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Saturday, 16 May 2009

A question of choice

Today is the eighth day in a row that I have worked, and God I am cream crackered. I have another five days to go until I get a day off, and half of that will be spent getting the village newsletter sorted out, the copy deadline for which was yesterday. Although I am enjoying the job, I will be glad in some ways when the exam season is over and things can get back to some semblance of normality. It is a nice contrast for me though to spend the week days working with young people and the weekends with older folk. It was nice today to have a chat and a catch up with some of the residents, now that we are getting to know each other. This is my third weekend at the nursing home already and they seem to be pleased with me.

I have invigilated various different exams this week and clocked up just over 28 hours. Monday was the busiest day when I did not get out until 5.45pm, but most of the time I have been finished by around 3.30 - 3.45 which isn't too bad. Although the Government has abolished SATS, this particular school has decided to continue with their own version, so a lot of the exams this week have been with the younger children (years 8 and 9 - 12, and 13 year olds respectively) before the bulk of the GCSE's and A'Levels start next week. Most of them have been very well behaved, but there are always one or two that you need to keep your eye on.

I did one exam the other day with five special needs children, all of whom had readers to help them read the questions. This particular boy, who I guess was around 12 years old, finished his early, and so his reader asked if it was okay if she gave him some paper to scribble on, as I was not allowed to release him. I said that was fine as long as he did not disturb the other kids, and he promptly used the paper to make some aeroplanes! Fortunately he did not try and fly them around the room ... In situations like this, there is not a lot you can really do, as the reason why those kids are kept separate from their peers, who were all in the main assembly hall, is because of their behaviour. I suspect that this particular one may have had ADHD or something similar.

I was impressed on Thursday though when we had an English exam for year 9 (13 year olds) and had the chance to read the material that the children had to comment on. I was so impressed in fact that I asked I could bring a copy home to write some comments about it on this blog. Needless to say that was fine, or I would not be sitting here typing right now.

The reading booklet is entitled "A Question of Choice" and contains three different articles that the children were asked to comment on. The first of these was an article from The Independent (4th March 2004) by Harriet Griffey entitled "More is Less". This is an article about the huge amount of different products that there are now available for us to choose from and how this leads to people becoming so overwhelmed that they cannot make decisions. This was and is interesting enough, but the final paragraph is the one that really aroused my interest, for it asks the question that if all this choice is causing us stress, what can we do about it? The answer is to stop worrying about the everyday choices and save our decision making for the serious things that really merit our time and effort. It goes on to say that we need to live in the moment, appreciate what we have and not think about all the other things that we could choose instead. Hallelujah to that. If this is what they are teaching our teenagers, then I am impressed.

It gets better than that though, since the second article was about the benefits of Fair Trade. So first we have an article telling teenagers to appreciate what they have and to live in the present, and then we have another article asking them to think outside of themselves and buy fair trade goods that will benefit the growers. When I read things like this, then I realise that there is hope for the world after all.

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