Thursday, October 15, 2009

Learning complication

Yesterday my school had a study day for the HSC students. About 50 turned up.  Sounds good in practice but as i suspected it became a bit of a social/stress/panic/procrastination exercise for some of them. Not all.  I had a little band of 6 from my English class who wanted to revise Hamlet.

I wasn't expecting it, I thought it would be more like extracting teeth. I was pretty chuffed that they still wanted to write an essay that somehow reflected all they had put in.

They have been struggling with the bard all year.  They DO understand him when we're reading it (funnily enough - because the general consensus is that reading him is the hard part) but when it comes to writing about him that's another thing. I'm sure anyone who has done the HSC can remember that feeling clearly enough.

We found a study room in the library. My stomach felt a bit twitchy and I knew it had as much to do with this being the last time i would ever teach them,  as the sushi  lunch that had sat on my desk since 9.00 am.

Where to start.  We don't want to panic them now. These flighty yearlings.

I asked them what the big issues were and like well trained monkeys they rattled them off - revenge, life/death, love, appearance vs reality, action vs inaction etc. etc.  But when it came to writing about it in any depth they stumbled as usual. The model mapping, scaffolds, smart boards and numerous other visual tools, promoted as the next leap forward in the education revolution, only valued added to a certain extent.

Nic said in frustration,  "They are all so complicated." The rest nodded and sighed in agreement.
I could sense growing anxiety.
I didn't want them jumping ship.
"Let's look at the complication...How does Shakespeare make these ideas complicated?...Just how complicated is it?....Let's take revenge ...the sons....Hamlet, Laertes,"

A discussion followed that, while it might not make them write better essays itshowed that complexity can be a way out of the darkness. Certainly a way out of the black, inkiness that colours the darkness.

Revenge turned into murder, turned into lust, turned into guilt, turned into action, turned into inaction, turned into reality, turned into appearance. And very soon turned into jokes and laughter and a certain comfort in our own ability to dress in Hamlet's clothes.  Black though they may be.

Are we meant to grab hold of complexity, complication, confusion and chaos? Build on it - not deconstruct it.  Let it take off.
If out of the darkness comes more darkness  than learn how to make lemonade (and candles).

And maybe....if all else fails.... upgrade your search engine.???

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Slept in - no vodka needed

No I'm not trying to rewrite War and Peace. Just trying to break a years worth of being head teacher administration and waking at 5.30 to receive calls from sick and worn out teachers.  I was threatening to start drinking (at 5.30 in the morning) but, alas, it was not needed. 

Yesterday and today I managed 7.00 am with no problems at all.  Might have something to do with the FREEZING weather we are experiencing down this way at the moment.  Not that i want to become a slug - I have always enjoyed getting up early - I just don't want to be a slave to habit. Anyway I slept in, got up to fatty, lavish breakfast of bacon and eggs,  did very little exercise and made a new and delicous batch of chocolate chip biscuits (cookies???)


The recipe is:
1/3 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
125 gms butter
1 egg
vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups SR flour
1/2 cup white choc chips

1. Preheat oven to 180 C and line trays with baking paper.
2. Melt butter and combine with sugars.
3. Add egg and essence and mix well.
4. Stir in flour and chips.
5. Place teaspoons of mixture on trays and bake for 12 mins.

Hope you enjoy them as much as L did.  Good study food. 

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Year 12 farewell

Finally the year 12 school year has wound up and they have had their luncheon, their assemby, their muck up day and their graduation.  I think Virginia Woolf might have called it a 'moment of being' (or maybe moments of being might be more accurate) -but on Tuesday at the luncheon i was quite overwhelmed by the thought of not just L finishing (mind you I did not say 'leaving') but all of the year 12 kids.   they have been a crazy/cool group all the way through.

Anyway needless to say I bounced back fairly quickly and the prospect of starting a whole terms leave banished any sookiness to the outer playground. However  it is now day 2 of the holidays and the idea of freedom has not relayed itself to my body. I am still up at 5.30.  Waiting for staff to ring, looking for marking, doing a quick load of washing, trying to make the house look like a small whirly whirly came in through the window and danced around the loungeroom - rather than a tornedo.

And I am still gazing longly toward the studio with some sort of mental dingo proof fence forbiding entry.

Here's a solution- if it happens tomorrow - take a bottle of vodka - and sit on the deck and watch the sun come up. If at anytime I think of any of the above jobs I am to take a couple of swigs from the bottle  That will surely tell my mind and body things are now different!! and by 9.00am i am most certainly going to be back in bed!

Or better still I could get up and get that exercise i have been promising myself for the last 6 months? Nay  best we not rush things too much.

........Hang on.........finally my mind is slowly flicking channels  ...... i just got up walked into the garden and pulled out a weed that i have looking at through the window for the last 3 months.......maybe i won't need the vodka afterall.   Better try it ........just to be sure. 
After all it's better to be safe than sorry.