Tag Archives: personal

The way we were⤴

from @ blethers

I've held off from saying much online about the latest celebrity-outing as a sexual predator, but the Harvey Weinstein furore has got me thinking about the past - my past. Interestingly enough, my first reaction was to reflect how it's always the really ugly, unattractive guys - just run over in your mind the names that surface and see if you agree. I can recall that time in the 1960s when I asked my mother how a man like Robert Boothby could attract anyone; I seem also to recall that her answer contained a reference to the aphrodisiac of power - the idea that a powerful man could always have his way with a younger partner. Clearly I was not entirely convinced of that; I do recall my 20-something self finding him utterly repulsive.

But actually that's not the whole story. The thing is, when we were young we were expected to be grateful to be fancied by ... well, by anyone. That's part of the sad truth. When I was in Primary 7 - that is, 11-12 years old - we read comics like Romeo (always had the lyrics of a current pop song on the back) and Valentine (had photo-serials instead of comic strip ones - I never liked it as much). The stories were always about a girl attracting some personable bloke by changing her hair or removing her specs, thereby looking more appealing and less brainy. There were columns devoted to pleasing a boy by allowing him to talk about himself - even down to the questions to ask him. And the girl always, always had to wait to be asked.

We joked about it too. There was a teacher in my secondary school whom we avoided as having "wandering hands". Remember that one? But then I remind myself that he was deeply unattractive. Would we have made the jokes about him if he'd been fanciable? There was the unknown man who chased me and two pals along the road, exposing himself as he did. We could hardly run for laughing - though the fact that we were encumbered with violins and (god help us) a cello didn't help. We were interviewed by a policewoman after that; one of my pals was the daughter of a high-ranking policeman. So they took it seriously - we didn't. Why was this?

Remember the cattle-market dances? Girls down one wall, boys facing? And then waiting to see if some pimply youth would ask you to dance, thereby sealing your fate? I went to about two of these: that was enough. And I was lucky. I had a very strict father who had been a secondary teacher all his life, and I'm eternally grateful for the way in which he restricted me and what I did. "Use me as an excuse if you like, he would say - you're not going." Until I was 18 and had passed all the Highers I needed for Uni, I wasn't allowed out to random parties. Imagine how much I hated him at the time, and how thankful I was each time I heard of what had happened at the parties I missed. I wasn't allowed to go hitch-hiking with my pals, nor on cheap, vaguely-planned holidays in Greece. So actually I was never assaulted on the deck of a Greek steamer in the middle of the night, nor on a hotel roof where it was cooler to sleep. And yes, these things happened.

But what of the life of a woman after she's left the protection of her family? (and I know some women aren't protected at all - I'm talking about myself, really) Someone else mentioned the oft-heard question: "Is he bothering you?" And we had to devise ways to avoid being "bothered". Remember, this can include a whole range of behaviours - the sudden hand on the thigh, the tongue down the throat when even a peck felt offensive, the lascivious wolf-whistle from some bloke down a hole in the road. And in the 60s we were never told that it was fine to tell the man what we really felt - rather the reverse. It was regarded as perverse to object to any of it. You made some excuse and wriggled out of the situation, or you let it go on and ended up raped. I was never raped, but I know people who were. They didn't call it rape; they euphemised the whole situation.

Where on earth am I going with all this? I think I'm looking at the sense of entitlement that men have had since time immemorial, and which the women of my generation hadn't climbed sufficiently out of the pit of submission that women had always lived in. So when I hear the current stories about the way famous men have been exposed for the promiscuous predators they are (and it's only famous men - the ordinary tosser in the street just goes on his ghastly way, presumably) - when I hear these, it's like hearing of people waking from a centuries'-long sleep and talking about their nightmares. But they are the nightmares on whose fringes I lived in my youth, and they feel familiar.

Even the best of men - and I'm fortunate: I know many such men - can't know this past as people women my age do. Can't know the present hell that too many women still inhabit. But it's not going to improve unless women occupy the confident upper ground that men have walked since they emerged from the slime; until all women feel the equal of any man they meet and bring up their sons to know this truth; until every girl is imbued with the powerful sense of self that circles her with the armour of confidence; until the Harvey Weinsteins of this world are slapped down the moment they show their true colours.

And until we can be sure that such men will never, ever, become the president of the most powerful nation in the world.


There and back again⤴

from

Elias Pipon’s memorial to the Droits de L’Homme, CC BY Lorna M. Campbell

I’m just back from holiday and, against all the odds, our aged VW camper van made it all the way to Finistère and back without even a hiccup.  Sadly the same can’t be said for myself. I came down with a very nasty kidney infection while travelling and had to spend the first half of my holiday in hospital in France ?  Thank god for EU healthcare.  And thanks also to the medical staff aboard MV Armorique and at Centre Hospitalier de Pays de Morlaix.  Due to their exemplary care my holiday wasn’t a complete wash out and I made it to the beach before the week was out.

I also managed to visit Audierne Bay, the scene of the Droits de L’Homme engagement, the 19th century frigate action that was the starting point for our research into the 1797 crew of HMS Indefatigable and our subsequent book Hornblower’s Historical Shipmates: The young gentlemen of Pellew’s Indefatigable.  It was a beautiful day when we visited and the beach was crowded with families enjoying the sun and children playing in the sea.  It was hard to remember that so many men lost their lives in that exact spot after the Droits de L’Homme was wrecked on the shore following the engagement.  Elias Pipon, an English artillery lieutenant who was a prisoner aboard the ship at the time, wrote a harrowing account of the shipwreck and 40 years later returned to Audierne Bay to erect a monument to the event. The beach now takes it’s name from Pipon’s memorial: Plage du Menhir.

Anyway, I’m now back at my desk and facing the inevitable post holiday e-mail backlog (967) and I’m also starting a new role at the University of Edinburgh today, but that deserves a separate log post of it’s own!

Reader View – easier to see, read or hear.⤴

from @ Alan Stewart's AT Blog

Webpages can be very messy places to read from: broken or wandering text – often split at odd paces to accommodate a picture or advert, font sizes that are too small and shapes not really considerate to those with reading difficulties.

The Safari browser for Mac/iPad/iPhone has had Reader View built in for quite some time allowing users to strip the extraneous stuff out of the page leaving clean, plain text which can also be sized and have its font and background settings changed.http://www.iphonefaq.org/archives/974045

There’s an extension for Google Chrome that does, virtually, the same thing – it’s called Reader View and you can download it/install it to your Chrome browser here.

The extension looks like this when your browser is on most front/home pages that are links rather than text-based articles.reader view index

The extension icon changes when Reader View is available (text-based articles). reader view text

When the icon is clicked the page will change from a standard page to a clear, stripped down Reader View with font size, shape, and background colour/themes available down the right-hand side of the page.

This is the type of extension that should be made available for all pupils who have dyslexia, visual impairments, or any difficulty with reading that might be helped by seeing cleaner, clearer, more appropriately sized text. Using text-to-speech support software is also often easier to utilise with text that is spaced out in this way.


Filed under: Accessibility, Assistive Technology Software, Chrome, Cross curricular, ICT Support, iPad, Literacy, Personal, Teaching & Learning

Gaelic Wikimedian Opportunity – Tha sin direach sgoinneal!⤴

from

The National Library of Scotland and Wikimedia UK yesterday announce that they are recruiting a Gaelic Wikimedian to promote the Scottish Gaelic Wikipedia, Uicipeid.  The Gaelic Wikimedian will work throughout Scotland to promote the Gaelic language by training people to improve or create resources on Uicipeid.  This will include deliver training and events in the Western Isles, Highlands and central Scotland.

Uicipeid logoThe Gaelic Wikipedian will be responsible for designing and delivering a range of activities which will encourage young Gaels to improve their language skills through editing Uicipedia. They will deliver events and workshops and work with Gaelic organisations and communities to increase knowledge about Uicipedia and increase its size and usage. They will support the development of open knowledge and open licenses and prepare progress reports to assess the impact of their work on the development of Uicipeid.

~ WMUK and National Library of Scotland are hiring a Gaelic Wikipedian

As a Gael, a member of the Wikimedia UK Board and an advocate of open education this is a project that is very close to my heart.  I was born and brought up in Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides but sadly I have very little Gaelic.  I can talk fluently to sheepdogs and very small children, but that’s about it!  I am typical of a generation whose parents and grandparents thought there was little point in passing on their language to us.  My father and my granny spoke a lot of Gaelic to me until I was about five but once I started school the Gaelic stopped, and during the 1970’s and early 80’s there was very little provision for Gaelic medium education in the Hebrides. I did one year of Gaelic in secondary school but that was it.

I now have a daughter of my own and as soon as she was old enough to start nursery I decided I wanted her to have the Gaelic medium education that was not available to me.  She is now in in her sixth year at Gaelic school, fluent in the language, and loving every minute of her education.  She also rolls her eyes in embarrassment at my woeful language skills but I can live with that.

Like many school kids, whenever my daughter is doing research for her school projects, Wikipedia is her first port of call, which obviously is something I encourage. She finds the information and references she needs and then carefully translates what she has learned into Gaelic.  It’s a bonus to find an article written in Gaelic in the first place.   It goes without saying that if Uicipeid could be expanded it would be an enormously important resource for Gaelic medium education, not just for primary school children to find facts, but for older students to gain valuable digital literacy skills.

Not only is this a wonderful opportunity for a Gaelic speaker to get involved with Wikimedia and the open knowledge community, the project also promises to be of enormous value to Gaelic teachers and learners and, perhaps most importantly, the future generations of young Gaels.

You can find out more about the post from Wikimedia UK, WMUK and National Library of Scotland are hiring a Gaelic Wikipedian and Obraichean Gàidhlig, Gaelic Wikipedian.

And here’s my own little contribution to Uicipeid, a photograph of Stornoway, uploaded to Wikimedia Commons and  tagged in Gaelic ?

Stornoway Harbour

Steòrnabhagh, Eilean Leòdhais

A big move…⤴

from @ Fearghal Kelly

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I’m making a bit of a professional move over the next couple of weeks. If you’ve looked on this blog at all recently, you will already know that I have been on a secondment to the Scottish College for Educational Leadership to engage on teacher leadership across Scotland. This secondment came to an end at Easter, and the report from this work is due to be published in time for the SCEL Conference on the 12th May.

My intention had been to return to school on completion of this secondment, but continue working for SCEL on a part-time basis. However, over the Easter holidays I finally had a bit of time to reflect and realised that I was really enjoying working for SCEL and that following on from the engagement there was a real potential to meaningfully contribute to the development of teacher leadership across Scotland. That’s not an opportunity that comes along very often! I therefore decided that if SCEL would have me full-time, I would be up for staying on. I was delighted to learn that not only was I keen to stay on, SCEL were equally keen to keep me.

For various reasons however, the best way to make this happen was for me to resign my current teaching post and take up a contract with SCEL…which I’ve done. So, I’m currently in the process of working out my notice with my school, with only days remaining. Leaving school is obviously not an easy call to make…especially Preston Lodge High School, which really is a great place to teach. However, being back in school these weeks has really shown me that due to my recent surgery, a secondary school is quite a difficult place physically for me to teach in just now still. So the move makes sense from the perspective of my health just now also.

So, what am I going to do? Well my job title will be ‘Lead Specialist: Teacher Leadership’ and my role will therefore be to respond to the outcomes from my recent teacher leadership engagement work and put things in place to support teachers. Due to the variety of needs expressed during the engagement, there will need to be a variety of activities put in place. SCEL have already focused their first upcoming conference on teacher leadership, but there will be much more happening beyond that. I’m hoping to continue to use this blog to reflect on my practice in my new role…

I don’t know if and when I’ll be returning to the classroom, so I’ve been enjoying these last few weeks with the students…and I’m especially grateful to have had the chance to do lots of heart & lung dissections with one of my current classes in particular! I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t go down too well in the SCEL offices…

Back to Class⤴

from @ John's World Wide Wall Display

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It’s doesn’t seem that long since I posted about leaving the classroom and now it looks like it is time to go back!

In the latest round of council savings my post has been deleted. In fact the whole team I work has been too (posts not people).

The council’s policy is to redeploy staff and it looks like I’ll be redeployed to a school in August.

Although I’ve just written that it does not seem my current post has lasted long, it does feels like a long time since I was organising learning for a primary class.

A lot has happened in that time. I suspect I need a fair bit of re-skilling, apart from changes in curriculum and practise, I’ve not written more than a few words by hand in the last eight years. Perhaps I should stop blogging and start a notebook to get in some handwriting practise.

I am now regretting the abandoning of resources, notes, lesson plans and the like!

I’ll need to think hard about my use of technology. In my previous school I added a lot to my workload by following personal interests and ideas with a bit too much enthusiasm.

I hope this time round I’ll be able to step back a bit and resist the tendency to spend my evenings preparing experimental tech. It may be a good idea to step as far from the keyboard as I can for a while to concentrate on the many other aspects of classroom practise I need to catch up on.

I do want to use technology for now to ask if there is any tips for going back to school after a break of this length. What have been the challenges? Were there any advantages in having a break?

the photo is my own. Chosen as I found it on searching ‘return’, I am not sure if it is appropriate to this post or not but I reckon that a mix of clouds and rainbows probably hints at my feelings.

Adjustment⤴

from @ Fearghal Kelly

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So, as previously mentioned, I haven’t often reflected on this sort of thing on my blog…but once again I feel the urge to do so. I had an accident years ago in which I badly damaged my ankle…as a result I’ve been undergoing a series of fusion operations in the past few years to deal with the osteoarthritis which had developed.

During the first operation they fused one joint, which left me with quite a lot of mobility still, but I was still in a fair amount of pain as there were other arthritic joints in there. This time, they fused three further joints in the same ankle which seems to have dealt with the arthritis, but left me with significantly decreased mobility. Of course, they told me this in advance…but it’s only really beginning to sink in properly now.

An example of this was last Thursday. I was lucky that as part of my current role I got to attend an excellent and inspiring conference in Glasgow…but attending this event brought my disability to my own attention in a number of ways. For starters, I took the train, which I won’t be rushing to do again. Three trains in one day means having three separate awkward conversations with people sitting in priority seats who don’t need to be. And there’s the feeling of the crowds streaming past me on the platform as I inch my way along a distance which now feels enormous. The venue for the conference itself was great, but the spaces for refreshments and networking were, as they always are, seatless…which means retiring back to the conference room on my own. Even little things like having to choose between a coffee or a cookie, as one of my hands is occupied by a crutch, are a pain!

It was a great conference, but attending it highlighted so many differences between how I am now compared to how I was. Thankfully, my school are being hugely supportive with managing my return to the classroom next month…I think perhaps I need to do more still to manage my own mental transition to this new reality.

As part of this, I really need to be careful with what I commit to – especially the organisation of events. I need to stop organising TeachMeets and Pedagoo events by myself as they’re just dreadful for me physically…if I struggle this much with attending a conference, organising one would be even worse!

With this in mind, I was thinking maybe it would be good to partner up with the organisation of a TeachMeet at some point as mentioned in my previous post? We could have a TeachMeet on the regrowth of TeachMeet? People could present for 7 or 2 minutes on either the benefits of TeachMeet to them, or with ideas for how to regrow the TeachMeet movement in Scotland? It would preferable to me if the event could be in the Edinburgh area. I would be helping with the online and organisation stuff, while whoever volunteered would have to take on the venue and all of that sort of thing. It would be even better if you were someone who had never organised this sort of thing, but were keen to with support…drop me an email if this is you.