Tuesday, August 29, 2006

how do primary school teachers actually teach kids maths?

With chalk she drew a white circle on the board.

The children watched, pencils poised over paper.

Lily pressed her teeth into her lower lip, 'I'm going to draw it perfect this time'.

John thought about his mother, who was in work. 'I wish she was able to stay at home like the other John's mother'.

Lana couldn't resist and made a mark on the sheet, just a small dot. 'Why did I do that?' she thought, and looked left and right. 'They haven't noticed' she thought, and rubbed it out, brushing the curls of rubber away first with her hand, and then with a deep breath.

The teacher drew a line across the circle.

'So children', she said, 'what has happened to the circle?'

Lana stretched her arm high above her head, so far that her body was forced to stretch with it.

The teacher waited.

John looked behind him at the fancy dress box, where the hat sat. 'If we dress up, I want to be the guard, I would be a good guard, make all the bad people into the jail so all the people are happy' he thought.

Lily looked at Lana and thought, 'I wish I knew like Lana, she always knows the answer.'

The teacher spoke, 'Katie, what do you think has happened to the circle'.

Katie looked at the circle. 'It is hard to talk if you don't know' she thought.

The teacher smiled at her, 'just tell me what happened when I drew the line'.

Katie guessed, 'it broke the circle into bits? I don't know Miss, is that what happened?'

She nodded, 'Katie is right, isn't she? The circle broke into two pieces, didn't it?'

The class chanted, 'yes Miss'.

Teacher gave them a moment to look at the circle again.

'One, two, I think I see two' Lily thought.

John looked at the board, 'where are the...I don't see two circles?' he thought

Lana stared at the board, 'two… two…' she thought

Katie smiled 'I got it right' she nodded, 'how did I get it right?'

The teacher then took the chalk and wrote the digit '1' in the first half, and '1' in the second.

All four children smiled, relieved. They understood. The circle was broken into two.

The teacher then took the chalk and underneath she wrote '1 + 1 = 2'

Lily bit her lip again. 'What does that mean?' she thought.

Lana smiled, 'this is like the tv programme Daddy showed me' she thought.

John blinked and didn't think.

Katie looked out the window 'I wonder if my teddybear at home today is lonely or if he's having fun'.

The teacher spoke, 'one and one is equal to two. One half of a circle and one half of a circle are equal to two halves of a circle'.

She waited.

Repeat after me, 'one and one are equal to two'.

The children all spoke 'one and one are equal to two'.

The teacher asked them to repeat it again, and to copy it into their books. 'I hope they understand' she thought.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


He's the bumbling, cigar smoking, disorganised yet incisive Detective of my childhood, and the DVDs are just grand.

Yesterday I cancelled plans of charred meat and pints to sit in front of the box, watching the glass-eyed Peter Falk catching three murderers.

My favourite of the three I watched was 'Fade into Murder' which features William Shatner as a rather camp actor called Ward Fowler. Ward plays a television detective called 'Lieutenant Lucerne', and between the costumes, campness, and murder, I had an extremely entertaining evening.

Who knows what's next - a few DVDs of Murder She Wrote perhaps...

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Got back from Spain. Here's a brief synopsis, in the tradition of the hot and not list:

What's Hot

The Weather (I felt like Manny in Black Books, suffering from Dave's syndrome - I did, like 42, think that's about, ahem, 30 hotter than an average day here)

Also, the way in which they developed these incredible windy roads where each side of the street practically touches, just so the sun couldn't beat down on their heads.

And the way there are canopies high above the streets to protect shoppers from the sun, I've never seen that before.

Finally, all the sun in the day makes them super chilled in the pm, and means that dinner only happens after 10pm. Every city we were in was hopping well into the early hours.

Really Friendly people (these saint like patient people deigned to smile as we plundered and murdered their language)

Letting oranges plop onto people's heads from trees on the street (I'm such a sucker for fruit growing on trees rather than in plastic supermarket cartons)

Amazing moorish influence - the Alcazar in Seville, the Alhambra in Granada

Strange Food Intriguing menus that I little understood, and yet the food was yum (although it felt like the atkins diet - lots and lots and even more meat. But doughnuts for breakfast? And these people have the best figures...

- Me and Picasso, chilling out in the Prado in Madrid, really felt we had a moment. And what about Joan Miro, with his funky colours in Barcelona.

Not Hot

The beer (because it's chilled like)
The buses (because they're airconditioned like)

Also, I thought this is worth mentioning. When I got home, gushing like a broken hose pipe about Spain and the Spanish, I was telling a mate how gorgeous and thin most Spanish ladies are, and how I felt like a heifer until I landed in Dublin Airport where I coincidentally seemed surrounded by larger ladies and felt reasonably ok. Well, we were sitting there, tucking into chocolate and cakes, as one does, when my friend nodded and said,

'Yeah. But they're just built differently from us like, you know, they're just you know, lighter'.

I took another square of the obligatory airport Toblerone. Chomping this, I thought about the situation. I'd like to agree with her, but the reality is we're such pigs. They simply don't go around with their hands permanently going from crisp packet or chocolate bar or burger to mouth. They don't have a convenience store every 10 feet where display cabinets are strewn with layer upon layer of every type of candy coated confection man has developed over the two odd thousand years we've been doing so.

Monday, August 07, 2006

holiday! celebrate!

Go on holiday.

Forget your job, responsibilities, credit card balance, mortgage, whatever.

Just go.

Aw yes, I am liking Spain...

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