disingenuous NO campaign has swung it for him, economically he has no personal worries so perhaps no need for him to decide based on real facts. If many YES folk have come because the NO campaign hacked them off, well that’s great too but voting YES to me is not because a campaign has won me over it is because I really truly with all my heart and head believe YES is right for Scotland and the rest of the UK! Please if u’re truly undecided as u hover with ur pen over the boxes to tick, don’t swing towards the NO say f**k it and tick the YES please?!!!