Thursday 30 May 2019


The Institute is in a state of Limbo: the last exams have been sat, marked and entered into the system but the meetings where we determine overall grades aren't until the beginning of June.  I went into work yesterday because it was too drizzly to mow grass or chop wood anbd I had a bit of paperwork to do. I was talking to a colleague about learning outcomes and the transition between school and college. We both left home and went to college and assumed that our progress in the new place would be largely up to us. Neither of us expected our parents to bale us out (except maybe literally, if we found ourselves being arrested).  We agreed (predictable pair of ould codgers really) that the young of today were rather less able to cut the apron strings; but agreed that "I blame the parents" was at least parrtly to blame.

Suddenly I found myself blurting out an, often thought, so far unspoken grope about taking attendance for every class. "What are we doing asking voting-age adults to sign a register to say that they have been in each lecture or lab session?"   "Quite apart from it being disrespectful," I continued, "it offers a sub-text that the quality of the teaching and the engagement of the teachers is so appalling that we must compell people to attend."  What I was trying to say was that if my delivery was really exciting; the material delivered on the button and my personality charismatic, then I'd have to keep students away with a chair and a whip. Apart from learning the difference between pH and PhD, college should teach people the management about work/life balance; deadlines; punctuality; clear thinking and cogent presentation of ideas both orally and in writing.

IF Mum has told you to get up in the morning to go to school and made you a packed lunch and put cereal and milk on the breakfast table and popped <rubber gloves!> yesterday's soccer strip in the washer . . . for the last 14 years THEN you may find a college unnerving and exhausting. We weren't all von Trapp family about whistling bringing up Dau.I and Dau.II - sailor suits were not required. But we didn't let them grow up with their little beaks perpetually agape waiting to be fed. If they wanted cakes and biscuits rather than hard-tack, then they had to make them and soon learned how to half, or more usually double, a recipe. And as you see [R] they also learned how to wash up after their kitchen escapades, before they were quite tall enough to reach the kitchen sink. Domestic self-sufficiency spread natuarlly into out-door chores. If they wanted cakes then eggs needed to be guddled from the hen-coop. If they didn't want dead laying hens then they had to remember to shut the coop and night and clean out the chicken-shit occasionally. All that meant they were able to leave home shortly before they turned 18 - able to sew on a button, cook an omelette, sharpen a knife, and manage a limited budget. When Dau.I left home to attend Waldorf-Steiner College in England, she was there are 0900hrs every day because there was new stuff to learn. Almost all her fellow students treated the whole experience as a bit of a jape and devoted at least as much time to booze and weed as they did to classes.

I was rather tickled by a 10 minute mini-doc from ITV in which small children navigate their way unsupervised across London under the covert but watchful eye of Dr Xand [prev] and a lot of cameras. If Mum has always held your hand every time to get on or off a bus then you're less likely to be able to find room C313 for your first chemistry practical at college.

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