Friday, 7 April 2017

Screw "Modern" Education

I don't know whether I want to punch Jon Platt (the father who lost the Supreme Court Case to take his child out of school during term time to go to Disneyland) in the face or to thank him.

So that is a rather loaded lead sentence so let's break it down.

Platt took his child out of school so he could take them to Disneyland in the US. And here a reader who does not understand the inside of the educational system is going to say: "So what? What could a kid miss that couldn't be made up on their return?"

But the thing is, I DO know what is going to happen. That child will return from a two week holiday and will face the inevitability of comments from classmates.

"Psssst," says one kid, completely ignoring the work his teacher has put in front of him, "Where ya been?"

"My daddy took me to Disneyland. I had a lot of fun." answers Platt Junior, also ignoring the work in front of him PLUS the work s/he didn't do whilst prowling around the Magic Kingdom.

"Oh wow!! I'm going to ask my mum to take me on holiday!" (Have fun with that, mums.)

And then the whole class takes an interest and no one does any work. Of course, the teacher would get the blame for not being able to "control" the class by providing stimulating resources to keep the kiddos entertained.

Then of course, the resentment of teachers comes to the fore. They are the ones who have to plan two weeks ahead to put together a learning pack for Little Platt so s/he doesn't miss any learning that will affect the progress the child is meant to make.

"Did any learning take place?" the teacher asks.

"Oh yes," says Little Platt, "I got to meet Mickey Mouse. And Goofy!"

"Did you do your homework?" the teacher asks.

And either this kid spent 10 minutes zooming through a pack of photocopied worksheets or they wrote a 2 paragraph review of the holiday that begins with "Day One: We got on a plane" and ends with. . .oh, that's it. (By the way. . ."Day One" is the first paragraph and "We got on a plane" counts as the second according to the child).

No learning has taken place. The kid is behind everyone else. And of course, it's all the teachers' fault Little Platt doesn't get the GCSEs s/he deserves. And again, of course, it's the teacher--already responsible for the learning of the OTHER 29 children in HER (because the majority of teachers are female) care--who will have to reproduce all the lessons this one child has missed. And probably during her lunch hour.

But yet the Senior Platt, if he could just get over the idea that a school is not just free babysitting for parents who have to work, raises some rather interesting questions.

Should the government be dictating how a child learns?

Well no. What a great world it would be if kids just wake up wanting to learn all the things teachers have to shove down their unwilling necks before they sit their GCSEs.

But they don't. Teachers have to persuade kids that Mary Shelley and John Steinbeck are the greatest writers the world has ever known. Oh and Carol Ann Duffy, D H Lawrence, Shakespeare, Keats and Robert Browning aren't that bad either. Try doing that after two weeks in Disneyland.

And yet. . .

Mr Platt seems to understand that the best time to take a child on holiday is during term time when fares and everything else are A LOT (two separate words) cheaper. Toss some blame in the direction of travel agencies for being so greedy as to take advantage of the school calendar. But I still DON'T like all his whingeing about the system. If he doesn't want to be a part of the system, he should pay for private tutors.

My rates for private tuition (Skype AstroAlex1984) are £30 per hour. But I reckon I can teach more in one hour than over worked Henrietta, who teaches 240 pupils over a two week period, can teach in a whole term.

It's the outdated, factory model school system that sucks. Not a father who wants his children to see Mickey Mouse.

Want to hear more?

Here's an interview I did with the wonderful Rod Suskin!


 And I'm doing a webinar for the Cosmic Intelligence Agency this weekend. Here's the link to sign up.



About the Astrologer




Alex Trenoweth was voted Best International Astrologer, 2015 for her dynamic presentation on Astrology and Education. Her book, "Growing Pains" is an exciting development in astrology as it combines classroom teaching experience, sound research and the potential to have a positive impact on struggling adolescents, parents, teachers and those who have been labelled "at risk". For queries, consultations or syndications, please contact Alex via www.alextrenoweth.com or leave a message in the comment section.


About the New Book


There are two wolves fighting inside of me, the old story goes, one wolf is good and the other is evil. “But Grandfather,” asked the child, “Which one wins?” The Grandfather answered, “The wolf I feed.”

We might like to think that being good is a natural instinct. In fact, doing the right thing takes a conscious decision. Every day, we are met with temptation to get ahead at the expense of someone else, to get away with something we know is wrong or to cut corners if we think no one is watching.


Following on from her powerful book on astrology and Education, “Growing Pains”, Alex Trenoweth explores the benefits of using “the bad guy” of the solar system: Saturn. Often avoided and seldom understood, if we understand our own Saturn then we can help others to understand theirs. Using case studies of  highly successful people contrasted with convicted serial killers, Trenoweth deftly demonstrates the dire consequences of feeding the wrong wolf.





Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Exam Time for Teachers


The pupil was getting cocky (a by product of Jupiter in Gemini). He was bound for Yale to study Economics but he needed me to help him secure an A/A* for his GCSEs in English Language and Literature. Mum and dad were paying me a small fortune and the kid had been eyeing me up for days: I wasn't Ivy League or Oxbridge or even privately schooled. And this kid thought he could out-do me.
"I'll bet you can't answer a writing question better than I can," he said to me (uh-oh).

My left eyebrow twitched with the effort of preventing itself from raising to the full "Oh really?" position. As it happened, there was a visiting examinations officer who wrote the exam paper in the building. Surely he wouldn't mind offering a second opinion.

So it was on like Donkey Kong.

I sat on one side of the table, the student sat on the other and this is what the test question looked like:

Question 2: Writing
You should spend 45 minutes on this question.

Write on one of the following:

EITHER
a) A magazine has asked its readers to write an article about leadership qualities.
Write an article for the magazine giving your thoughts about what makes a good leader. (15 marks)

OR
b) You have been asked to give a talk to an audience of young people on the following topic:
'Modern technology--has it made our lives better?'

OR
c) Write a story with the title 'The Journey'

'The Journey'

Ella was rinsing ink from the rolling trays with great care. Already it looked as if her nails would never be restored to their natural colour: thick, black ink rimmed her nail beds and she was sorely regretting her idea of letting nine-year-olds artistically express themselves with such a vicious medium.

She let her eyes quickly dart to the finished canvasses. Was it all worth it? The memory of the giggling children told her that on some level, some learning had been achieved--even if they had enjoyed themselves a little too much.

As she was scrubbing the remaining ink for her hands, she noticed a large, black dot of ink had fallen onto her pristine white trainers. Even as she grabbed tissue to blot the ink, she knew it would not be worth the effort: some stains never came out.
___

Ella had not been single long and the habit of wondering what to cook to please her man at home had not yet been broken. Steak or chicken, she thought as she approached the grocery store.

The revulsion of realising she had been thinking of her ex caused her to suddenly stop in the middle of the pavement. With startling force, she was bumped from behind.

"Good job we're not in cars," said the disgruntled walker.

"Oh God," Ella mumbled. "I'm so sorry. I--" but the words dried up on her tongue. What did she want for dinner? Had she become so accustomed to pleasing someone else that she could no longer think of her own desires?

"Are you OK?"

In her reverie, Ella realised she had lost track of time and space. Had she been speaking out loud?

"I was just thinking I wanted chocolate cake," she babbled. "For dinner."

For the first time, Ella took notice of the person who had bumped into her. He was large, hairy, untidy and certainly not the type she would choose to speak to. But he had a glint of merriment in his eyes that made her not mind the other points.

"Long day at work," she smiled. "Totally not with it. I need a holiday."

The man pursed his lips together unattractively. The motion made his lips turn white beneath his unshaven whiskers.

"Let me guess. You're a teacher."

Ella laughed nervously. Was it that obvious?

As if reading her mind, the stranger said: "If the harried expression and the loss of concentration so close to the end of term didn't give it away, then the splodge of ink on your white shoes would have."

With a shrug, Ella smiled and looked shyly to this rogue, this rough stranger who was not her type. Then she turned her attention to acquiring the chocolate cake she wanted for dinner. And she did not mind that she had company--even if, she still told herself, he was definitely not her type.

________

It struck Ella, as she tried to save her ruined shoes later that night, that chocolate cake was not such an odd choice after all. But mooching about feeling sorry for herself was. For the first time in days, Ella was starting to feel as if the world were opening up again instead of caving in on top of her. The journey between then and now could be forgotten. Vanquished. She could turn her back to it all and move on.

And to her surprise, with a little help from bleach, the ink stain faded to a distant memory.

___________

I scored all the points (15). My arrogant pupil scored 13. For a fleeting second, I saw the awe on his face. And then he was ready to get back to work. And so was I. Now to get him those A/A*s.

The things we do for students!!

An A* for me from the person who writes the exam papers


By the way, if you're interested in hearing more about Astrology in Education, I'm doing a webinar with the Cosmic Intelligence Agency on Sunday. Click here to register.


About the Astrologer


Alex Trenoweth was voted Best International Astrologer, 2015 for her dynamic presentation on Astrology and Education. Her book, "Growing Pains" is an exciting development in astrology as it combines classroom teaching experience, sound research and the potential to have a positive impact on struggling adolescents, parents, teachers and those who have been labelled "at risk". For queries, consultations or syndications, please contact Alex via www.alextrenoweth.com or leave a message in the comment section.


About the New Book


There are two wolves fighting inside of me, the old story goes, one wolf is good and the other is evil. “But Grandfather,” asked the child, “Which one wins?” The Grandfather answered, “The wolf I feed.”

We might like to think that being good is a natural instinct. In fact, doing the right thing takes a conscious decision. Every day, we are met with temptation to get ahead at the expense of someone else, to get away with something we know is wrong or to cut corners if we think no one is watching.


Following on from her powerful book on astrology and Education, “Growing Pains”, Alex Trenoweth explores the benefits of using “the bad guy” of the solar system: Saturn. Often avoided and seldom understood, if we understand our own Saturn then we can help others to understand theirs. Using case studies of  highly successful people contrasted with convicted serial killers, Trenoweth deftly demonstrates the dire consequences of feeding the wrong wolf.