The Good Book

So, recently on Facebook I was sent a link to a blog post which has taken me a full 24 hours to digest and reel from.

This post was entitled ‘Six (+2) Reasons NOT To Send Your Daughter To College

This was never going to sit well with me was it? Really? But I read it, hoping that it may just be a positive post about things you can do with a vocational qualification. Oh how wrong I was. And this post offended me on multiple levels.

Disclaimer – the following is just my rather ranty opinion.

Firstly, the owner of this site claims to be Catholic (and yes, with a big C). No right minded Catholic would propagate the ‘women are just baby making machines’ tripe. Women are equal and by holding a job, we do not devalue our wombs. There is absolutely no Catholic dogma that prevents women from working, unless it’s as a priest or the Pope.

Secondly, as you might’ve guessed, it offends me as a woman. The sections in the bible that are quoted are referencing the family dynamic from the Middle East TWO THOUSAND YEARS AGO. It was the norm for women to run the household, and they did so through their extended family. It was also the norm to bake unleavened bread over an open fire and live in tents which were regularly moved around – should we do that now? I have a mind, and I’m not afraid to use it! Try telling Ada Lovelace that women can’t contribute to the male dominated environment (guys, without her you wouldn’t even have the Internet to spread your unpleasant message on).

Thirdly, it offends me as a wife. I am in an equal partnership with my husband and as such do not need to be subservient to him. Frankly, if I was, we’d have a lot more gadgets in the house and a lot less food! That also doesn’t mean that he doesn’t work hard to provide for his family. In a society where financially we both need to work, we are a team.

Finally (ok, not finally, but I need to stop ranting eventually), it offends me as a mother. I have two beautiful, intelligent daughters who will go to any educational establishment of their choosing and I trust that our parenting will set them up to make rational choices about the relationships that they get into whilst they are there. Girls can absolutely make rational choices (this hormonal lynx effect that you speak of is just a guise for bad choices without placing the responsibility firmly in the hands of the participants) and if they mess up, then we’ll be there to help them pick up the pieces. That’s called parenting. Hiding your child away at home away from the world in case they meet someone you don’t approve of is no different from the enforced wearing of a veil. If anything more so – how will these sheltered children grow up to be self-sufficient? Or is that the plan? If you place trust in your child, mostly, it’s a self fulfilling prophecy.

So, having ranted in full, I have decided to answer this blog post with a song. This is not Catholicism, your post is terrifying Bible Belt America claptrap which is fueling the world’s fear of the mental health of Americans in general. (Sadly, this type of thing is creating a stereotype which is not true of many).

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Why my kids won’t be playing GTA V

Lets just accept as fact that I’m an uncaring parent who has no concept of how to be cool. Then move on with life.

But while I’m here, let me explain the reasons why my kids aren’t playing the game. For the record, I probably will. I’ve played the others and had quite a lot of fun running over innocent people, then promptly getting arrested because, well let’s face it, my modus operandi when playing any game is rarely ‘stealthy’. I am what is generally known in a raid group as an “agro magnet”. I shoot stuff randomly, just to see what happens. I’ve been known to summon demons in the middle of a crowded city then sort of let them loose to rampage… Oops? I played an assassin with as much tact and diplomacy as a chuckle brother. I’m that arse that the healer just refuses to resurrect. I should go to meetings.

Anyway, I digress. Reasons for no play for my kids…

1. There is as yet no release date for PC. (Xbox and PS3 is midnight tonight – I shall be duly tormenting very overtired pupils tomorrow)

2. It’s age rated. The GTA series is PEGI rated as 18+ and yet a plethora of kids seem to be handed these games as entertainment. This has become a proper pet peeve of mine and leaves me ranting to anyone who will listen – age ratings are there for a reason! You make moral judgements in these games and often the consequences of your actions are not as they would be in real life. Instead of just looking at the pretty pictures, this is what the rating actually means:

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Would you still buy that for your young teen?

Kids are impressionable – let a child choose in a simulated environment to beat someone to death with a chair and you’re impacting on their moral code. Kids learn through play, and these games are not designed with teaching a moral code in mind.

Give an adult a simulated environment where they get to shoot people and beat them about the head with pink objects that are generally not used as weapons (oh yes, Vice City, I’m looking at you) and you have an hour or so of stress relief in a situation that they understand is just a game.

3. They have the monopoly on games anyway. They kick my arse at Just Dance. They have hijacked my iPad and have created some sort of minecraft über city, they run out my batteries on surgeon simulator. These games are mine! No you may not have a World of Warcraft account. My game. Get off my realm. I was here first!

I hold the same rule with games as I do with piercing a and tattoos – when you’re legally able to go out and get it yourself, then off you go. Until then, mummy gets all the fun stuff.

How to be a woman

For as many years as I can remember I have used my hair as a defining feature of my, well ‘me’.

In my early teens it was the blonde thing. Pant style, just without the giant breasts. I was a waif.

Later teens came the long black gothy phase. Still a bit waify, but the lack of daylight and nutrition added to the look…

Next entered a dubious frumpy phase that is best left back in the 90s from whence it came. Weight was gained.

After this, an interesting crop off the waist length hair to a spikes boy cut and wear many sensible shoes phase started. Around age 20 I started to grow a pair and became more self assured. There was still some way to go, but bottoms were kicked where appropriate.

By early 20s spiked hair became purple, numerous piercings were acquired and I saw the return of the goth/punk as I met LSH who was having an equally punky second rebellion with a giant Mohawk. We were made for each other with the same taste in massively baggy trousers and shouty music. The hair went black once more, but this time with bright red underneath.

BeanPole made an arrival and our lives got flipped upside down. Cue major identity crisis for both of us. By the time we’d sorted ourselves out, the hair was longer and fully black, Tinypants was cooking and we were married.

When Tinypants was 5 months old I started a full time degree in Computer Science and had the space to feed my outward personality. So began the endless hours spent with Mrs GypsyTree plaiting coloured dreadlocks into our growing hair while our tiny children played around us. Over the course of several years I maintained waist length dreadlocks of red, pink, purple, green and electric blue which came out every few months to be washed! This was by far one of the happiest times of my life.

Finally came the time for me to actually do some proper work, so the dreads were packed away (I still get them out sometimes to sigh and wish I was a bit younger). But the hair wasn’t done yet! I was a creative programmer employed for her skill, not her looks and sported a two tone hot pink / turquoise dyed look for a long time.

Teaching finally put an end to the wild colours and I tried a variety of blondes & browns until three years ago I went bright pillar box red and became ME.

But I’m ready for another change. After finally getting comfortable in my 33 year old body – which sometimes moves of its own accord, aches at inappropriate times and curves in ways it never used to, I’m also coming to terms with the idea that whilst I know my natural colour is brown, actually a fair bit is now rather white. I’m in no way ready to be a proper grown up, but I’m about to dye it all back to my natural brown then let the white arrive.

Don’t expect frumpy to make a comeback. Think more Betty Page locks (now there was a brunette to emulate!). I just don’t feel the need to make a wild statement on my head anymore, because actually what’s IN my head is far more interesting.

I like jumping and custard

I’m not even going to entertain the idea of reacting to Micheal Gove’s latest vile rhetoric. Testing at age five? Considering a pupil’s self esteem is just an excuse for not teaching them to add up? Suffice to say reading this made me wonder how the man hasn’t been demoted (or lynched). I envisage a future where he becomes the mad relative that the Tories keep locked away somewhere to save them more embarrassment.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10302249/Start-schooling-later-than-age-five-say-experts.html

There’s something nasty in the woodshed.

Back to the lighter side of life, I commenced A Level teaching with a new group today. Now I know that I get a little bit overexcited when it comes to installing a love of all things nerdy, codey and hardware, but the two comments I got today really do show the polarized reactions that teaching IT and computer science gets:

From a year 9 (to me in their first lesson where I introduced Python in command line): ‘This coding is brilliant! You must love teaching it.’ Yes, I do. And the fact you’re enjoying it makes it that much more rewarding.

From a year 12 (whispered to a friend while I was enthusing about input devices): “she’s weird!” Indeed I am. Weird isn’t a bad thing. Weird meant I threw myself into computing and learnt stuff I never dreamt I could do. Weird is unique. Bill Gates was (is) weird, Steve Wozniak was (is) weird, Ada Lovelace was definitely weird. I’m in good company.

Jumping out of the private frying pan and into the state fire

It’s official. I survived the first week at school. And with some hindsight, and a steaming hot bubble bath, I am now weighing up my decision to jump out of the private frying pan and into the state fire.

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When I jumped ship, I got the regular low mutter of but aren’t the kids out there awful? Do you have a stab vest? Well, actually so far the kids have been more respectful! Yes, some are disaffected, but that’s a challenge that I’m up for. The atmosphere is different – my best compliment all week has been from a year 11 – “are you our new teacher? Miss, your skirt is well swag!” Cue me responding in a Miles Jupp accent… I’m afraid the posh is here to stay. Turns out my age is catching up with me, personally I thought the skirt was stylish and quirky. Who knew I had swag? Perhaps I do indeed OLO! (See? Totally down with the kids isn’t it?)

I loved my old department and I really miss some people from back in my familiar Hogwarts surroundings, I miss knowing everyone, dressing up like batman & I still can’t listen to Jerusalem with a straight face or lump in my throat, but being consistently on edge about everything, there wasn’t the atmosphere I have now. It’s manic, like the start of every term but this initial message of ‘do your best’ is taken to heart. Results count, but the pastoral side for both students and staff is just as important. On which note, I have seen my girls every night before bedtime this week. I have been home by 6pm (aside from parents evening). They have their Mummy back.

I keep waiting for the catch. But instead I just feel more confident as a teacher. I’m tired, as you should be at the end of the first week, but it’s a satisfied tired rather than the laying on the floor crying after being on duty for 15 straight hours tired that was a regular aspect of my term time.

It’s the same job description (with less system support, and more year 7s), but on another planet.

This is my arm – it translates to ‘good enough’ as in ‘your best will always be good enough’.

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I began to doubt that my best was ever going to be good enough last year, but I think my best probably will be here. Not because I have lower expectations, but because without the overwhelming pressure and stress, I now have the freedom to grow rather than be moulded. That rebellious streak in me just won’t allow me to be beaten down ever again. I know I’m good at this and can get even better. And B-Dog apparently also has swag!

Note: I had to read that last bit out loud. It sounds ridiculous in my southern British accent!

Expensive Beer & Poo Caterpillars

LSH has ‘popped’ up to London for a work social this evening. When I say ‘popped’, I mean taken the two hour trip on a revolting packed commuter train just to meet some people that he converses perfectly well with via Skype on a daily basis. Not to mention that a ticket costs £60 – now that is an expensive beer.

And as a parting gift, he left this for me in a box to show the kids:

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Thanks? I think.

It’s the caterpillar of the elephant moth, which is also known as the hummingbird moth. It’s a gorgeous moth which is a unique pollinator for orchids!

But, for now, it looks like a squishy poo.