Monday, June 11, 2018

Epic Sn(f)ail?

This mollusc spent last night climbing up a door. The top of the door is about as far as it can get from a source of food in my garden. After the door, its got a few metres of stone to go before it reaches the roof - where there might be a little moss to eat. Are we looking at a new form of super snail here, or is it rather a case of a lousy sense of direction giving it the worst possible start to a Monday?

Saturday, June 09, 2018


It seems that 14% of hits on my Linkedin site this week are from 'human resources specialists'.
A lower form of existence I've yet to encounter. Be gone, foul pests, be gone I say.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Learning to be anxious: how not to teach - a lesson from the 60s

It's strange, but if I consider whether the world is becoming a better place, on a subjective level, I always seem to default to my school years. I started school in September 1966 and the first school I attended was Beckett Park County Primary in Headingley, Leeds (near to cricket ground, if you're not familiar with the place). Probably fair to say, I didn't enjoy the school experience: the whole freedom thing of the mid-60s hadn't reached that far north yet and the bulk of my teachers had spent their careers managing failure from a position of largely unquestioned authority - which was bad for them, and for the children submitted to their often not-so-tender care. By the time I was eight, I was in Miss Tipping's second year junior class. Miss T was the epitome of 'old-school'; white hair cut to accentuate the severity of her face, tweed-suited and flat-brogued, she ruled with an iron fist (backed up liberally with flailing ruler or flying board rubber). Boys were always referred to by surname only, the girls had the privilege of being called by their first name, but this was so loaded with vitriol or sarcasm the privilege was highly questionable. Along with a fair few others in my class, I went home for lunch and this entailed catching a school bus that left at 12.05; the lunch bell went at 12.00, so there was always a scramble. On this fateful day, La Tipping employed her absent-minded 'is that really the time' trick, which she deployed if we hadn't met her expected work/attentiveness rate in the morning lessons. As the clocked ticked on past the bell and we waited for her dismissal, I began to panic. Missing the school bus meant a longer walk to the main road for the service bus; I'd have less time to eat or spend at home. The panic grew and before I knew it, 'Miss' had noticed. In an irony-loaded voice she asked 'Hyatt, what's the matter?' She then took my hesitant answer as her cue for a rabble-rousing comedy routine that reduced my class mates to nervous laughter. We were eventually released. I don't remember if I made the school bus, but I can still recall - all too vividly - the panicked fear her little routine caused. She belittled me - and my childish fears - in a way I would never have done in my time as a teacher. Because if I had, I would have been subject to a complaint and faced some form of sanction; we now know that anxiety is real and stalks the classes and corridors of schools in all year groups. So, yes, in this respect the world is a better place. But accessing the care and treatment needed to overcome anxiety and depression is another story altogether. 'Miss' taught me not to be late for busses and trains; she also taught me that panic is no laughing matter.