Experiences in teaching 3 – dance

Never been a huge fan of dancing. Always goaded for not ‘loosening up’ in physical education at school. 

My first tutor group as a teacher in a secondary school I was given year 11. Not usual for someone who had just qualified as a teacher to have the oldest ones in the school. But they were a nice enough group. One of the ‘schemes’ in school as a tutor was to mentor some of the pupils who were seen as middle-ground and maybe needed a little encouragement and guidance.

There was one girl who said to be that one thing she really wanted to do was become a dancer. I didn’t dismiss her or tell her she be better off working in a shop let some terrible careers advisors do. I encouraged it. But was told that her ‘father wouldn’t let her’ and it wasn’t ‘the right thing’

It was a number of years later I heard that she had a few children and was in a terrible relationship with a lad who was abusive. I wondered what would have happened if she had followed her true vocation and became a dancer. This video is for you wherever you are. I still think of you.

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Experiences of teaching 2 – Summer of ’95

That summer is still very clear in my mind. I was finishing my PGCE and after a final school observation returned to Oxford.

Staying at a friends house on the outskirts of Oxford no longer rented a room in the city as my time as a full-time student was coming to a close. Briefly returning to my home where I would spend a month in another school observation – the final piece of my teacher training.

It was a hot summer in ’95. The thermometer hitting at least 30ºc on one or more occasion. Coming as I do from the northeast where we don’t experience such extremities I found it unbearable. It was later on to be an omen – a dreadful indication of what lay before me. Of all the people I had to have contact with was a certain line manager. I had been offered a job in a school on the east side of Durham. Not knowing the area I thought it would be good to put in a little research first.

I knew something wasn’t quite right when she invited me round one night for a meal before the school term commenced. I knew it would be utterly impolite to not accept her invitation. I couldn’t make a bad impression right at the beginning of my teaching career as so much had been placed on the first year of teaching. ‘They’ had the ability to confirm or reject someone in the probationary period. Something I would find out later in life at complete bollocks.

I accepted and spent a soulless night chatting and providing small talk not to give away too much or to come across as someone who was unsuitable to take on responsibility. I know now it was a fishing expedition to find out exactly how I thought and ticked.

Of all the people I was lumbered with at the first experience of professional life was a horrible, gossipy, nasty piece of work, who would sell her last bean for a morsel of scandal. She was the worst of all line managers. Unprofessional and unsupportive. Someone who shouldn’t have been in a position of any responsibility.

Even after twenty-three years since that first meeting, she hasn’t changed one bit. I receded after the first year that I couldn’t go on and continue to work with her it was either it was her or me. Of all the other heads of department, I would work with she was the worst one. Why she was planted in my world I will never know.

Catholic views – Alfie Evans

What can be agreed on is this case is that sad not only for the family but the life of a little child who will never experience life as a normal adult. 

I have been astounded by the amount of coverage that case of Alfie Evans has been given not only in mainstream news items but in constant appearance in social media. It has echoes of the case of Charlie Gard who last year lost his life after parents battled with the courts and against medical advice hoping that they would be able to take their child to another country for treatment.

In similar scenes, we have seen people make violent threats against medical staff because they are unhappy with the decision made regarding the care of a child some who have probably never met.

Social media, emotions and some religious groups are to blame for the rise of these incidents.

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During reading articles appearing alongside ‘Alfie’s Army’ which was trending Twitter was this site that argues that the people of Britain have been influenced by the ‘Marxist Socialist belief’ that people are the ‘property of the state.’ They say the reason why Alfie’s parents aren’t able to do what they like with their son in terms of his treatment is that in Britain we no longer follow Judeo-Christian teachings.

It is no surprise that these articles are written by pro-life Catholic groups who are desperate in their attempt to cling to their own beliefs and justify their actions in supporting Alfie’s family not only in a medical setting but financial backing in the courts.

‘National moral fiber, along with the religious basis upon which the United States and European nations developed, is being replaced by a misguided faith in man and his institutions.’

They are claiming that the European nations are unable to tackle ethical and moral issues without the belief in god. They know that their place in dominating the world with their moral teachings and beliefs is rightly being brought into question. It was in 2009 that Stephen Fry and the late Christopher Hitchins argued that the Catholic Church was NOT a force for good in the world. I whole-heartedly agree with them.

 

The Catholic Church has been the puppet master behind Alfie Evans’ family. They have used the case to further their own agenda. They have time and time again gone against medical opinion to extend the ‘right to life’.

In my opinion it is the Church that is moral corrupt and should be exposed in its dealings with this family. I am sure that again we see people again basing their moral decision on feelings rather than the facts. Just because huge sections of a society does not suscribe to higher power does not make it unable to make sound moral decisions.

Enoch was wrong

Enoch Powell was correct in that mass immigration would take place in Britain. The negatives consequences of this is where he was wrong. 

Some say that ‘history will teach us nothing’ that’s bollocks. You drop a brick on your foot you know it hurts. The books and material from that we learn and gain knowledge are due to testing that which is true and that which turns out to be a fallacy.

Some argue that they predict a bleak picture for the future. Powell envisioned that in less than a generation ‘the black man’ would ‘rule the country’. Race riots would facilitate a new generation where the white working man would no longer feel he is My dominant.

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My question would first ask why he thought ‘the black man’ would want or need to procure ‘the whip hand’. Such a cultural shift in racial demography is not only extreme he argues that the people coming into and staying will continue but the behaviour of those who have entered the country is to have such a profound effect on society that the power of those who call themselves British to be rescinded to migrants.

Those people will not only want to come into Britain to live and work but consume and dominate those who are native to the country. A sanctioned invasion. He goes on to argue that if those in power continue to allow mass immigration those people regardless of their origin will want to control not only fellow immigrants but an entire population.

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I was the only white man in my class of eight in a West Indian run college. I spent three years living and learning in a culture utterly alien to my own. It not only made me examine my own cultural practices and beliefs but gave me an enormous appreciation of the history of the people who were invited here to work after the second world war. They didn’t come over here to ‘take over’ or ‘denominate’ they knew who they were in society and how they contributed.

In the late 1980s, I remember Enoch Powell as being a controversial figure – his predictions of race wars and rivers of blood were inaccurate and false. The only people who want these wars to occur are the racists themselves. Then their misguided beliefs in their own minds can be justified. It is those who have a warped way of thinking about a society who look for a way to vindicate their hateful rhetoric.

Joan Hickson

Growing up not having the internet or even the possibility of buying loads of DVDs I asked my mother what could I watch that was good.

One of those Saturdays as a bored teenager in the 1980s I would have asked my mother for a solution to it. What should I do? ‘How about watching this programme?’ She suggested.

Mother was fond of crime mystery dramas. Whodunnits. Nothing too gory or sacrificial, but a mysterious death, that turned out to be an unsuspected lynching. She liked those sort of things and so I resided myself to watching “Murder at the Vicarage” that was first transmitted in 1989. I was only a teenager and wasn’t too fond watching dull dramas with old ladies and other dull things.

How wrong I was at the time to dismiss such a thing. Joan Hickson had me hooked from the moment I saw her playing the elderly sleuth Miss Marple a marvellous creation of the writer Agatha Christie.

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Even in her 80s, Joan Hickson brought a brilliant calm and shrewd approach to the role of Miss Marple. She seemed to take to the role effortlessly. There was a steely connection to the character yet a soothing reassurance that truth and justice where ever she may go will eventually prevail.

I would have loved to have met her I am sure that she could have told a tale or two about the goings-on in the show business world. Meeting all those interesting and eccentric people.

 

top ten albums

Top ten albums on facebook. No reason sharing just doing it for fun.

1. Very – Pet Shop Boys

My gorgeous friend Jeremy has asked me to post 10 favourite albums in 10 days. My first album is very poignant as I took it to a Christmas party in Oxford at one our lecturers houses and Jeremy was there in ‘94. So every time I hear about the album and songs I remember the Christmas party.

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2. Stronger – Cliff Richard

I have a history of not caring what people think about my music collection. From Bros to Kids from Fame Madama Butterly to Choral Evensong. Cliff has been a big part of my music. I got this album on vinyl in ‘89. A prolific turning point in my life. This is a time when Stock Aiken and Waterman were riding high in the charts with Kylie and various other artists. Cliff want some of that sound and here in this album. Features one of my ALL time favourite songs “Lean on you”.

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3. Nothing like the Sun – Sting

I got this album when it was released in 1987. I can’t remember why I bought it as it was my first album by Sting. Wasn’t that much a fan of the Police and previous albums. But this album is amazing. It was nothing like I heard before. Sister Moon a great song.

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4. Communion – Years and Years

To a more recent album and I became a fan of this group by watching a documentary about homophobia present by the singer. It’s electro pop and I love it. Camp and fun.

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5. An Aching and a Longing – Martyn Joseph

This album rounded off a wonderful year 1989. It was a live album but very unique in that it captured the essence of a live performance.

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6. Go West Young Man – Michael W. Smith

I played and played this album in 1990. It’s unique as it comes from a Christian Rock genre which is generally hated in the UK. I loved it as it was a crossover album into mainstream. Contains one of my top 10 songs – Place in this World.

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7. Press to Play – Paul McCartney

I was desperately in love with someone who would never love me back. I played and played this album. It was the music that provided a soundtrack for a lovesick teenager.

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8. Purpose – Justin Bieber – making the transition from annoying bratty kid singer to adult star isn’t easy. It’s having everyone watching you grow up and seeing every mistake you do. This album is great. Its growing up but being decent pop.

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9. Dangerous – Michael Jackson

You can tell he spent a lot of money in the production of this album. I remember when Black or White was released and it had its showing on Top of the Pops. He couldn’t better this album.

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10. Older – George Michael

This album got me through a tough time in the years following its release. Only after a new of years did you realise that George was in mourning for a loved one. The song track Jesus to Child in 2018 still helps me through powerful emotions realising you can love and with in the blink of an eye that which you though would be with your forever has gone.

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honourable mentions

I predict 1990 – Steve Taylor

Got the Christian communities knickers in a twist with this album from 1987. Theological College didn’t like me playing it. Tough. Look into it’s theme and subjects.

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Madonna – Confessions on a dance floor

Fantastic pop album from the queen of pop.

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My experiences in teaching – 1

Never really talked about my time in teaching at great length. The experiences were partly good others you wouldn’t actually believe. 

The first week was one of the most remarkable in my life. I was fresh out of university and ready to take on the world. Although the world wasn’t quite what I was prepared. I wasn’t given any training for what I was about to face.

Setting up the lesson and getting all the resources in place. Ready to accept the year 11s (the oldest pupils in the school – 15-16-year-olds) I had some good lessons with some other pupils in the school although this was going to be like any other.

It was like a whirlwind. Two people fighting each other, screaming obscenities, before I could even open my mouth one violently pushed another through a glass door. The screaming continued and I sent for other members of staff to calm the situation. It was at least on a par with bedlam.

These pupils had never met me before. Never set foot in my classroom. It was my first introduction. They soon calmed down once the room had been flooded with staff and both of the pupils taken away.

How do you plan for something like that? How do you anticipate that there is going to be trouble? The technique of discerning and defusing I had to learn pretty sharpish in this school. Not something I had ever trained or professionally prepared.

I could continue. Out of the ten years in education, this would not be the most ridiculous life-threatening situation to experience.