Posts Tagged With: education

2012 in Review

This is the review sent to me by the WordPress Monkeys apparently. I don’t know who they are, but I picture a Santa’s Workshop type situation, but with monkeys instead of elves.
Anyway, it was kind of fun to look at (for me), given that I felt I thrived on “comments” and “likes”. Turns out, I didn’t get many of those, but I loved blogging all the same! And I was surprised at how many posts I had actually published in 2012! I have been super lazy with my writing lately, but I will resolve to begin again with the dilemmas and adventures of 2013. We are currently on dilemmas actually, as we try to negotiate travel arrangements for the next four months. I feel kind of like we’re starting all over again, and it’s taking up a lot of time and energy. That, combined with trying to cram math into the kids while cramming chocolate into my mouth hasn’t left me with a lot of blogging time. The Christmas chocolate is almost all gone, though, so I’m thinking my general productivity should increase as the pile of chocolate decreases. That’s the hope, anyway.
Happy New Year, Everyone, and thanks for reading! Here’s to a 2013 full of exciting educational adventures! (And hopefully a beach or two – they can totally be educational.)

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,200 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 9 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Sometimes You Just Need a Field Trip.

Symptom: kids don’t want to do schoolwork
Diagnosis: too much bookwork lately
Remedy: field trip

We haven’t had many field trips since returning to England; I think we were all just tired of being on the road, especially the girls, and we were content to stay around “home” most of the time. We did have a morning in nearby Tropical World last week, but otherwise, we’ve been trying to catch up on some of the schoolwork that kind of requires sitting at a table. And the girls have claimed to be fine with that, but recent minor behavioural infractions made us think otherwise; they needed some variety. But even last night, when we announced we were going to have a day out, there was much reluctance.
They are still wary of going anywhere in case we get lost, or there are pickpockets, or the car will be broken into, or just that they will be dragged around for hours on end against their will (especially the little one). As if we would ever do that.
Anyway, Liah came round a bit when she remembered that our chosen destination had an old-fashioned sweet shop, and she was allowed to take her tooth-fairy money, so off we went to Haworth, a village about an hour northwest of us.
After wandering around the shops a bit, having lunch, and accumulating about a pound of sweets between us, we went to the Bronte Parsonage Museum, despite Liah’s quiet protestations. I wrote my honours essay on the Bronte sisters when I was doing my BA, and am a huge fan, so I was excited to go to the museum; I hadn’t been since I was in my teens. The girls haven’t read the books yet but Mairi has read an abridged version of Wuthering Heights, so she, at least, is a little bit familiar. On our way past the Black Bull pub, I commented, a little smugly, that it is the very pub Branwell Bronte used to drink in. I barely had this I-know-more-about-the-Brontes-than-all-of-you statement out of my mouth when Mairi pipes up, “And he got his opium across the street at the Apothecary”. Naturally, I demanded, “How do you know that?”, to which she replied, ” I read it at the apothecary”. Bam! Put me in my place.
Anyway, we continued to the Parsonage which everyone enjoyed. Liah thought it was fantastic, and said how glad she was we went. With the remainder of her tooth money, she bought a wooden toy soldier because that’s what the Brontes played with in “the olden days”. The other two were inspired by the tiny books the Bronte children created when they were similar ages to them, and they bought quill fountain pens to write their own.
I was, once again, amazed by the depth of their natural curiosity and love of learning that is so often missing when they are sitting in front of the books. I didn’t have to point anything out, or try to interest them in anything.They took their guide books and off they went. And as usual, I was done before the older two had finished poring over the Victorian artifacts, partly because I was so often prematurely dragged along to the next room by Liah – “Come in here. You have to see this – it is so cool! You’re gonna love it!”

For more on Haworth, check out my article at What Travel Writers Say




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Dam Building and Sweet Eating: the New Math?

Real life math. I still feel like we are not that great at taking the opportunities to incorporate math into our daily lives. It’s just so much easier to weave in the other disciplines. Or at least it is for my numerically challenged brain.
For example, yesterday Dev took the girls over to a rocky area on the beach where he used to play as a child and explained to them how he and his brother used to dam the area to collect water from the spring coming down the cliff. Naturally, our oldest daughter took up the challenge, and started to create a small dam. She worked for a long time, and eventually had a nice ankle-depth pool. As it filled more, it threatened to break, so she decided to build some walls further out and prepare to release the water from the smaller dam. That was when the interest of the other two was peaked and they joined in. Well, we all did really. There were several harrowing moments and full-on emergencies where there was actual breakage, and it took a group effort to shore it up. At one point, our middle daughter pointed out that we needed to fix one of the walls on a wide part of the pool instead of trying to stop the water in a narrow channel.
Now, clearly this is hugely educational. She realized (pretty much at the same time I did, to be honest) that the water in the narrow channel exerted more pressure than that in the wider pool, so it made more sense to work on that one. So through combinations of sand, stones, and pebbles, the dam was repaired.
Here’s my problem. Is that enough? Do we need to revisit this and explain the physics behind it? If it even is physics. Or is the actual experience all that is required?
I’m not sure about this. Kind of a similar experience with a pick ‘n mix at a sweet shop today. They were allowed to buy 100 grams of sweets each. They were able to weigh as they went along as many times as they wanted. So, one ended up with 130g, one with 110g, and the last one, who weighed several times, and ended up going back for more even at 95g, ended up with 105g. Later on, they were trying to figure out what fraction of their sweets they had eaten, so we got out the scales and weighed them etc. etc. But still, shouldn’t that have gone further? It’s ok for the youngest to just find the difference, but what about the opportunities for fractions and decimals for the older two? It just doesn’t feel like enough somehow.
Good thing I’m not the math teacher for this Road School…

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Culture and Education?


Just having a bit of a think about the educational side of things today – taking stock of what the girls have learned from their new “teachers” (us), and their new surroundings so far.
So, on the up side, they have all got a new library card for the UK, and they have all borrowed books. I chose some of them, and those are the ones that remain unopened, but I feel sure that they will be hugely educational when they do actually decide to open them, so it’s all good.
They also have been given a couple of great lift the flap books (I know, they sound too young, but they’re not) – one is a children’s atlas and the other is a math book. They have delved into those already, so that’s good. Although when I asked one of them to choose a European country they might like to research, the response was Jamaica, so we still need a little work there…
Oh, and we had a bit of down time tonight so we played a very educational family game of Bananagram and some sort of shape game that I didn’t do very well at…
Those, I would consider to be the most directly educational things we’ve done to date, but naturally, there has been lots of learning happening in between. Some of it is perhaps of a questionable nature, but all learning is good, right?
Let’s start with what the youngest one managed to sort out today: breakfast is breakfast, dinner is lunch, tea is supper, and supper is bedtime snack. Done. Very confusing for the past two weeks apparently, but now fully understood.
She has also learned from her super-shopper auntie’s expert tuition that Primark is the best place to buy shoes, because it won’t take up all of your pounds, and you may even be able to buy two pairs and still have money left for ice-cream.
Speaking of ice-cream, we have all learned that hearing the sound of an ice-cream man from a distance, and then not having one come up your street is a tragedy of epic proportions and can ruin your entire day.
And still in keeping with that theme, our middle daughter has learned that a person can eat a lot more chocolate, ice-cream, cakes, and sweets (aka candy) before actually throwing up than she ever thought possible. Mmm, not sure I can find a positive spin there…moving on!
Our oldest daughter has been very busy making up a fabulous game based on “3 movies, 5 books, and a previously invented game” with her cousin. They are full of imagination and adventure, and are absolute kindred spirits, so lots of learning there, I’m sure.
The biggest and most disturbing learning for me happened while we were at the caravan. As all Brits will no doubt be aware, there are things called “amusements” at seaside resorts, caravan parks, etc. I would argue – in a court of law if necessary – that these establishments are very poorly named indeed. They are not one bit amusing. Well, that’s a lie, because I used to find them marginally amusing before I let my child with a slightly obsessive/addictive personality go there. I have to tell you, if you have one of these children, and they are previously unfamiliar with “amusements”, DO NOT GO IN. Because when you put your 30p in, the teddy does not come out. And all your 2p’s actually disappear into oblivion instead of pushing out more 2p’s and the plastic car. And, if you could just have ONE MORE TURN, you would be able to get that monkey into the claw and you would be a WINNER!!
No, not amusing. Not amusing at all. A child’s introduction to gambling hell. I’m sure there’s a lesson in there somewhere, but until we figure it out, we need to just step away from the amusements.

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