Sunday, 30 June 2013

Me Vs an unknown driver


I've recieved a letter from an insurance company, claiming that I hit someone in my car.

This was supposed to have happened in Liverpool on 13th June, but I never went within 5 miles of the place where this accident occurred.

I've contacted my own insurance company asking for advice. Watch this space I suppose.

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Saturday, 15 June 2013

I wanna tell you a story...

Some of the things I use to teach are not directly related to the task in hand. See for example, the PIE thing I posted about a couple of months back.

Add to the list of non-standard ideas or memes that I regularly employ, "The thing with the fish", and "The story thing".

The thing with the fish is a way of establishing the underlying principles behind road signs. Rather than get bogged down with the hundreds of signs we have to deal with, I use a pictogram of a fish inside the various shapes and colours of sign to get across the underpinning logic. Why fish? Well they're easy to draw in silhouette, and it allows my pupils to accept them as an abstract, because signs saying "warning, fish ahead", "no fish allowed" or "fish lane" don't exist in real life. I've been using this particular idea for years now.

The Story Thing comes from something I blogged about here a year or two ago.

This shape:

is sort of the shape of a typical, successful driving lesson.

Generally, It would be wrong to plan things too tightly, so the first part of the lesson is the pupil just driving, and doing ok. But then inevitably, something goes wrong. They fuck up a roundabout. They nearly knock the mirror off a parked car.

Kaboom. They've just hit the buffers, and seemingly, they're doing worse than when they started. And suddenly, I have a lesson plan.

We stop. We talk. Questions are asked. Answers are given. Sometimes correctly. The area of weakness, having been exposed, is worked upon and improvement occurs. The pupil finishes their lesson at a higher point overall than when they started.

This is something I share freely with my pupils. Understanding and accepting that the bit below the baseline is an inevitable and necessary part of the learning process is an important tool in legitimising error.

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Sunday, 2 June 2013


I mentioned a few posts ago that my mum had started smelling smells that weren't there.

A couple of days ago, she sent me this message:

Been to doctors this afternoon. I have sclerosis in both hemispheres Will be keeping my app't at Walton on 24th. Started taking a low dose aspirin once a day. Don't know what treatment can be offered. We will wait and see. Looking forward to seeing you both.
She's 65. 8 years younger than my Dad. I suppose I assumed that he'd go first. I sort of tried to avoid thinking of such things at all, truth be told. The child in me thinks they will just always be there.

Sclerosis is a medical term for the replacement of the normal structures present in an organ with connective tissue. Some forms of it are degenerative and incurable. Others less so. If Mum knows more about it, she's keeping mum. We're having a meet up next weekend. I shall find a quiet moment with her to ask. I suspect she may be trying to protect me. Or she might have another 30 years in front of her. Right now, I just don't know.

We all age of course. If you don't want to bury your children, you have to die before them. That's just the normal way of things.  She helped me not just through childhood, but through all the shittier bits of my teens and twenties too.

She's always been a bearer of other people's burdens. Only rarely has she ever let slip how much it's cost her.

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