Blogging for Education

Monthly Archives: May 2015


Sometimes, I find myself needing a little more motivation, as a person, a mother and as a teacher.

Often, I look to those little, but very wise, inspirational or thoughtful quotes, and they strike a chord, and I carry on.

Today, I have felt even more driven by the need to inspire in our students the desire and passion for learning. Sometimes, we need to sit back and think, or rethink, what we teach our children, but, more importantly, the way we teach our children.

So, here are a few of those little quotes that I stumbled upon today, and that I hope will keep afire the flame that should burn inside all us teachers.

Here they are:

Chinese Proverb  

Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.

Eliphas Levi:

A good teacher must be able to put himself in the place of those who find learning hard.

Albert Einstein:

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus                                              character – that is the goal of true education.

Have a great and inspirational day 🙂


‘Maths exams are too hard and must be rewritten,’ regulator says.

(Artimaths-exam-PAcle from The Independent, 21 May 2015)

I was quite surprised this week to read an article in the education section of a couple of leading UK newspapers stating that OFQUAL (the education watchdog) has called for new GCSE Maths exam papers to be rewritten because they are ‘too hard’.

My reading of this article coincides with the completion of a book I have been reading recently called “How Children Succeed” by Paul Tough. In his book, Tough highlights several anecdotes or studies of children, mainly from poorer areas, who have succeeded regardless of all the odds which were stacked against them. The reason for their success? Passion, self-belief, grit.

In my other readings recently, about the PISA successes of Asian countries such as Singapore and South Korea, I’ve found that the resilience of children is almost taken for granted – children are capable of more than we think. And children are pushed to limits higher than we would even dream of in the UK – because there is an expectation that chidren can do it.

So, this beggars the question: Why do we (in the UK, for example) not believe that our children can do this? Why do we not give them a chance, an opportunity to grow and prove themselves? Why do we set the bar so low, and change the exams to make them easier?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we should exclude children and make them feel they are not worthy, because they find it hard to perform at the higher standards. I’ve been particularly intrigued by the Finnish education system, where teachers go out of their way to help kids feel included – and these kids flourish at the higher standards, too.

Instil in students the passion, self-belief and grit to succeed, and surely we can get our kids to do these hard exams too….?

Our children are capable of far more than we think. Let’s give them a chance!

A while ago, I saw this animated video of a speech given by Sir Ken Robinson on how ‘Schools Kill Creativity’.

Looking at it again, I realise once more how many amazing and insightful things this genius educator has to say about our education systems.

In this video, he tells us how we are getting our kids through education by anaesthetising them into boredom, and he calls for action to ‘wake them up’. He ponders upon the problem of how standardised testing has in fact killed creativity in our kids, and how, as educators, we should actually be ‘going in the opposite direction’.

I am constantly inspired by Sir Ken’s talks. So, I’d like to share this one here, for us all to learn from and enjoy.

How Poetry Helps Autistic Children Learn – Article  (Click to read this article)

As a follower of the brilliant Sir Ken Robinson’s Facebook page, I recently read an article he shared on how poetry is being used in one particular classroom to inspire autistic children to learn.

Although I don’t have an autistic child myself, I have been touched quite personally recently by the case of a friend of mine whose child has recently been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.

So, I found this article quite interesting.

Perhaps others might be inspired….? Deserves some more research I think.

Thanks, Sir Ken, for sharing this on FB!

Admittedly, it’s been a year (2014) since this article was published in the Times Educational Supplement’s online source (, but since it’s now the season of Common Entrance exams (June 1 – 4), I was interested to unearth this today.

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 10.27.36The then Education Secretary, Michael Gove, states in this article: “All pupils should sit Common Entrance exams used to select children for private school” that “introducing more tests in state schools will help monitor pupil performance between assessments already taken at the end of primary school and GCSEs”, a time when performance tends to slip and suffer.

He goes on to suggest that the Common Entrance exam could be used by state schools to help keep pupils on track.

Likening the gap between state and independent school education to the ‘Berlin Wall’, Gove also suggests that state schools should consider taking the PISA test (see my previous blog post on the PISA test) to improve standards.

The article concludes by saying that state school pupils invariably perform just as well as their independent school peers when given the same privileges and advantages.

My personal opinion on this? As an educator myself, I have seen the benefits children gain from the rigorous training of the Common Entrance exam. The curriculum is interesting and varied. But it does tie in very closely with the current National Curriculum delivered in state schools. I wonder though, from the research I have done, whether yet another batch of tests would be of that much benefit…..?

Surely, it’s neither the curriculum nor the tests which are of such crucial importance, but rather the delivery of the material and the engagement and motivation of the students concerned.

I applaud the desire to improve our kids’ education. I’m just not so convinced we’re looking in the right direction.

I quite like the look of the Prep School Baccalaureate right now – a much more rounded approach to nurturing our children’s futures.

Insightful piece, this time from the Times Educational Supplement, which conveys the views of celebrated children’s writer, Michael Morpurgo, on testing in our schools.

“When you test children, whether you like it or not you create successes and failures”

“…the greatest danger you can put children in is making them feel they are not worthwhile.”

Well worth a read…..