Tag Archives: campaigning

#THISislearning update

It has been a week and a day since Maddy and I launched the #THISislearning campaign, and already it is beginning to gather momentum.

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We have 272 members of our Facebook group – parents and teachers, from up and down the country, united in their belief that there is something seriously wrong with the lack of understanding and respect our government shows towards the art of learning.

There has been lots of interest in the campaign on Twitter, with some of my favourite educationalists (including Michael Rosen and Sue Cowley) showing their support. The links that people have shared using the hashtag #THISislearning have led me to some fantastic posts, including one which sums up perfectly why it is time for parents and teachers to unite and fight the decimation of our education system.

And support from parents is certainly strong.

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"Play is often talked about as if it were a release from serious learning. But for children play IS serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood" -{Fred Rogers} . My eldest has left school, he did well in his exams and wasn't a worrier when it came to preparing for them. He always knew that he'd follow in my husband's footsteps regardless of the outcome, he wanted a trade rather than years and years of further education. We are proud of him, making a living whilst still staying on in college, as is mandatory. . My middle daughter is currently studying for GCSEs she is working relentlessly night in night out to keep the place at college that has been provisionally offered her, but I worry that the exam stress is too much. . In the UK, children sit compulsory SATS tests to measure achievement. Children that do not reach the required level are described by the government as 'failing' or 'doing poorly' which can seriously affect self-esteem. I tried an English paper yesterday and I scored 6 out of 10. I would say half of my correct answers were guesses. This is a paper aimed at ten-year-olds, and yet I am 36 years old with an A* in English at GCSE and a B at A Level as well as further qualifications in journalism, copywriting and editing but I still only got just over half correct. A child's progress can not be measured by their ability to spot the conjunctive clause. Whatever happened to trusting teachers to do what they entered the profession to do? There is a tremendous amount of pressure on parents, teachers and children and that makes me sad and worried about what is in store for Rose's education and how hard she will be pushed. . . . . . . . . . . #THISislearning #letkidsbekids #StopSATS #LittleFierceOnes #clickinmoms #lovemyblog #ABMlifeissweet #darlingdaily #mommyblogger #mummyblogger #thehappynow #childhoodunplugged #RSlove #Flashesofdelight #humansofjoy #livebeautifully #simplepleasuresoflife #our_everyday_moments #simplychildren #simply_children #liveauthentic #candidchildhood #howyouglow #litt

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I love that not only are people beginning to share their own images and stories that promote a positive and passionate vision of learning, but also that the stories that are being shared are actually beginning to inspire people to think more deeply about learning – something which has been an unexpected side effect of the campaign for me as well.

The blogging community is beginning to come together, sharing their posts about learning and the activities which inspire it. I particularly like this story-inspired rainbow activity, and the hands-on learning about the butterfly life cycle using the ever-versatile tuff spot.

Of course this is all leading up to the 3rd May, when children across the country will be kept out of school and will have the chance to engage in exciting learning opportunities in their communities. I am particularly excited about what is going to be happening in my little town: a Celebrating Children’s Creativity day organised by the fantastic Flossy and Jim.

But perhaps most of all, I am excited by the general tide of enthusiasm in the world of education. The sense that, whilst things might be pretty rubbish right now, there IS another way – and that by standing together we really do have the chance to create a better future for our children. There are all sorts of campaigns kicking off, with people making the most of their expertise and interests to galvanise support from far and wide. And the wider campaign now has a soundtrack, in the form of this protest song which is in the process of being created by a group of teachers in London.

So what can you do – what can we all do – to take things further?

As far as #THISislearning is concerned, we would love it if you could do the following:

  • Join our Facebook group if you haven’t already, and share it with your friends
  • Use the #THISislearning hashtag to share your experiences of (or thoughts about) learning on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
  • Link up your blog posts to inspire others with your experiences, ideas or activities
  • Share our badge (link in sidebar) to raise awareness of the campaign

Thank you for your support: together we are stronger.

 

 

 

Taking stock

I’m in a bit of a ‘non-writing writer’ phase at the moment, and I’m not sure I like it very much. There is only so much time and energy left over from parenting a toddler, and at the moment most of mine is being spent on campaigning in the run up to election day. I’ve been grateful for my way with words as I’ve developed the campaign on social media and in local meetings, but it is giving me a little bit of an identity crisis.

The two manuscripts I have written are still out there in the ether, and I’m feeling guilty for not giving them enough attention. They are to some extent in the hands of my agent, but I’m getting the niggling feeling that I really should be doing something more…

I am a writer. A novelist. But my novels have not yet been published. And at the moment I’m not actually writing anything.

Not exactly confidence-inspiring is it?

Hmmm…

On the upside, this impasse I have found myself in has prompted me to find the time to read more. When my days are filled with writing or editing I find it hard to shift my brain into the different world of someone else’s novel. So whilst the last few weeks have been ridiculously hectic, leaving no time at all to write, I’ve been grateful for the snatched moments where I have been able to lose myself in prose.

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I loved the twists and turns of I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh. The first half of the story is powerful enough, a woman rebuilding her life after a tragic accident. But then revelations are shared which cut through everything you thought to be true. And then it turns out that even that new understanding of the character is deeply flawed. There was much in the central theme of a woman being undone by a manipulative man that resonates with me and the novel I’m (hopefully) close to submitting to publishers, and it definitely gave me food for thought where that’s concerned.

Then there was The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer. A devastating exploration of mental health and how our society deals with it, told through the layers of grief which follow the death of the protagonist’s brother. The protagonist himself is utterly compelling, despite (or maybe because of) his tenuous grip on reality, and whilst his journey as a psychiatric patient is central to the novel you cannot help but reflect on the arbitrary definitions of ‘normal’ that so much of our world rests on.

This theme was strong too in The Girl with all the Gifts, a zombie story with a difference by M.R.Carey. An increasingly small cast of characters takes us deep into a post-apocalyptic world which, like most good science fiction, questions many of the facts we take for granted.

And now I am onto The Children Act, the latest novel by Ian McEwan, the arrival in paperback of which I have been eagerly awaiting. I’m close to finishing it actually – and as much as I was tempted to do precisely that (instead of writing this) during Arthur’s nap I am just as happy to draw out the pleasure of reading it for a little while longer. I love McEwan’s prose, casual and yet important in its tone, easy to read and yet dense with emotional truth and careful observation.

It is his body of work that I aspire to most, though I know that is setting my bar absurdly high.

There are baby steps to be taken first. The steps that will let me discover if the two novels I have written so far can find a home in the publishing world, and through that home the readers I long for. I have been thinking about those novels a lot this week – both the latest one and my first, Lili Badger. I still think they have an awful lot going for them, but this period of inaction is making me doubt their potential in the marketplace. I’m beginning to wish that, as a writer, I was drawn more clearly to a particular genre. Although really that’s absurd – I never have been as a reader so to attempt to create something for the sake of marketability alone would surely be doomed to failure.

So I will keep on going on with the words and ideas that are mine, and together I’m sure we’ll get there sooner or later. In the meantime I really should carve out a little bit of space to write something new this week I think, if only to satisfy that part of my identity that knows, deep down, I am a writer.

 

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