Monday, 11 September 2017

Shift Workshop - Alan Turing

I was so pleased that although still not feeling too well we made it to the Alan Turing Shift Pattern Craft Workshop, celebrating the early work of Alan Turing lead by Gemma May Latham and David Whale. .

We had so much fun, cracking codes and the best part was meeting David Whale who is the technical advisor to The Institution of Engineering and Technology (The IET) for the BBC micro:bit project, and has written a number of the resources used both by the BBC and The IET to name our favourite the BBC Dr Who and the Dalek Coding Game.

Call us geeks but we were very excited and even managed to get his autograph.

The workshop was lots of fun and as it was a very small group of only 4 kids and 3 adults we got to ask as many questions as we liked and spend as much time on what we were doing without having to rush onto something else before the kids had got to grips with what they were already doing.

Both Olivia and Oliver got suck in and it was lovely seeing the fruits of our labour coming to fruition again, as although we have covered some coding concept over the years it is not something we have covered in any depth and the knowledge they had of what they were doing was pretty impressive,  it was another confirmation moment that home education does work and the kids pick things up all the time and are able to apply that knowledge when needed, as long as they are exposed to various concepts at some point they will pick it up without realising.

So again as with the recycling centre, I am very pleased that we braved it despite not feeling great.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Home educating during illness!..

It has been a hard week this week, we have all been struck with a tummy bug.

Saturday was a touch and go day but we managed to go to the Caravan and Circus Raj performance, by Sunday Olivia was throwing up like a good un, so Monday was a day of pitty and a lack of sleep, Tuesday was pretty much the same as by this time Oliver started throwing up throughout the night.

By Wednesday I had completely lost what day it was and by Thursday I started feeling pretty rough myself but I had a client dropping off some stock and I knew I had to go and do some buying for work so peeled us off the couch to get some fresh air and get some work done.

We decided to brave it and go to the recycling centre tour, which was brilliant and I am so glad we braved it for the day. I got to see another home edder who I had not seen for about 3 years, it was really lovely bumping into her there, after the tour we came home, dumped off the work stuff I purchased earlier in the day and spent the rest of the day vegged out on the couch followed by throwing up myself the rest of the night.

Friday was a complete wright off and I had given up by this point and the twins did not even get to Badgers.

I received a call earlier on in the day finding out why we had missed this weeks lessons on the photography course  I had completely forgotten we had booked onto. I didn't even have the energy to call or email them back.

Saturday we had planned to go on the heritage open day, where we get to go to places you wouldn't normally get to go, but, feeling like we do I think we will try that one next year.. 

We will have Saturday off and just go to the Shift workshop celebrating Alan Turing's early work on Sunday instead, we all should be feeling slightly better by then,.

I can firmly say this week has been a total washout, we have all been moody and short tempered and quite frankly we are all starving, beans on toast and soup just doesn't cut it with these kids, although I have not eaten anything all week, I cannot wait to have a proper cooked meal that will stay down.

Lets hope we get a better week next week as it is going to be busy catching up with work and getting back into the swing of things, I was about to redecorate the kids bedroom this week, but only ended up sorting through and throwing away their old clothes, the toy cull can come next week when we are all more in the mood, trying to clear their room out to decorate is hard enough without being ill at the same time.

Onwards and upwards and looking forwards to a better, healthier week...


Thursday, 7 September 2017

Why I will never discuss race and racism with white people again!..

I entered into a conversation the other day with a white person about why 'black face' is viewed as being racist', any black face not just selective black face such as the incident in Aberaeron which you can read about here.

The unfortunate thing about being educated on these things is that it is tiring and draining trying to educate others on why these things, time and time again come up as offensive. Despite people being told time and time again that these things are offensive, these things still continue to be done and vehemently defended.

That tells you racism is ingrained and alive and well,  people stay ignorant and continue to repeat the same behaviours trying to preserve it's normalcy.

Racism is part of the system and some people do not even see it.

The same with golliwogs, both blackface and golliwogs are famously known as being viewed as 'racist' yet you will still find people defending it to the hilt as to why they are not, despite never producing any evidence to the contrary, yet receiving lots of evidence why they are. These people usually end up just confirming their racist tendencies and biases that they refuse to even admit to possessing, usually due to being blinded by that white privilege they posses that keeps them all safe and warm in their little bubbles, after all it is not them being offended, so why should they care about the views and feelings of this lesser species called black people or people of colour...

Usually the ignorance is astounding and despite explaining in as simple terms as possible and providing evidence instead of rhetoric which is all you usually received back, they exert their white supremacy views even more forcefully without them even being aware of doing just that.

For example they usually without even a thought or pause to even think about what they are actually saying, end up telling you that you should not be offended by traditions that have been ingrained in society to ridicule and put down blacks, devised in a time when black face was used to perpetuate demeaning stereotypes and continues to this day.

You usually find them talking over you like you are invisible in the conversations with daft statements, in the last conversation I reference at the beginning of this blog post 'we're not allowed to be offended by black people whitening up, yet, we're offending people in reverse'.. Not that I could get a word in edgeways with their little tag team, that may be their opinion but it certainly isn't mine, in case they had not noticed I am a black person and I do not agree with white face either, it is equally abhorrent despite it not being racist, by them saying that statement it just makes them sound vindictive with off base tit for tat, if they are so offended by white face then they should surely know how offensive black face is, the fact that was even brought up highlights their racist core.

For those with an education in racism, power is at the heart of black face, specifically, using one’s power to take something important from someone else and use it for ridicule or entertainment. Both black face and white face is equally vile in my opinion.

The Bacup Coconuters in Lancashire is anther example, they have been told it is viewed as racist, yet you will still get those people that will defend it, the ironic thing is they don't even know the true origins of the costume of black face the morris dancers wear, they have theories skirting round the fact that the origins are unclear, (see here) so they have no way of educating the public on the origins, unfortunately for them, today whatever its true history is, the act is now seen and associated as racist. 

Being interested in history I have my own theories on the tradition, marrying it up with the period in the first half of the 1600s, Barbary corsairs - pirates from the Barbary Coast of North Africa, authorised by their governments to attack the shipping of Christian countries - ranged all around Britain's shores. In their lanteen-rigged xebecs (a type of ship) and oared galleys, they grabbed ships and sailors, and sold the sailors into slavery. Admiralty records show that during this time the corsairs plundered British shipping pretty much at will, taking no fewer than 466 vessels between 1609 and 1616, and 27 more vessels from near Plymouth in 1625. As 18th-century historian Joseph Morgan put it, 'this I take to be the Time when those Corsairs were in their Zenith'. 
Morgan also noted that he had a list, printed in London in 1682' of 160 British ships captured by Algerians between 1677 and 1680. Considering what the number of sailors who were taken with each ship was likely to have been, these examples translate into a probable 7,000 to 9,000 able-bodied British men and women taken into slavery in those years.

Not content with attacking ships and sailors, the corsairs also sometimes raided coastal settlements, generally running their craft onto unguarded beaches, and creeping up on villages in the dark to snatch their victims and retreat before the alarm could be sounded. Almost all the inhabitants of the village of Baltimore, in Ireland, were taken in this way in 1631, and other attacks were launched against coastal villages in Devon and Cornwall. Samuel Pepys gives a vivid account of an encounter with two men who'd been taken into slavery, in his diary of 8 February 1661.' the Fleece tavern to drink and there we spent till 4 a-clock telling stories of Algier and the manner of the life of Slaves there; and truly, Captain Mootham and Mr Dawes (who have been both slaves there) did make me full acquainted with their condition there. As, how they eat nothing but bread and water.... How they are beat upon the soles of the feet and bellies at the Liberty of their Padron. How they are all night called into their master's Bagnard, and there they lie.' The very casualness of the account makes it clear just how commonplace unfortunates like Moontham and Dawes were in 17th-century Britain. Britons in later years have boasted that they 'never will be slaves,' but during these years they were enslaved all too often.

Maybe that is the forgotten story these dancers are telling, their reference to Cornwall is certainly correct and correlates, as that was the main place the Algerian pirates took their British slaves from or maybe According to the American Morris News (2005), "It is most commonly thought that the origin and function of blackface in Morris dancing lies in primitive disguise rather than an imitation of black men. However, this is not definitely the case. Accounts of the Morris of Shakespeare's time make no mention of blackface, while the border teams contemporary with minstrel shows typically blacked up. American minstrel shows, if not the actual origin of blackface among Morris dancers, at least contributed to its popularity."

Robert Hornback (2008) has a different viewpoint, comparing border morris to crude parodies of African tribal war dances, and cites the blackface of Morris dancing as part of racist practices in Britain that predate American minstrelsy and, in fact, contribute to the minstrel tradition

Being someone who respects history it would be sad to stop the tradition, I say carry on the tradition but remove the black face as part of the costume, then no one can be offended. It is time people respected others and the offence caused, particularly when there is no solid evidence of its origins and considering those origins are marred in the depressing fact of why black face was used in more recent times.

So what about people who say they are using blackface as a form of homage? Here again, we should return to the question of power and control. Regardless of intent, you can’t separate blackface from its colonial history – because the negative effects of this history still shape people’s lives today. Should people have the right to take someone else’s ethnicity for a day, use it for their own purposes and then drop it? The dominant (white) culture has, for so long, taken things from people of colour – whether it be stories or treasures – because it could. .The history of blackface has shown us that, regardless of intent, this practice cannot be seen as respectful and will offend people.

So therefore anyone in this day and age using black face does so with full knowledge of the offence it can cause whether intentional or not with that in mind those that forge forwards and do it anyway can be firmly classed as a racist.

The usual conversations with 'white people' will always defend 'black face'.. you get lines like 'it is traditional'.. yes well we all know it is traditional and why, so when are you going to move on from the old colonial ways and get with the current times and respect the fact that it is now deemed offensive.

Once you have been told the reasons why something is offensive you would think the education they have just received will sink in and they will change their racist behaviour but sadly this is not always the case as white people fail to see their own ingrained racism and will continue to exert their supremacy by insisting that the person of colour has no rights to be offended... just as the typical supremacist thinks, blacks are not human therefore have no rights to feelings and should shut up and put up with racism as long as it does not interfere with their own sensitivities.

Its like banging your head against a brick wall, people of colour are telling you it is offensive, is it only the supreme white race that can decide what is and what is not racist?,  it would appear so in the grand scheme of things and the way these people talk.

If we want to have a more harmonious society then we should stop doing these things as they are offensive and distressing to some citizens. this is what they fail to hear!.

I have come to the conclusion that it really is a waste of time trying to educate those that are racist without realising it due to the ingrained racism in society that people are brought up with, it's just far easier to let them continue, sit there and smile and get comfortable with the white supremacy world we live in.

I thank wholeheartedly those that came before to raise these issues, otherwise I would still be facing 'no blacks , no dogs and no Irish signs all over the place, like there were when I was younger, in the 80's prejudice was very high in Britain. 

The Black People’s Day of Action on 2 March 1981 brought around 25,000 people onto the streets of London to protest against the massacre of 13 young Africans in a fire, suspected to have been caused by racists, at a birthday party in New Cross in South London. Protesters also attempted to highlight the misconduct of the Metropolitan Police force in their subsequent investigation, the bias of the press, the inadequate response of the government to the tragedy and the generalised racial discrimination in British society. Added to the problem of racial discrimination, the Conservative government’s economic programme was making conditions worse in many poorer communities in inner city areas.

Between April and August that year there was violent urban unrest in St Paul’s in Bristol, Brixton in South London, Toxteth in Liverpool, Moss Side in Manchester, Handsworth in Birmingham, and elsewhere in the country. Covert and overt racism continues  plainly in sight of all to see continuing to create controversy whether done for attention or not, people seem to be in denial about it, when they should be horrified.

You get a sense of what those that came before fighting these issues where up against, I appreciate their struggles and can often imagine those everyday conversations with people defending why blacks had no right to vote or why those racist adverts are not racist.

My heart always sparks for those that fought the good fight and continue to do so, there is a long bumpy way to go but my heart always dies a little when I get into conversations with people about something racist they are defending, the ignorance rings in my ears and the supremacist attitude they take makes me feel nauseous during the conversation, I always try to continue explaining but it always becomes clear they are blinded by their white world they live in, I live in hope that I will penetrate their white walls around them, but seldom this happens.

I have always been afraid throughout my life of expressing why something is racist to a white person, I usually nod the head, smile and the moment usually passes on and the white person being racist continues on in their ignorance, I try to not upset their white fragility when they are confronted with realities but as I get older it has become clear that every person of colour should speak up instead of waiting for the moment to pass, people need to be educated that is what our forefathers did for us and we owe that to the next generations to do the same, the freedoms we have gained over the past 50 years have not come from people staying quiet, it has come from people speaking up and challenging damaging behaviour.

Being brought up in a white family and having mainly white friends and living in a white world teaches you to put up and shut up for fear of upsetting people by correcting their behaviour or pointing out why they have offended, you always hear the 'well I have a black friend' or 'I have a black relative, like it is some kind of well done badge'..

Can I touch your hair, or I've never tried a black girl. Conforming to the stereotype and talk about cooking chicken for an hour. The where do you come from, no where do you really come from? question. You are not like a black girl, been followed in shops and accused of shoplifting, been called nigger, paki, wogg, finished by a boyfriend for being black as his family was not happy with my skin tone, my children stating they wish their mummy was white, sacked from a job for complaining about a racist email, been avoided by people just because of the colour of my skin, been labelled as an angry black person when speaking out against racism, been randomly shouted at with racist derogatory words on the street by random strangers, had racist graffiti sprayed on my car, my child called a dirty little black bastard by one of their own relatives. I have sat and watched so called friends post racists memes, comments and jokes, I have been employed in jobs to make up the 'ethnic numbers', had a neighbour shouting expletive racist remarks to the point I had to move house, been told I am not allowed to be offended by something that is racially offensive, while working as a care assistant told they didn't want a dirty black bastard touching them I was to get a white assistant instead, had an intelligence test during my adoption process as a child in the 70's based on my skin colour to try to prove black adoptees are thicker than white adoptees, been told to go back to the jungle, told by a social worker not to report abuse because no one would believe me a), because I was a female and b), because I was black, I have been told I am racist because I am pointing out racist behaviour, the list goes on.

So while some white people want to deny that racism exists, I can testify that it does so the next time you want to tell me something is not racists when it actually is, check your own white privilege of not having to deal with it and constantly wait for the next event to add to the list.

Don't start telling me about your experience of racism in an attempt to make my experience meaningless, stop with the reverse racism card, it is a myth and makes you look silly, Prejudice against white folks is not racism, it's prejudice or discrimination. Racism is far more complex than one person not liking another, racist and prejudice is not interchangeable, racism is a concept that operates on both an individual and institutional level, You wouldn't know what racism feels like unless you lived in South Africa. All you do is reveal your deep rooted racist beliefs more when you pull out that card. 

People of colour should be able to celebrate their black history, culture and heritage and protest in support of their rights without it being labelled as an attack on white people, prejudice is never acceptable, I think that white people who feel victimized by progress need to understand that people of colour are doing what they can to be seen as equal in a system that is strongly biased against them. White people will never be on the receiving end. Instead of feeling threatened by the efforts made to create an equal playing field for people of all races, white people need to relinquish their positions of power and do what they can to fight against the systemic oppression of people of colour.

I am not the only person that feels like this there are many people who express the same things across the web. A recent article entitled why I am not speaking to whites about race states exactly what I am saying but in simpler terms,

I can no longer engage with the gulf of an emotional disconnect that white people display when a person of colour articulates their experience. You can see their eyes shut down and harden. It’s like treacle is poured into their ears, blocking up their ear canals. It’s like they can no longer hear us.
“This emotional disconnect is the conclusion of living a life oblivious to the fact that their skin colour is the norm and all others deviate from it.
“At best, white people have been taught not to mention that people of colour are “different” in case it offends us. They truly believe that the experiences of their life as a result of their skin colour can and should be universal. I just can’t engage with the bewilderment and the defensiveness as they try to grapple with the fact that not everyone experiences the world in the way that they do.

The rest of the article can be read here 

I feel the same, tired, exhausted with 45 years of the same thing and many more to come, it is exhausting and  I will never again fall for the show me proof of racism request that many white people resort to whenever a  person of colour expresses their experience with racism. Despite all the studies and research papers, video after video and experts after expert and scholar after scholar, every academic, every journal, every scientific institution, every personal experience story told, it is still ignored and dismissed anyway. 

The emotionally insidious and pathological deflection strategy designed to protect white people from encountering any reality that doesn’t make them feel like the most special and innocent snowflakes at the dead centre of the universe,  it is a complete and utter waste of my time and energy.

There are much better conversations to be had than just stating facts when someone does not want to accept them and just end up subjecting me to the predictable Godwin's Law.

Nelson Mandela said, "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." he missed out the point that education is only useful if people want to learn..

Zita holdborne states

We have to tackle the roots of racism or we will continue reacting rather than preventing. We have to break down the barriers that divide us and expose racism. Nobody is born racist. It's a disease - the longer you leave it, the more it spreads, but if you cut it out when the first signs emerge you have a better chance of curing it. We must be confident and empowered to challenge racism as soon as it rears its head, because each time we ignore it, the racists feel emboldened. We will never cure every single person of racism but we can tackle the roots and make it clear that it will not be tolerated using the tools available to us - not just laws and policies but the goodness of the human heart and our united strength - to overcome. 

I have some very good friends who listen and those that attempt to understand and learn more about a person of colours experience with racism, those allies are precious to me, they make me feel like there is hope for the next generations and one day no person of colour will have to suffer any kind of abuse due to the colour of their skin, no person of colour will feel the effects of passive racism by having their own feelings, views and experiences denied at the expense of a white supremacists own emotions. I have hope that one day the colour of ones skin will not determine how they progress in life, the same as many people that have come before have also hoped for....

I watch every day the discourse of racism unfold, the way minorities are spoken about in the media and on social media and generally throughout every day life, the way they are demeaned, ridiculed and dismissed only to have that outright racism denied by their authors, as we see in in Teun A. van Dijk paper on Denying Racism:- Elite Discourse and Racism paper where it states:-

Racism, defined as a system of racial and ethnic inequality, can survive only when it is daily reproduced through multiple acts of exclusion, inferiorisation or marginalisation. Such acts need to be sustained by an ideological system and by a set of attitudes that legitimate difference and dominance. Discourse is the principal means for the construction and reproduction of this socio- cognitive framework. At the same time, there are norms and values of tolerance and democratic humanitarian-ism, which may be felt to be inconsistent with biased attitudes and neg-ative text and talk about minorities. To manage such contradictions,white speakers engage in strategies of positive self-presentation in order to be able credibly to present the others in a negative light. Dis-claimers, mitigations, euphemisms, transfers, and many other forms of racism denial are the routine moves in social face-keeping, so that ingroup members are able to come to terms with their own prejudices. At the same time, these denials of racism have important social and political functions, e.g. in the management of ethnic affairs and the de-legitimation of resistance. We have seen that, especially in elite dis-course, for instance in the media and in the legislature, the official versions of own-group tolerance, and the rejection of racism as an implied or explicit accusation, are crucial for the self-image of the elite as being tolerant, understanding leaders. However, we have also seen how these strategies of denial at the same time confirm their special role in the formulation and the reproduction of racism.

'Moaning' about such things as  Black Face' and 'golliwogs' and the lack of diverse children's authors and books, a lack of black British history on the school curriculum, inequalities in higher education, people loosing their lives to racists, discrimination with unfair practices and policies in football, police brutality and institutional racism, Politicians using racist language, black and minority teachers facing deep rooted endemic and institutional  racism in schools as reported by Runnymead trust, the list goes on and on and on and is all part of this racist white supremacist society that we live in built and sustained on racism.

If you do not stand up and speak out about racism, then you are part of the problem, if you do not even attempt to understand beyond your comfortable white world something that you can never imagine, if you continue to deny something is racist when you have been quite plainly told that it is, then you are part of the problem.

Yes I am done trying to explain nicely with fear of upsetting your white fragility, I am done being called a racist when I point out your racist behaviour and you know no better than to defend your racist supremacist views in that ignorant white bubble, yes I am done trying to discuss racism with white people, because until white people want to listen, learn and understand, then people will continue to bang their head against brick walls.

How refreshing it would be to hear people admit that he or she has occasional racist or misogynistic thoughts and recognise the need to counter them with meaningful and effective action instead of hypocritical denials and deflection. I doubt that will ever happen in my lifetime.

Racism is complicated and it is more than just name calling, or denying someone a job or the opposite due to their skin colour, or speaking about someone badly, or wearing 'black face and selling Golliwogs, it is a whole system of events, the fundamental social mechanism that generates inequalities in society, the racists who are conscious and the racists who are not self conscious and the institutional racism all make up critical aspects of racism. It is time to wake and people will not stop 'moaning' until that social mechanism is torn down and burned. 

What I will do is continue to learn and continue to share my experience and continue to speak out, what I wont do is engage with white people in a conversation  based around Godwins law, denial and blame. 

My responsibility is to myself, my own self development, my own self-responsibility, my own education and understanding of racism, my own fight with internalized racism and my own improved navigation of an existence living in a racist world, my responsibility is not to those sick outwardly vile racist people who think their denials and pathetic attempts to disguise it actually works, because it doesn't, it just invokes a pity in me that wonders what it must be like to live with so much hate towards someone just because of the colour of their skin, sad, very sad but it makes me grateful I am me and not you because that would be totally awful to live with so much hate.

Akala Sums up these everyday micro aggressions nicely, so next time you want to defend black face and Golliwogs, be honest and admit to yourself what kind of racist you are, a conscious racist or a not conscious racist and then do yourself a favour and get educated.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

First day of the new term!

And we have vomit, lots of vomit!.. not much work going on around here while we have poorly tummies going on... Looks like we are in for a quiet week for our first week back, it will be reading, cartoons and lots of sympathy!... 


Saturday, 26 August 2017

Our New Adventure Down Crafting Road!

Oh my word it has just hit me that it will soon be Christmas!!!... Arrrggghh.. That is exactly what I thought...

I was searching for some crafting materials as we have planned to do a wall mural for our Infrastructure project but have been severely held back due to not being able to find the crafting materials that we need for it!.

We popped into a local store that sells recycled crafting materials as we thought that would be the most appropriate way to do it, we ended up coming away with not very much. The problem was not that they did not have what we wanted but the problem was we didn't know what we wanted.

We have problems in the way we work that has pretty much shone through with this project and that is that we do not plan well enough.

I have never been a great planner, it has always been my downfall and it has shown trying to get this Infrastructure wall art project going.

We are so spontaneous that we usually just 'start doing it' so having to go out and find what we want is so monotonous, I was looking online and came across Create and Craft, the first thing that hit me was the Christmas Crafts, I thought wow we could make things for Xmas this year, do some personalised cards, so I started to fill up my basket, considering they are on a clearance sale I thought why not.

So considering I am not very good at planning I feel pretty pleased with myself that I have actually managed to plan ahead for our Christmas Crafts Making and find a way to be able to get the things we need for our Infrastructure wall mural, all with the help of Create and Craft.

The other great thing about having an online crafting site to go to is that we can decide what we want by having a look and seeing what is appropriate for what we want at the time, no trundling round loads of shops in the hope we find something that we might be able to use.

Create and Crafts delivery is pretty quick, they have great prices and they have lots of variety so I think they will now become my go to when it comes to crafting. 

I cannot actually believe it has taken so long to find them, not being a crafter of any kind with no creative bone in my body the site is easy to use, I can search by occasion or type of craft we want to do, Olivia loves Jewellery making and baking and painting she is so creative, it will help me no end meet her needs.

They have a membership club that costs £20 per year but has a half price offer at the moment, we have joined up. We get a magazine which Olivia will absolutely love, plus a few other added benefits which will make our crafting adventures exciting now, instead of an occasion I dread.

It feels like a new adventure down crafting road for me and I feel quite excited about it that I can finally help Olivia with her artistic endeavours much better than I ever could before finding Create and Craft.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Favourite Learning to Read Tools!

I was looking back over some posts being a little nostalgic and came across a previous post I wrote about us abandoning phonics. Well we didn't abandon it completely, but I found this fantastic book called 'Teach your child To Read in 100 easy lessons', you can read that post here. 

I cannot praise this book enough, I believe this book transformed the twins reading progression and helped them become the good little book readers that they are, it also helped them with their writing, I cannot believe it has been three years since we were on that book.

I love looking back on some of the posts I have written over the past few years, it is lovely to see the progression that the kids are going through. I was apprehensive when I started this blog, but I am so very happy that I did now, the memories put smiles on my face, the moans and groans I used to get while we used the 'Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons', I can hear myself saying to them "Yes but it's working, lets stick it out a while longer"... 

They actually agreed with me and although the twins found it a tad monotonous, it was working, they could tell it was, so even they too wanted to 'stick it out'.

That was a good decision from all of us, I feel. If I had to choose two favourite tools that I have used with the twins on our educational Journey so far, I have to say this book 'Teach your child to read in 100 Easy Lessons' and reading eggs have to be my absolute favourites, you can grab your copy from ebay here, there are some really good priced used ones on ebay or sign up to reading eggs below.(click on the reading eggs Free Trial).

Although I do believe that by limiting the twins screen time and concentrating more on physical books instead of electronic devices has helped them no end.

Focusing on using two methods, electronic device and books has given them a love of reading that I never had as a child, well not until I was an older child, it was not until about the age of 10 that I started to pick up a book of my own accord and enjoy reading just for the sake of it.

It is really lovely when the twins ask me to get a certain book, they now have a growing wish list of books they want to read!.

If you want to see some of the books we have read take a look at our Book of the week list. If you have any books you would like to suggest and think we will enjoy then please feel free to leave me a comment on the book of the week list comments thread.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Annoying habits!

One thing I notice during this time of the year is all the parents getting overly excited about getting the kids back in school and I often get asked 'how do you cope with the kids all day, every day?'.

Let me tell you, I feel the same way sometimes. I have those days when I think to myself that I could just pick up the phone and register them in a school, just for a break.

The twins are not without their bad habits that drive me crackers, 

Turning the TV over incessantly, bleep, bleep, bleep , bleep, bleep for every channel they surf over, it makes my blood boil, I can take it for a few seconds but after what feels like half an hour of bleep, bleep, bleep, bleep, my nerves just cave in!.

Olivia will sit and tap, tap, tap, tap her feet constantly, she loves her heels on her shoes and likes to make sure she can hear them, I get that, but when it comes to clonk, clonk, clonk up the stairs, stomp, stomp, stomp where ever she walks, she is soooo heavy footed, in January when I stayed with my sister for a while it drove her potty too, so I know it isn't just me, stomp, stomp, stomp, every time she goes up the stairs. I now realise why Ballet classes are important for little girls from the early age of 2, I shot myself in the foot there not providing ballet lessons.

Clothes on the bathroom floor, oh my word, every time I walk into the bathroom I am faced with a Mount Everest of clothes just strewn on the floor, this drives me potty, I can be nice and remove the pile as I walk back down the stairs but half an hour later I can walk back in and 'bingo',a new Mount Everest on the floor staring at me like it's jumping out saying 'hi, did you miss me'.. 

This goes equally with the 'are your clothes in the wash' irritant, I can ask and ask and ask the kids ten times a day, "are your dirty clothes in the dirty wash basket",  I may as well be talking in Swahili as they will always say "yes" yet miraculously on a Sunday when I just start to think 'great I can have a day off washing' and there is only one sock left in the washing basket, I ask those dreaded words, "are you really sure you have no dirty washing in your room"', then 'bam' half an hour later my kitchen is swimming in washing from all the washing they 'forgot' to bring down, and back to swimming in dirty washing I go!.

These are just a few of the things that drive me potty, every day occurrences, there are plenty more such as when you spend time lovingly folding their clothes like a manifestation of a piece of art from 'The Fabric Of Art' exhibition at the National Gallery, all to make it easy for them to carefully pop into their drawers and a day later popping your head round the door and all those clothes you folded lovingly are now strewn all over the floor looking like Tracey Emin has been let loose in there'..

Oliver with his 'Verbomania' as soon as a film comes on that I eagerly waited to watch all week, rambling on in his dulcet tone, explaining to me exactly what is happening like he is the new beta test of 'subtitles'.

These two have plenty of annoying habits and no I don't cope with them but I do accept them because quite frankly, I have no choice!.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

How we use strewing in our home education!

I often get asked how I manage to home educate the twins. It is a very big question to answer, as we do countless things that contribute to the twins education  it is very difficult to summarise all of it in a few sentences. However, breaking it down there are a few aspects or things that I do frequently that I have found really beneficial to us as a home educating family.

One of them is “Strewing”. No, not the kind of strewing where the kids empty all their drawers of clothes and throw them all over their bedroom floor when I ask them to get dressed, although that is one version of strewing.

Strewing, a term said to have been coined by Sandra Dodd, in a home education context is the art of allowing your child to discover something you have casually left out for them to discover for themselves, providing a resource in a way that allows a child to discover it for themselves and learn naturally from it.

Sometimes the 'seed does not work out, but other times it develops nicely, my trick is to ensure my cover is never blown, I know I am successful when they delight in telling me all about it.

A recent example is my painting a flower post, I found a youtube video of a lady painting a flower, by accident, I knew Olivia loves drawing so I said to her 'look at this video it's so cool.. she looked and she looked some more and the next thing she is painting flowers and asking for new paint brushes and painting equipment, for Oliver it was a book I saw in the charity shop, an old fashioned book on how to draw different figures, he didn't seem interested at first because there was a lot of writing in there, until I pointed out the Dinosaur pictures in there, he then went on to spend the next few days drawing faces and copying different techniques out of the book reading it as he went along, Olivia also took up some time drawing faces from the book.

This allows a strong, authentic learning experience without it being marred by an arbitrary agenda or stunted by frustration. 

Other examples might be again as I demonstrated in the Shel Siverstein post, where I left a book out after reading aloud and the next thing you know Oliver has his head stuck in the book. I might leave other books out or games lying around like chess. I may suggest a day trip to see something interesting like the Magna Carter and their curiosity runs wild and they end up researching for themselves what it is or like another post I wrote about our trip to a play about the Peterloo Massacre coupled with a trip to their favourite art gallery which happened to have a debate about contemporary art.

They learn organically, I plant the idea and they take it from there. It does not always work however, there are many occasions that I may suggest something or leave something around that they show no interest in at all, many a time things just flow and happen naturally.

With strewing I use resources to meet the educational and developmental needs of the twins in ways that are best for them; a kind of intensely tailored personal programme of learning. At the same time it is free from toxic stress and pressure that often discourages children from exploring something fully, with the fear that they will ‘get it wrong’. Another benefit is that it is a great way to engage several children of different ages with one resource; perfect for families with multiple children.

We strew all kinds of things in all different ways. We like working in subjects or topics, and strewing makes it easy to provide interesting resources that target specific areas of learning (depending on the age of the child think buttons/ counters/ LEGO/ something cut into pieces for maths; magazines /interesting stationary/ new books for English, etc).

Strewing can also be outside the home. Reading and playing games with posters in a doctors surgery playing spot the letter or find a fact, Pausing by a bus stop to look at the timetable may stimulate an interaction about time, or perhaps a socially-focussed discussion about lateness, or a more politically centred exchange about public services. Going to a new playground with different equipment is perfect for developing new physical skills. Booking a holiday or short break somewhere new opens up a world of learning potential and resources, from unfamiliar accents, to maps, to new food and landscape. 

Topics for us is one of the ways I can strew endless novelty into the twins path; so much so in fact that it would be almost impossible to stop them learning constantly.

One of the main points is that I do not present strewing ideas in the hope that the twins learn from them, I leave them out in the hope that they will enjoy the idea and it is a bonus if they do learn something from it.

The point of strewing is to open new doors to new ideas, to feed interests and hobbies, to provide  resources structure and information and sow seeds of potential. It must be presented in a way that is 100% willing participation. 

My job is not to be a teacher but more of a facilitator, I’m listening to their questions, watching their interests, and recognizing their potential. I’m not sitting down with lesson plans in mind or an objective to teach them certain skills. Instead, I’m filling their environment with opportunities to discover their world and allowing them to show me what they want to learn.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Book of the week - Where the Sidewalk Ends

We fell across this book by accident while looking for poetry inspiration for our infrastructure project, the poem we came across contained in the book is called 'Where the Sidewalk ends', (see Infrastructure roads poetry).

The poem is an adult poem, one of very few adult poems in this book, the rest are all silly children's poems, for instance my favourite one is 'A Running Giraffe'. because it is funny and imaginative and makes you laugh out loud.

The book is funny and full of creative and imagery flair, not only is it entertaining for the adult kids but also entertaining for the smaller kids too.

When the book arrived I read a couple of the Poems out loud to myself and the kids overheard and came running to listen to more, giggling along to each poem.

When I had finished I put the book down on the table to make a coffee, only to come back with Oliver eagerly reading away to himself. Bingo, what a great book, it must be to have inspired Oliver enough to pick it up.

The bonus to this book  is that Shel Silverstein has a great educational website to go along with his poems, packed with fun and games.

I purchased my copy of the book on ebay (click through here) as it was the cheapest place I could find to buy it, used of course but still in great condition.

This book brings laughter and smiles all round, inspirational enough to spend the rest of the day making up silly poems after reading it.

Shel Silverstein was one of those authors that broke the rules not just with his grammar but in life too, as before he wrote the children's books he wrote for Play boy and rubbed shoulders with Hugh Hefner.

Here is a little bit about his history..

The surprisingly sex filled life of Shel Silverstein

Despite his controversial lifestyle and works, he should be on every households book shelf, he was an award winning, witty, cheeky and mischievous, artistically talented and not afraid to challenge boundaries.

Shel Silverstein has many works available I think there are about 11 children's books that he produced and they are classed as classics and they can be purchased on eBay (click here), it has been said these books shaped many a child's growing up years and continue to inspire the next generation of poets.

I will certainly be having a rummage through the eBay listings and seeing what I can lay my hands on, Shel Silverstein has definitely earned a place on our bookshelf!.

I am so very grateful to our 'infrastructure Project' as although not really related, we would never have discovered Shel Silverstein without it.