Friday, October 23, 2009

In which I rant.

Garbage truck.
Move back, please.
Fill it up, please.

I give you a fragment of O’s vocabulary. He will be two in November. He climbs on phone books to paint or crayon at an easel, drags his high chair over to the kitchen bench to splash in the kitchen sink, and converses quite happily.
Suzukisinger and I have many discussions about the possibilities and pitfalls for parenting. She’s worried when she meets three-year-olds who identify garbage trucks, transporter trucks, big trucks, little trucks, cranes, bobcats and cement trucks as “truck”. Me too.
Clearly that’s all their parents think they’re capable of.
I worry that we live in a world that dumbs down because we think children are incapable of understanding complex concepts. They’re not. They might be currently unable to articulate them (and I am the first to admit that O’s exclamations occasionally confound me just as much as delight), but why limit their understanding by catering to their physical ability to articulate?
A good friend of mine was horrified when a father told his two-and-a-half year-old son “That’s a propeller. Oh no, that’s too hard for you. That’s a prop. A prop!”
Hmmm. Well done, dad. Baby talk is cute. It’s not so cute when you inflict it upon your child. I’ve decided this is effectively retarding your child’s development.
Who knows what a Galileo thermometer is?
How would you find out? Type it into Google? I’m currently offline, so can’t do this myself, but I hypothesise that among the top five sites will be a Wikipedia entry which will show me the thermometer, explain how it works, perhaps give me a hint to it’s origins and evolution… maybe even link to suggestions for it’s use.
It’s Wednesday. I’m at school. Lunchtime in the well-populated staffroom:
Grade 5/6 teacher to assembled cohorts: “So, does anyone know how a Galileo thermometer works?”
Principal: “What’s a Galileo thermometer?”
 5/6: “You know, one of those glass tubes with all the little balls of colored water inside, and they change places when it gets hotter or cooler?”
Me (because I have a habit of sticking my supersize oar into discussions WHENEVER possible and stirring vigorously): “Um, they’re not full of water. They’re actually different liquids; like, chemically different, with different viscosity.”
Someone else: “Ooh, you know that and you’re the violin teacher!”
(Now, that’s another rant all by itself - which I chose not to become distracted by at that point. I know. MIRACULOUS. I could probably get a week’s worth of blogs out of that, but then you’d all get very sick of me and no-one would ever read my ranting again. Very sad. )
Me (attempting to fill gaping pit of silence which has just opened with twelve teachers staring at me): “You could probably stick it into Wikipedia and get a fairly common-sense explanation that the kids could relate to, but I think the movement of the globes relates to molecular excitation and the way they vibrate at different amplitudes according to temperature… which makes the liquid more or less dense than water so they sink or rise.”
Principal (possibly a little peeved, hard to be sure): “And how do you know all that?”
(Note: she was smiling at this point, but I’m not sure if it was the canine-baring of an animal protecting it’s gaping intestines until it’s last breath or something more friendly.)
Me (remember that reference to vigorous stirring? Remember, I’m in a primary school.): “Oh, sorry, I was homeschooled. I guess I know all kind of weird, random stuff. But – you know, the internet - it’s so easy to find stuff out now.”
5/6: “No, it’s far to hard to explain all that molecule-y stuff to kinds. They’ve got no clue!”
And whose fault is that?
I didn’t say it. I nearly did.
Hilariously, last night when recounting this to my in-laws, between the three of us we immediately came up with accessible ideas:
Matching kids up with the liquids. Talk about how the liquid will change with temperature and then say “It’s getting hotter!” Who rises? Who falls? Who can jiggle about the fastest demonstrating molecular excitation? What happens when movement slows?  This liquid is made up of smaller molecules and this is larger… what does that mean when THEY start to jiggle about? The possibilities are endless, and we haven’t even begun to think.
Oh my goodness… Some days I am so pleased and so proud of the kids that I teach for all that they achieve and all they understand, and other days I am devastated by the many ways we fail them every day.
How do we make our parents, teachers, schools sit up and realise that by continuing to expect mediocrity, we will barely achieve even that poor goal?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hooray for summer!

Yes, today was sunny, glorious, balmy - even warm - until about four o'clock. Enter the overcast. I find it hard to get stuff done in winter. I get up, it's cold. I shuffle about, it's cold. I shiver into multiple layers.... you get the picture. I know it's Australia and our winters are comparatively mild, but guess what? That just means we're really crap at heating space properly.

But today? I wore a skirt. As in, not jeans. I even accessorised. With a belt. I know, daring for a weekday and all. And I got stuff done. Washing, vacuuming, dishwashing, bench-wiping. People, I even scrubbed my shower. That's serious. I mean, that's where I just shrug and go "Whatever. Two people take showers in that space EVERY DAY. Of COURSE it's clean. I mean, I realise that mould enjoys warm damp environments just as much as the next parasitic life form, but it's a SHOWER. It's GOT to be clean."

Not today. Uh-uh. I cleaned that base and scrubbed that glass and even - EVEN - paid some attention to the grout. I know. And once again, since my status update of "Chelsea will never apologise for wanting bacon with mud cake." incited accusations of pregnancy, NO, I am not pregnant. I am merely stuffing my face with weird (and wonderful) combinations of food:

(a) out of boredom; the pug may be entertaining but isn't a great conversationalist, and paws are shite for card-playing, 

(b) out of anxiety and the panic attacks induced by a certain silvery-pale pink gumblossom leotard that in three weeks will accentuate every lump and bump on my torso until I resemble a small spray-painted whale, and

(c) I REALLY like mud cake. And bacon. And when you can have TWO things you really like instead of one, why stop at one. (Hence the DOUBLE-shot latte. Oh no, I was just feeling dopey and in need of a wake-up call.)

So anyway, today I wore a skirt. It's photo-worthy, but I put my camera in a drawer and then shoved a large and heavy dining table in front of it this afternoon which clearing space for group lesson, so no photo. Think royal-blue and silk. And long. So much more glamorous than harem pants (WHO thought that was clever? Hands up so we can cut them off for stupidity) but just as floaty-bohemian-lala and comfortable. I think this skirt may be threadbare by the end of summer. 

When you give in to the allure of harem pants, just remember the shape of your fleecy tracksuit pants WITH A CUFF that you thought were so fantastic when you were twelve or seven or thirty-two. Then put them back and walk away. Quickly. No-one looks good in harem pants unless simultaneously prepubescent and six feet tall... and then we nod and smile knowingly... "So exotic. So daring. Look at that stunning silhouette." Yes. LOOK. Don't WEAR. I have to stop now before I start listing all the clothes I really hate. What do you wish you'd never worn?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Food and Wine festivals...

are fun when they involve bands and dancing. I realise this is totally extraneous to them being FOOD and WINE festivals, but I'm a single-minded kind of person.

Actually, I'm not at all a single-minded kind of person. I'm the kind of person who gets very hyped by mud cake and double-shot lattes and says things like "I'll have the mud cake. Or whatever you have that's closest to mud cake. Can I have that with a side order of bacon? And a latte. A latte with an extra shot of coffee. With bacon?"

I didn't get bacon. Clearly the waiter thought I was some kind of crazy girl joking about bacon with mud cake. If you've ever eaten bacon with french toast/pancakes and maple syrup you will know I wasn't joking. Possibly he just thought I was some kind of crazy girl full stop.

I was a little crushed by the resultant absence of bacon, but admittedly, I ingested bacon some three hours previously with breakfast, so chocolate+sugar+caffeine+bacon-bacon (still) = happiness. And ice-cream! Cold sugary vanilla goodness with my chocolatey warm moist .... oh, it was a happy time.

Today was a lovely kind of meandering wandering day, eating and holding court from our sunny table. The advantages of living in a 'small town' are that you're never short of someone to talk to. Of course, you're also never short of someone to talk to. This makes escaping a little tricky sometimes. Nevertheless, my lingering malaise (I've had this cold for two weeks now!) and need to blow my nose provided convenient excuses for the guy I really can't stand dancing with; the others were all quite lovely. Quite.

And now to bed; real life resumes in nine hours and some attempt on my part to be rested and ready for another week is wise. Yes.