Blogging Meme

So here goes – thanks to @mjbuckland for tagging me in his post – I am a little late putting fingers to keyboard as I was away on holiday when he tweeted and am feeling a little out of the loop as internet connection was flaky at the various campsites and beaches around Northland.  However, back in my summer office now and avoiding unpacking the car and doing boring stuff like washing and sorting out smelly camping gear! 

The blogging task includes:
  • Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  • Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  • List 11 bloggers.
  • Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated.  Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.

So the easy part is done, thanks again @mjbuckland!

11 Random facts about me

  1. I arrived from the Yorkshire Dales with my husband and two beautiful sons just about exactly 6 years ago today to settle in NZ.
  2. I was born in Leeds, England, the eldest daughter of four girls and generally took the role as honorary boy of the family (I worked out that Dad desperately wanted someone to share his remote controlled planes, trains, yachts and other toys and I got more attention that way!)
  3. I studied French, German and Politics at Leeds Polytechnic too many moons ago than I care to remember!
  4. I spent a year studying in Paris at the Institut d”Etudes Politiques alongside future French politicians and understood not a word of what was said in lectures (far too fast and esoteric for me!)
  5. I discovered the wonderful, amazing world beneath our feet when a friend dared me to go caving and spent the next 20 years exploring underground in several countries but mainly in my beloved Yorkshire Dales.
  6. The Yorkshire Dales are probably the one thing I really miss about the UK (apart from my sisters, but that goes without saying)
  7. I love languages, the roots of words, where languages come from and absolutely believe that languages are the soul of our identities, our culture and who we are.  We must not let minority languages die out.
  8. Chocolate (especially dark) and red wine (especially Rioja) are indispensable to my existence.
  9. I cannot manage to go out anywhere without being able to take photos – I love looking at the world through a lens and seeing the different perspectives and angles.
  10. I was the first (and possibly still, the only) female Underground Controller in the Cave Rescue Organisation in the Yorkshire Dales (had to step down when my pregnant belly would no longer fit in my caving suit!)
  11. My favourite place is on the top of a mountain, looking down on the ocean with the sun and breeze in my face. However, being deep underground in the complete silence and darkness just listening and contemplating comes a pretty close second.

My answers to Mark’s questions

1. What motivated you to become a teacher?

I was lucky to have several inspirational teachers when I was at primary school. My French teacher, Miss Francis, who was young and trendy and pretty and very excited about the French language, and my PE teacher, Mr Biscombe, who recognised something in everyone that they could do and encouraged us all to try our best.  They ended up getting married which I thought was so romantic!  I don’t think they directly inspired me to be a teacher but they inspired my love of languages and sport and provided me with avenues for developing expertise and passion that led me into teaching.  By the time I was 16 I was a gymnastics coach and then spent the next ten years coaching gymnastics.  I think I realised then that I enjoyed passing on to others the joy of something that I was passionate about.

2. If you could invite anybody to dinner, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

Ooh, a difficult one! When I was younger I would have loved to have met and talked to one of my gymnastics heroes, Olga Corbett or Elvira Saudi. I had to content myself with biographies to find out about their lives. In my twenties and thirties I would definitely have said Norbert Casteret, a famous French speleologist, who did some amazing daredevil explorations with minimal equipment into extreme caves in the early 1900s. Nowadays, I might invite some of my past students who seem to be doing interesting things (Facebook is a wonderful thing! ). Having them all there would make for a lively dinner party and some eclectic conversation.

3. What fictional character are you most like, or do you most relate to?

I used to love Anne of Green Gables , mainly because she was called Anne. I loved the scraps she got into and her sense of fun, honesty and fair play. I have never had the confidence to be quite as forthright as she was portrayed but always wish I was!

4. Where does the tomato sauce live – cupboard or fridge?

Rarely use it but it lives in the pantry.

5. What would be the first thing you would do as the new Prime Minister of NZ?

Abolish standardised testing in schools! Don’t get me started, but it was tried in the UK and has been abandoned because it didn’t work! As a secondary school teacher we witnessed whole cohorts of children coming through who, as a result of SATs, were too scared to try anything new in case they failed. They only really tried if what they were asked to do was going to be tested and reported on.  The weaker students had already given up on learning because they saw themselves as failures and motivating them became even more difficult.  I know that this is possibly true even when regular standards testing does not occur but it was particularly noticeable to us at the time.

6. What has been the coolest thing you have ever done in/with your class?

I guess this answer leads on from the previous question… I had a lower ability yr 9 French class made up mainly of boys (for the third year in a row).  They had already done two years of French, hated it, they could see no point in it and had reached as far as they could as far as they could see.  I sought permission to abandon the national curriculum for this group and set forth on an inquiry based program that involved researching, planning and creating a French themed garden in the school grounds.  We had a great year, the boys were keen to find out more, they enjoyed planning, budgeting, buying plants, preparing the ground, digging, and planting.  They painted a mural in the classroom of their journey, they videoed and took photos and they wrote about what they did and learned.  They saw that the French that they learned was of some use, especially when they talked to the Foreman on the building site at school to ask him about the tools they might need, and found out that he spoke fluent French because he had worked on a building site in France.  That was a real ahaa moment for them! We had our ups and downs but some of those boys learned that it was fun to learn!

7. Crosswords or Sudokus? Both! Especially cryptic crosswords!

8. If you could be a professional athlete, which sport would you play? Why?

My son says football because it’s really fun and you get paid a lot! As a teenager I would have said gymnastics although there is no money in gymnastics.  I am not sure that I would want to be a professional athlete any more, I love sport but for relaxation and socialising.  However, I could quite happily be a professional travel photographer…. or maybe I could combine travel and gymnastics and be a circus performer!

9. What is one thing you want your students to remember about a year in your class?

That learning is fun, that success in exams is not the only measure of learning.

10. Uniforms or Mufti? Why?

Now there’s a can of worms! I like the idea of Mufti – individuality of expression, lack of conformity etc.  As a school child I wore a uniform and had a love-hate relationship with it.  Proud that it identified me with my school and peers but resentful of it’s “ugliness” and “sameness”.  We constantly sought ways to individualise it and “fashions” came and went with regard to skirt length and the ways to tie a tie!  As a teacher I have been resentful about starting every lesson checking uniform and having negative conversations with students about uniforms rather than being able to get on with teaching and learning.  But a uniform does seem to engender a collective sense of belonging and being part of a whole community.  As a parent the initial cost of a uniform is mind blowing but where schools have good quality suppliers, even boys find it difficult to destroy their uniforms and in the long term they are cheaper than Mufti!

11. Choose a verb, a noun, and an adjective to describe you.

14 yr old son says bossy, husband says pucker (I pucker my lips when concentrating and he is always reminding me not to – probably doing it now!), or run (everywhere – always in a hurry).  I am struggling with this question …. stubborn, determined, impatient, positive – they are all adjectives.  The linguist in me says that you can’t use nouns and verbs to describe someone so I’ll stick to adjectives!

I will be tagging @RowanTaigel, @Gaylharr, @anitsirk, @AmyMMcCauley, @essigna, @sorotki, @kirstie_C, @chrisswift, @AnneSturgess2, @gcouros, @traceymorgan

Now for the really difficult part – 11 questions of my own… starting with the deep and meaningful…

  1. Red wine or white wine?  Or beer?
  2. Pure unadulterated coffee or with white fluffy stuff in it?
  3. Milk chocolate or dark chocolate?
  4. What or where is your favourite place? Why?
  5. How far back can you trace your family tree? Where do your ancestors come from?
  6. If you could choose a moment in time to live in, when would it be? Why?
  7. What is your favourite song/piece of music? Why?
  8. What are the top 5 things on your bucket list?
  9. Which political or historical figure (living or dead) do you most respect/admire? Why?
  10. Which genre of art do you like best?
  11. What emotions do these three images stir in you?
    1. View of a city from the roof top of a high building.  The sky is blue, it is a beautiful day. The buidlings are a mixture of tall modern sky scrapers and old, more traditional buildings with red roofs.






painting of caver crawling on hands and knees in a low cave passage

teenage boy wearing track pants and black tee shirt walking up a hill.  A man is behind him lower down the slope.  In the background are forested hills.  The sky is blue and the ocean is on the horizon.

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