I went on a holiday to Center Parcs once. Actually, I have been several times, and mostly out of season (which is how I have managed to go several times); when my children were little it was my absolute favourite place. Everything there is geared up to young families, from the serried ranks of highchairs to the little nursery where you can park the little ones and get some time to yourself. I was sad when they all went to school and so did I, and the whole thing became too expensive.
I remember going when I was expecting L. We had been out for the evening and, as it was raining, we decided to catch the ‘land train’ (a couple of carriages hitched up to a Land Rover) back to our place of abode. It was dark and cold, the orange lights gleamed wetly on the roadway and I, in an attempt to prevent A from running off and into the road and being run down by oncoming traffic, began to sing.
Now, I don’t want you to think that I am the kind of person who regularly breaks into song at any opportunity, but at the time, rather than teaching in a classroom in a school, I was running my own mother and toddler music group. I had a large repertoire of songs (with signs and actions) at my disposal, and my two little boys loved it.
It didn’t take long before A had climbed up on my knee and was joining in with the incy wincies and wind the bobbins. It didn’t take long before I had a gaggle of tired toddlers circling around me, shyly joining in or watching with tired round eyes. It wasn’t long before R, who had been on Sam duty, caught my eye and smiled the secret smile that steals over people when they catch someone in their element.
As teachers we aren’t often in the position of watching another adult get all over-enthusiastic about their subject. I watched one at a local teachmeet back in October and I thought how much I would have loved being in her class, and how lucky her children were as she waxed lyrical about Shakespeare (or whatever it was she was telling us about). I love it when R has been booked to do a talk and he practices on us to see if we understand the intricacies of blasting a lemon into space, and I saw it again last week when I poked my nose in to @Jack_Marwood’s talk on data at the Wellington Festival of Education.
Now, I haven’t got the remotest interest in data, not really, not the numbers sort. All those means and modes baffle me no end, and my usual response, when I see them applied to children is to screech in an emotionally-driven manner, ‘You can’t reduce a child to a letter or a number!’ and that’s about it.
But Jack, now he knows what he’s talking about. Maths and Statistics are his specialism, and it was a joy to watch someone, someone full of fizzy enthusiasm, hold a packed room enthralled while he explained fuzzy numbers and why school data, the sort that is presented to Ofsted and appears in league tables, is a nonsense.
I was sorry I had to leave before I could say goodbye and thank him properly.