Part 1- Bedrock, or where it all begins

A brief introduction since none of you know me (yet)

Life after 40….it offers us many reasons for retrospective and yet forward-leaning thinking as we ponder what makes us ‘us’, and what road we hope to follow in the coming (many, we hope) years.

This is the start of my blog –  part biography, part general musings, on various aspects of this life as we know it.

Part 1- Bedrock

The usefulness of an education

May as well make a start at the beginnings of our formal life….education (or should that be Education?)

It’s a common theme for us all – no choice on this one. It’s a legal requirement, at least in the UK, so we all probably have an opinion on it one way or the other.

A bit of background – mine was a good one, very simply. I was lucky enough to have been born in a ‘nice’ area to decent, hardworking parents, and my school years went by on a semi-middle class track without much incident. I’m not privileged by the way, dad was a police officer and mum worked part time in the telephone exchange, but I don’t remember wanting for anything (except a Girls’ World – those of a certain age (over 40) will know exactly what I mean).

I did make it all the way through junior, secondary (an old Grammar-turned-comp but still thought of itself as a Grammar), then on to a red brick (now called Russell group) Uni where I popped out the other end after 4 years with a 2:1 and a good few life skills to boot. Sounds ok and yes, probably I was very fortune, though to me it was just a normal life.

Fast forward to my current interactions with the education system, and not a lot has changed for my own kids as far as I can tell, except now there’s the whole question of testing, testing and more testing, and (groan), fees for a university education. Not sure what I think about it except I feel lucky that it didn’t exist in my day, which probably means I disagree with it in principle.

Testing I definitely don’t agree with – I mean, we made it through to BSc or BA-dom without doing a scrap of homework prior to secondary school. My further thoughts are – the testing is all about the league tables and not about the kids. The teachers don’t want it (generally) but we have to put up with it (for now). Get rid of league tables and let schools and teachers do what they do best – educate.

Uniform – in all shapes and colours, most definitely a thing to be happy about. Who has the time or the energy to worry about what to wear each day. It makes us all equal more or less, but gives us great capacity for inventiveness and for subverting the system through a series of tweaks and more blatant alterations to the ‘school guidelines’. Our school deemed it necessary to measure the bottom hem circumference of our A-line skirts at the beginning and end of each term – just to see who had been clever enough to take the edges in, cm by cm (or inch by inch in the pre-metric days) and end up with a pencil skirt instead of regulation A line.

I feel this could become quickly political, so I’ll move on to academic subjects….

Simply – LATIN – it should be compulsory for all. It’s by far the best and most useful subject I ever learned.

I have for many years been boring my kids, colleagues and anyone else who’ll listen, with ‘interesting’ facts about the origins of words and the connections between certain words in English, French, Spanish, Italian etc….this means also that despite having only formally gained qualifications in French, German (and Latin) I can now pick up a lot of F, S and I without too much bother. A useful skill to have I reckon and what is better in life than the means to communicate enthusiastically and wholeheartedly with those around us? (ok, so I’m also an extrovert so these things matter a lot to me).

Cerberus est Canis, Matella est Mater…etc

Closely linked to language and the roots thereof….spelling, grammar and other nerdish things. Also very close to my heart is the ability to be able to spell and communicate clearly what it is you have to say. After all, your thoughts and ponderings are very important, and your most unique part of you. Why not just make sure you portray a shining and polished version of your best self to the world at large?

Seems rather important don’t you think?

More on this at one of my favourite webpages: http://www.grammarly.com

One of the other most useful things about our formal education is the social skills that school equips you with. See above reference to being an extrovert. These are also a very important life skills, and seem to be sadly lacking in many a young person according to many employers faced with interviewees who can barely string a sentence together because they’ve never really had to. No-one talks to anyone these days, it’s all about tweeting and texting.

In some ways ‘progress’ has a lot to answer for.

I shall leave this first blog entry here, short as it is, as I fear it may become too political, polarising and anything else which might put people off visiting my blog again.

Look forward to publishing Part 2 where I’ll be scratching around the subject of kids (having them, not being one as that’s too distant a memory to be useful)

Adios / Adieu / Auf Wiedersehen, Ciao for now.

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