If my maths teachers could see me now

Intermediate School 

For the record, if you’re not from NZ, intermediate is a two-year school after primary school (elementary) and before high school (often called College in New Zealand). Intermediate is most Kiwi kids’ 7th and 8th year of schooling, and students are usually 11-ish when they start, like the first year of Hogwarts, but with fewer owls. Because we start school at 5, we have 13 years of schooling, now called Years 1-13, although when I went, it was New Entrants and J1, J2 (J standing for Juniors), and Standards 1-4 at primary school, followed by Form 1 and Form 2 at intermediate and 3rd-7th form at high school. Kindy (Kindergarten) is for 3 and 4 year olds.

In 1996 I first started to get the idea that maths wasn’t cool. Also, it was a bit boring, and we seemed to do the same stuff over and over again. Continue reading

Categories: Flashback, Learning, Teaching | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

How do you do that?

I had a question from a student.
“How did you learn to like reading?”
I thought for a moment.
“I don’t remember not liking it.”
His face fell.

Here is a student who wants to learn. This is the thing all teachers dream of. We think our jobs, nay, our lives would be so much better (unicorns and rainbows!) if only all students would feel this way. It’s a lot to ask. Teenagers are not well known for thinking logically, taking responsibility or making good decisions. Wanting to learn, and figuring out how to learn, are not easy things to do. Continue reading

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Reading and life

There is so much going on, and the last thing I should be doing is sitting amongst the piles of disorder in my room and writing this, but my mind is spinning and and I’ve been doing so much thinking lately!

The major source of my most recent thinkOD is the book Half the Sky: How to Change the World Continue reading

Categories: Books, Guiding, Introversion, Learning, Religion/spirituality, Saving the World | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


I cannot describe how wonderful it is that spring is here. I have more energy, more passion, more hope. I read somewhere once that English summers are the best, and unique, Continue reading

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Moroccan Checklist

Day 1.

  • Didn’t sleep at all for 24 hours prior to flight. Check
  • 3.20am: departed Pax Lodge. Check
  • Saw my bus pulling away 30 seconds before I reached the bus stop. Check
  • Froze. Check Continue reading
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We are better for having known you…

I just received some very sad news. Mrs Penney passed away the other night.

Violet Penney (I always knew her as Mrs Penney) was my neighbour when I was growing up. She babysat me before I can even remember. She used to give my brothers and I lollies, and let us help pick the moss from between the cement slabs in her back yard. She let me interview her for my fifth form history project. She always welcomed me with a smile and a rundown of what everyone in her family had been up to recently. She’s the exception to my dislike of old people.

We wrote to each other, sometimes, when I was overseas. She was a Southland girl who rolled her ‘r’s and went to the North Island once. When I heard that was as far as she had been, I was amazed. I’d always figured she was the type of person who had been places.

Mrs Penney was born in August, 1914. She had a lot of brothers and sisters, but not all of them made it through the 1918 influenza pandemic. Her life was so different to anything I know. She rarely spoke of her past, and when I asked she seemed confused by it, as though that length of time was too much for anyone to comprehend. I try to imagine experiencing all the changes she lived through. I can’t. She lost her husband when she was still young, and lived in the same house she lived in with him, number 46 Ravelston Street, for 50 years. When I was born she was 70. She was in good health for most of my childhood, and I remember her walking down to her Womens Institute meetings with her bag on wheels regularly. In the past decade, she’s been in and out of hospital more times than I can remember, but she never lost her positive attitude.

Even when she had something to complain about, she always put a positive spin on it. That’s one of the reasons I never thought of her as being old. She never seemed old to me. Well, not that I can remember. I knew she was old, but that wasn’t how I saw her.

She never tried to give me advice, but for one time. I was a teenager and had just gotten my learner’s licence. She told me it was important to learn to drive, because it gave you independence. That was the only time I ever felt any sense of regret on her part for anything she had or hadn’t done.

I guess I’ve always known that I should get to know her better, but in the end should haves don’t count for much. All I can say is that my life is richer for Mrs Penney having been a part of it.


Categories: Learning, New Zealand | 3 Comments

¿A Londres? ¡Si!

Is it possible? I think… I might be in love with a big city. Please let this honeymoon phase continue! Continue reading

Categories: Books, Learning, Saving the World, Travel | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Reflection on six weeks… or 25 years

Today is my last day in Canovelles/Granollers. This evening I will catch a train to Barcelona, only half an hour away, but I suspect I may never return to this small city. It’s been wonderful, and quite different from what I expected. In the past couple of weeks in particular, I’ve learned some things about myself. Things I didn’t know before.

That also means it’s six weeks since I started this blog. And I’m still loving it, and it’s keeping me in touch with friends, and giving me a reason to write, so thumbs up for blogging!

I finished reading Po Bronson’s What should I do with my life? and, of course, I got all introspective and started asking myself questions I can’t answer. Like, why did I just spend $3000(NZ) on an ELT course, and now I’m not even gonna use it for at least 6 months? Why do I spend so much time online when I love being outdoors so much? Why do I dream about having the chance to do nothing but write, but then when I get that chance, write very little? Why am I travelling? Will I ever feel like I belong anywhere? Will I ever be happy in one place… with one person?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not feeling maudlin or really doubting my decisions. I have reasons for doing everything I’ve done, and I’m happy with those reasons, I’m just trying to define exactly what I’m doing, and figure out if I’m on the right track to achieve my goals. I’m really excited about the job I’m starting in ten days or so. I’m in a generally good mood, but I still worry about my future.

So anyway, the book made me want to reassess my goals and I wrote some notes for myself, and wrote down my ‘limiting beliefs,’ like, “I’ll never live up to my potential,” “I’ll always crumble under pressure” and, “I’ll never ‘make it’ as a writer.” It’s nice to acknowledge these things, and say ‘hey, this is what I’m scared of.’ If I can name it, I can overcome it, right?

So I spent most of yesterday in the sunshine writing lists and goals and such like. And I still haven’t packed. Still my most hated activity: Packing. I just dislike it. It’s not even that hard this time; I don’t have to decide what to leave and what to take: it all comes with me, I just have to shove it in my bags and go. And yet, I put it off…

Tonight I’m meeting Matt (from Allen Hall days) in Barcelona! Yay! He’s here for an audition tomorrow. And I’m staying with Soraya and I get to see Alfred and then, next weekend, Maite and Maria and Brecht and Jorge, all from Oulu days! It’s going to be grand.

Tuesday week I fly to London, where I’ll meet my new co-workers, and a few weeks after I arrive, Tirian arrives to work at Pax Lodge, too. I met Tirian at Our Cabaña in 2007. It’ll be great to see her again. Have a lunch date with Jenny from high school in London on the 23rd, and after that… we’ll just have to see what happens. I’m hoping to find somewhere I can do zumba, and I’ve emailed the London Souwest Gang Show people to see if I can be involved – their show goes on in October. So many new and exciting opportunities! That’s what I’m all about.

And of course, I can’t think about values and goals without harking back to my three weeks at Outward Bound. Each watch creates a values system of five main values that they think are important. Kupe C518, thirteen amazing young people and myself, came up with B-FInGS: Five things to never forget in life.

  • B for Be your Bestness. Fairly self explanatory, and incorporating the Outward Bound philosophy of Greatness. With a capital G. Don’t just be; be Great.
  • F for Funness. What’s the point if you’re not having fun? Look for the positives and help others see them, too. Fun isn’t about just one person, it’s about everyone.
  • In for In-itness. Be ‘in it.’ Don’t hang back; give your all and play your part. Life is for living, don’t let it pass you by, and don’t watch while everyone else lives. Get involved in whatever way you can, even if it means stepping into the no-man’s land outside your comfort zone.
  • G for Got your Backness. Support. Life is not a solo journey. Be there for others, and trust that others will be there for you. You need a team to get most things done. If you find yourself alone, ask yourself why. Usually, people don’t leave you; you push them away or leave them behind. Got your Backness is about team work and looking out for one another. It’s about surrounding yourself with people who are important to you no matter what they can or can’t offer. What you can give them is often more important.
  • S for Straight-upness. Honesty. It’s simple and yet it’s really difficult to maintain. Be honest with yourself and others. If you need help, ask for it – a lesson I had to learn on Outward Bound, and one that doesn’t come easily to me. I pride myself on being independent. But I need other people just as much as anyone else. Don’t beat about the bush: tell the truth when it’s called for, offer help when you see it’s needed, ask for it when you can’t do it on your own. Be yourself, because no-one else will be.

Yeah, it should be B-FIGS, but B-FInGS sounds better.

Next blog post will be from Barcelona!


Categories: Guiding, Introversion, Learning | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

I are Englishee teachuh

It wasn’t easy, but I finished my CELTA training. I’m now qualified to teach people how to speak good Englandian (/ɪŋ’glændɪən/). Although I’d like to go with more of a NewZilnd approach, I often find myself Europising (/’jurə,pɑɪzɪŋ/) my language, which generally involves introducing myself as /ema/ rather than /ɪma/ and pronouncing ‘r’s that don’t exist in New Zealand.

The final week was somewhat of a struggle, and for reasons I don’t really wish to divulge, I ended up handing in my last two assignments a few days late. My final lesson got trash-talked by the tutor, but other than that, I’m pretty much happy with how it went. I think if they were assessing me on everything up until day 18 (the course was 24 days), I’d have gotten a really good grade, but I think now I’ll have to settle with just a pass. It was a really useful course and I’m sure my teaching has improved and will continue to.  After my final class, we had a bit of a party with the students – everyone from the upper-intermediate class was there except for Merce, and from the pre-intermediates Mari Carmen and Maria Jose also showed up! It was nice to get to talk to them on a personal level and share some jokes.

I ended up doing my final lesson on the song Moonshadow, even though my tutor didn’t think it was a good idea. I didn’t have to time to find a new one and write a decent lesson plan and design new tasks for it. I made the song work in class, and I think the students engaged with it, but my tutor didn’t like it right from the start. Don’t get me wrong, she had valid reasons for not thinking it was appropriate for the level I was teaching, but I do think she closed her mind to it a little too early on (i.e. before the class even started).

I finished the last assignment this morning – it took me all of an hour – and handed everything in this morning at 11am. Kate, Simon, Penny and I retired to the Porxada square for drinks in the sun. Steve came out to join us, and so did Penny’s sister Anastasia. It was a super hot and sunny day, but not yukky sticky hot like Korea was. It was really just lovely. Kate, Simon and I went for lunch afterwards – Menu del dia – and were thoroughly confused by the menus until we realised they were in Catalan, not Spanish! The meal wasn’t great but the company was and it was nice to spend some time with my co-trainees with no stress hanging over us.

I got home full of determination to catch up on everything I’ve avoided in the last week – cleaning, cooking, washing, blogging, emailing, exercising, writing – and promptly fell asleep in the sun. Happyface.

Final comments on CELTA: it’s definitely worthwhile, but I recommend choosing the five week option (like the one I did) if you can’t find a part-time course. I don’t know how anyone gets it done in only four weeks. And yes, it’s overpriced, but I’ve resigned myself to overpriced education. It’s an unhappy fact of life. I receive my report within a week, and my certificate in a couple of months.

In other news, I’m not going to be teaching English at summer camps in England this summer as I thought I would be. I got a much better job offer, from Pax Lodge in London. Pax Lodge is one of the four World Centers of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), and I will be taking the position of Guest Services Co-ordinator. It’s a six month live-in position, and anyone who knows me will be aware that I’ve been a part of the Girl Guides movement since I was a seven-year-old Brownie in 1992, and I love it. I’m so happy to have the opportunity to work for an organisation I care about that’s doing good things in the world. It means my teaching career is on hold, but for now, this is the better option.

Speaking of good things, tomorrow (5 June) is World Environment Day. I only just discovered this so I’m not yet sure what action I will take. I’ll probably do something really simple like walk around the neighbourhood picking up rubbish.  A friend I met in Korea (Cliff) started a facebook group called Month Without Plastic in response to the oil spill catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico (as if we didn’t have reason to dislike BP before). It’s going to be insanely difficult, but I’m willing to face up to the challenge. I dare you to try, too. Try even living a normal day without buying any new plastic. A week, even. Do the full month. I don’t claim the idea doesn’t have flaws, but I think, at least on a personal level, it will be an interesting experiment and we will all learn a lot about how big a part of our lives plastic plays.

I intend to blog about my attempts to not buy any new plastic from the 17th of June until the 17th of July. Keep an eye out. I’ll also be providing links so you can find out more information, and trying to settle into a new job at the same time (I start in late June), so check back.

Tomorrow I’m gonna do all that cookingcleaningwashing etc stuff, then get writing some more.


Categories: Guiding, Learning, Saving the World, Teaching | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments


Trying to figure out how to use blogroll. I added it to my widgets but it just shows up a bunch of wordpress links that I don’t actually care about. I can’t seem to find anywhere to enter the urls of the blogs I actually want on there.

Anyone care to help out?


P.S. I should be asleep. And I saw one billion thistlefairies today.

Categories: Learning, Technology | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

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