Friday, 30 January 2009

Continuing Professional Ennuiment

Here's the thing. All us teachers in FE and HE have to do at least 30 hours continuing professional development every year so that we can keep our wizened and often nicotine stained fingers on the pulse of our specialist areas. Because I work in teacher education my specialist area is no longer interesting things like History (which is essentially everything that ever happened anywhere so can't possibly be dull before you say that) but things to do with teaching.

It's not often that CPD opportunities catch my eye but an e mail came round the other day for an all day training event. I wouldn't have given it a second thought but the subject of the e mail was 'Teaching without Learning'. I've seen enough classes in my role as observer to know that this is one CPD event very few teachers need. I looked further and saw that it should have been 'Teaching without Talking'. I have to confess to in class verbosity so this appealed and I duly signed up.

I had to leave early though. The bloke who ran the session was amiable, knowledgeable and enthusiastic but, crucially, he rarely shut up.

Next week I am running a workshop: 'Teaching without Irony'.

Slap Fu

I asked the boy how his day at school was.
' Me and bob had a dead arm fight and then me and jack arm wrestled.'
'No I mean, how was the class bit- where you learnt stuff?'
'What did you do?'
'Like what?'
'Can't remember.'
'So you didn't learn anything?'
'Yes we did.'
'If you can't remember, then you didn't learn it.'
'Oh, we had IT.'
'That's good, what did you do?'
'Me and Dick are way ahead and the supply teacher let us play games.'
'Did you have a GOOD day?'
'Yeah it was great. I invented a new martial art. It's called Slap Fu. You put one hand behind your back and wave your arms about and score points if you manage to slap someone in the face.'

Saturday, 24 January 2009

focus and perspective

There are many explanations for the crisis at White Hart Lane at the moment. There's no questioning the quality of individual players but they:
'lack grit'
'think they're better than they are'
'fancy themselves'
'can't focus'
'lose concentration'
'lack the will to play for the shirt'

...and so on. I was pleased when we signed Palacios from Wigan. He was strong in midfield and really up for the game. 'That's the sort of player we need!' I said. Then I read stuff like this article below. It's an awful situation and I wouldn't want to belittle it but surely with this simmering in the background we could lose the player or at least his focus at any time.

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — The mother of Tottenham midfielder Wilson Palacios has pleaded with kidnappers to free her younger son more than a year after he was abducted.
Orfilia Suazo sobbed during an interview with local Channel 5 television as she implored the kidnappers to "release my little Edwin Rene." There has been no trace of Edwin Rene Palacios since armed assailants abducted him from his home in October 2007. He was 16 at the time.
Police say the family paid a ransom of US$500,000, but he was not released. In Thursday's interview, Suazo implored anyone who knew of her son's fate to come forward.
Tottenham reached a deal with English Premier League rival Wigan on Wednesday to sign 24-year-old Wilson Palacios.

One thing it does do is put the whole thing into perspective. We get to Wembley on Wednesday but in a manner so unflattering you'd think the Earth was about to implode. Never before has success been so limply embraced. We go to Old Trafford today and face an absolute thumping. The thing is though, when there's no match on, when I'm not in the stands and when I'm not repelling the odious sneer of an armchair Woolwich Wanderer I can see how it really makes no difference whatsoever. Rationally, there's no reason why I should care. Things like the fate of Palacios' brother and the dreadful situations in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe should keep a logical person's brain in perspective. But it doesn't. I've been saying all week that I agree with Harry. If we get stuffed today it's for the best. But when that happens I am going to be pissed off. I will probably shout at someone who doesn't deserve it. I will go all tribal and starey eyed. You can take man from his cave but you can't take the troglodyte out of the man.

Friday, 23 January 2009


It's pretty cliched to say that the East End of London is a place of contrasts but sometimes it throws things at you that so beg the phrase it's impossible to avoid. The boy and I went to have a look at the Swiss Re building (better known as the Gherkin) at night when we stayed in Spitalfields over Christmas. It was cold but worth seeing it close up in that crisp, bleak and empty atmosphere that you could only get in financial district on Christmas day at midnight. On the way back we spotted this very near to where some of my family are from (Frying Pan Alley) going back to the beginning of the 18th Century. I liked this a lot so went back the next day to take a picture. I'm glad the frontages are round this way and not the other. The old one, though redundant in terms of its original function, shows what we have lost with a lot of functional new architecture. The boy is interested in architecture and has often said it's something he'd like to do. If he does get into it I'm going to try to make him reintroduce the ornate Victorian facades. Or at least I hope he has the right combination of hindsight and foresight to build his glass and steel monstrosities behind the remnants of the past.

Talking about this reminded me of one of the things that struck me most about Berlin. The Kaiser Wilhem Kirche in the centre of the city is a memorial to the devastation in the war and symbolic of the forward thinking new Germany that grew from the ashes of the Third Reich. It's strange how the 'new' church is already so dated and anachronistic while the shell of the original maintains of lot of its splendour despite the shrapnel marks and what it may have once represented.

filling for a shilling

Usually I'm unable to bring things back from my frequent visits to the 1960s. Mostly I go to see Spurs when they were good and laugh at my lardy toddler self eat bigger breakfasts than I do now. I must have put this copy of Family Circle in my back pocket though and somehow it came with me. It's funny how things like money and the meaning of words can change so dramatically and yet our preoccupations are fundamentally unaltered: fattening foods, having gay houses and so on. In fact I saw these when I went up to best mate's house recently. His mum has a collection dating back to the time it was 'Family Arc'. There be slim pickings for the paper recycling man up there for sure. It's lucky they have a huge house. Here's another one:

I am beginning to wonder though. Maybe the magazine was way ahead of its time. The gift in that picture would be a great place to keep nipple rings and little bottles of amyl nitrate. I'm going to look online to see if 'family circle' means something very specific in Polari.


Sometimes a picture really does speak a thousand words. Most of them in this case are urrrgggghh. This is best mate's elbow. He reckons that's water in there. He's half man, half dromedary.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Credit crunch

There are a few moments in my life that still provoke such pained embarrassment that I couldn't possibly divulge them here. Those moments of sudden realisation that I have been a complete arse are not that dissimilar to another emotional sensation: the heart stopping moments when you realise something seems to have gone horribly wrong. This could, and often does, run snugly alongside the embarrassment feeling but it is also just as likely to be someone else's fault. Things like:

-the moment you know someone is going to pull out in front of your dozy mate and you're going to hit him at 60MPH and all you can do is say 'BASTARD' instead of something useful like 'I say, look out'

-the moment after you distribute a public examination paper and the students have started writing when you realise that someone has given you next week's paper by mistake

-The moment after you have spent hours trying to explain to a relative that your girlfriend is vegetarian and, lulled into a false sense of security, you are happy with the quiche they prepared only to hear them say 'He told me you didn't eat meat so I picked all the bacon out of your portion'

-the moment the doors of a train open, you start to get aboard (head first of course) only to find the doors slamming shut on your face, projecting your glasses into the middle of a packed carriage and leaving you with two black stripes down your face that you don't notice until you get to work and the pretty girl that works in the security office points them out

Now some of the above may or may not have happened to me; really they're just there to help you empathise with the feelings. Worse than all those though was the feeling I got last night when checking my various bank accounts only to find the one that was supposed to have a very healthy balance instead read £7.31. It took me a visit to the bank this morning to find out what they'd done with my money but that initial feeling of shock that I'd been scammed or the government had used my money to bail out Trevor's Merseyside Bank or something was awful. Surprisingly I regained my composure quite quickly, assuming that they had transferred it somewhere else. This is in fact what had happened and they tell me they're going to put it back. From now on I'm going to keep it under my mattress. I live at 34 Acacia Avenue...


I reckon the whole Spurs squad has this SAD thing. How else can you account for the string of miserable performances when contrasted with how well they played in the summer? It can't all be David Bentley's fault. I haven't even had time to rant about it on here but I have been playing with this new podcasting toy. Now you can hear my tuppence worth and benefit from my miserable voice as well. I don't always sound this gloomy; usually I'm even worse.

Gabcast! COYS #1

just click on the little play arrow to listen then click on it again when you realise what a terrible mistake you've made and begin to question your very existence when it has come to this...