Taking stock is a natural human instinct, which probably gave form to the two-headed Roman god Janus, from whom we get January. It can mean taking out the contents of a purse or wallet and checking how much cash you’ve got or perhaps a visit to the cashpoint, or online banking, especially at this time of year; can I afford yet another super-sized television?
Taking stock can mean counting your blessings, for the roof over your head, the season of gluttony and excess gift giving and receiving that you have just enjoyed, that you have a job which brings in regular amounts of money, enabling you to take advantage of holidays or replace the broken essential electrical items.
Of course, for some, taking stock might indicate all the above as negatives, in which case cutting cloth accordingly might be needed. Diets and exercise will be the subject of staffroom discussion. The current Twitter slow chat looking at teacher well-being may well, over time, conflate all these elements.
Contentment might be a useful reflection point. Am I happy with my lot? Is my discontent due to jealousy and envy, a desire for more? If nothing changes, will I retain a sense of balance? Because, when all is said and done, it is when aspects of life become unbalanced, they destabilise and can impact on other areas of life too. Life can often get in the way. You only have to have a cold for a while to know that. It could be worse.
Am I trying to fit in too much, around that which I must do, in an attempt to create a full life? Do I crave “busyness” and am I unhappy with stillness and, for example, nature (myself)?
“A change is as good as a rest”; some of the best moments this year have been during periods of activity. My bolthole of preference is a small cottage in France, which now has significant tree growth, requiring major works. Climbing and felling trees provides a good mix of exercise and pleasure at a job completed. With other garden tidying, the bonfire lasts a significant time, providing warmth and also time to stare into the flames and think. A holiday in the Forest of Dean and “meeting” a family of wild boar on the track, visiting St Ives and Barbara Hepworth’s house, while working in Cornwall, and spending three days walking in Paris would count as highlights.
With next year looming, I am slightly resisting setting any resolutions, as I am tempted to simply say “more of the same please”. I am happy with my lot.
There are places we’d like to visit and a number of interesting projects being discussed.
I know that I must get up and walk more, to go with the “green gym” of gardening and definitely the bike has to get greater use too. I’m not planning any marathons, nor other extended running. Hated it as a child, probably due to the inevitable cross country running the rain and still do, despite loving sport in general.
My blood doning has changed for 2016, from platelet donation to whole blood for sickle cell research; apparently my blood is suitable, as is a small portion of the population. That will reduce time needed, but I’ll miss the regularity of monthly visits.
Continuing to work with a couple of School Direct projects, as well as undergraduate and post-graduate schemes, gets me into schools regularly to support mentors and trainees.
I want to continue blogging about education for a while longer. There is just so much being discussed. With newest grandchildren being born on Boxing Day last year and in May of 2015, these two won’t leave education until 2033. Their world will be different to mine. They need to be able to understand it and find their own solutions to the problems that life will offer them. They will need to read, write and count, but, without an understanding of the world, these may not count for as much.
I’ll look forward to meeting people this year, at Teachmeets and at the Primary Rocks conference.
I’d like to play my bodhran again this year. Finding an outlet is not easy.
I’ll whisper that there’s a possible book, which is developing.
My biggest wish this year is for others, who do the daily hard work in educating children.
My stocktake on education.
The supply side is wrong. Government is in danger of getting in the way and becoming the problem.
The geographical need for school places should override the dogma about Free Schools and
Academisation is not necessarily the best route to improve a school. Ofsted along with internal and other audits should be used to inform decisions.
Teachers and their leaders, working in collegiate school teams, need the space and time to THINK RATIONALLY and develop approaches that are best suited to the needs of their communities.
Children need good school buildings that are fit for purpose and stocked with appropriate resources, enabling teachers to teach effectively and to deal with the evident need of the children in front of them.
Classrooms need teachers. There is developing evidence that teacher supply is not keeping up with demand. Without teachers, children will not be taught; simple. Will Government ministers and civil servants fill the gaps?
I want the mess that particularly surrounds assessment and SEND to be sorted, so that the systems around children are coherent, easy to understand and implement.
I’d like the skateboard or bike riding analogy to pertain to reading. Teach them, show them how, then let them have a go, checking regularly that they are safe secure and enjoying it. It’s not always just about the teaching. It can be about the quality of available literature and quality time made available to practice, on a book that is the right fit for the child to be able to practice comfortably.
I’d want something to think, read, talk and write about, to be hallmarks of good practice. Quality thinking, talking and reading can then lead to quality writing, as children have something of quality to say.
I wish you all good health and much happiness during the coming year.