Category Archives: Education


I haven’t been around blog world for about a month now, and I’ve missed you all. I was busy finishing off my last two essays and dissertation, and so had to stay right away from blog posts to avoid distraction. Yesterday I handed it all in and I’m finished, hurrah!!! It was definitely a challenge doing it in one year rather than the three years that was the more usual option, but I’m so pleased that I chose that route because now I’m finished, hurrah!!! (Did I say that already?).

In the year of my course I wrote six 4,000 word essays and one 18,000 word dissertation, obviously it’s all the reading and research around each one that takes the most time. With each essay, and the dissertation, I seemed to go through the same kind of anxiety pattern, and I decided to turn that into a chart for your entertainment (To read it, you’ll probably have to click on it to open it up bigger, unless you’re on a phone or other small device in which case you’re going to struggle to read it whatever, and therefore I wouldn’t bother trying, just accept that you would have really liked it if you’d been able to read it, so just smile and nod).

Essay anxiety chart

What’s been happening in blog world then? I clearly won’t be able to catch up on all the posts I missed, but I will gradually make my rounds and visit my regulars. In the meantime, if there are any posts you wrote (or saw) in the last month that you really think I should read, then by all means pop a link to them in the comments and I shall endeavour to visit soon.

Hope everyone is well, and I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of things around here again now!



Disconnected Reflections As I Enter The Home Straight

Equality does not mean justice

This picture is a good representation of some of the issues I’ve looked at. There are so many versions of it online I don’t know where it originated in order to credit properly

We’ll be back to some funny stuff around here soon, but not yet. I’m nearing the end of my Masters Degree, and over the year that I’ve been working on it, I’ve kept note of little facts and quotes that I’ve found interesting, or things that I’ve learned which I wanted to remember because they’ll be useful in other contexts. There are far too many to share in one post, so I’ve selected a few…

I’ve learned that:

– If I reach the point where I feel blocked in my writing, whether from writing exhaustion, or lack of inspiration, and I’m just staring at a blank screen, I can break through that block by simply changing something physical about what I’m doing. This usually means either picking up my laptop and moving to a different room, or switching to writing a few paragraphs in longhand on paper instead (yes, I still have to type it up later, but it’s worth it just to break through the block). I can’t fully express quite how incredibly effective this method is for me. Previously I would have either taken a break, or switched to a different task, but this way I can carry right on with what I’m doing which is sometimes what needs to be done.

– Goal setting doesn’t work for me. I always knew this really but because it’s repeatedly put forward as the best way to achieve things, I kept doing it, and kept feeling like a failure when I didn’t achieve my goals. During my course I read an article by Joanna Swann who is fiercely opposed to the practice of goal and target setting; she speaks particularly about the field of education, but what she says can be applied wider. In short, she puts forward an alternative method of achieving what needs to be achieved, by articulating it as a series of problems that need to be resolved rather than goals or targets that need to be met. Clearly everybody is different, but what she said really resonated with me and it’s worked when I’ve put it into practice. (I have already mentioned this to a few other bloggers individually).

– When I’ve completed a writing session, it’s worth spending a couple of minutes jotting down where I had got to in my thought process and what I was planning to write about next. It makes it much easier to get right back into it next time. It’s so easy to forget where we were in our thought process if we leave it, even for a day.


A picture from one of my study days at home – not too shabby right?

A couple of quotes I liked:

– “We become conscious of many of our expectations only when they are disappointed, owing to their being unfulfilled. An example would be encountering an unexpected step in one’s path: it is the unexpectedness of the step which may make us conscious of the fact that we expected to encounter an even surface.” (Karl Popper)

– “He who loses his crown and lives without it is more than a king: from the rank of a king he rises to the rank of a man.” (Jean-Jack Rousseau)

A couple of things that came up which made me think:

– The Chinese (as I understand it) believe that the differences in educational achievement between students are attributed primarily to the different rates at which people learn, and not to different ceilings that people are capable of reaching. Whilst I don’t wholly embrace that view, I do think it’s worth considering in part, especially when we talk about helping children to “reach their full potential” which is a term that I’ve always been a bit uncomfortable with, because I find it actually quite limiting.

– If a teacher said that they had a child of 14 years old in their class who couldn’t read or write very well, or couldn’t add up simple numbers, we would probably describe that child as having special educational needs (or in the UK we would, other countries have other terms of course). Whereas if a teacher said they had a child of 14 years old on their class who wasn’t very good at composing music, or remembering dates in history, we wouldn’t attribute that to special needs, we’d just say that different people are good at different things.  So some subjects are deemed to be the deciders of whether people have something wrong with them or not. There are reasons behind that of course, but it’s still worth a little ponder before we make those judgments.

Studying with the cat

Another study day, with help from the cat

Right, better get back to those essays now…

A Small Favour (with a ‘u’) To Ask…

Dolls in school

I need some help with sharing a link, via Twitter, or whatever means you would like. It’s part of the research that I’m doing for my dissertation. I’m looking at how mentoring is used with students in schools, particularly students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

I’ve set up a survey which is for staff in any schools in England (secondary school age) to fill in. Even if you’re not based in England yourself, you probably have followers on your social media platforms who are, so the more people who can share the link, the more potential survey-completers I will find!

This is the link to the survey:

I’ve prepared a couple of versions of a tweet that you can simply copy and paste (you’re welcome), or feel free to share the link to the survey in any other way you would like. I would be SOOOOOO grateful.


Do you work in a secondary school in England? Do you have 10 mins to fill in a survey? @VanessaJ2011

If you work in a secondary school in England, please consider filling in this survey, thank you! @VanessaJ2011

The survey will be open for two weeks initially, but I may extend if I need to.

Apologies that I haven’t been as active in reading and commenting on your blogs lately, I’ve been busy with my studies, some of you have been lucky enough to receive a visit from me, ha! But it’s all been a bit random. Normal service will resume in September.

Thanks in advance of your help!

photo credit: – Annetta – via photopin cc

If there are periods of time when I’m not around for periods of time…

Girl sleeping in woods with alarm clock

…it’s because I’m doing a Masters this year, in Education. I’m doing it in one year, which counts as full-time, rather than the alternative of three years part-time. I’m not giving up my job or anything else though, so I’m attempting to fit in a full-time course around my already full-capacity life! Brave? Crazy? We’ll find out. I don’t intend to stop blogging or visiting/commenting on other blogs, but I will clearly have to cut back. So if there are times when I disappear for a bit, don’t panic, I’ll just be writing an essay, or questioning my sanity, or something, and will be back soon enough (Phew, right?). I’ll probably be looking something like this:

Woman losing it

It’s also my birthday today, 43. This time last year I was announcing that I was now the answer to life, the universe and everything. However, the great wisdom that comes with that has thus far eluded me; I’m hoping the MA will help.

This is what the lovely cafeteria lady at work gave me this morning, what a sweetie she is:

Birthday scone

Hope your Septembers are going well so far!
Girl in woods photo credit: martinak15 via photopin cc
Losing it woman photo credit: Locator via photopin cc

Why I’m not going to buy any plastic next week

Next week is Zero Plastic week, from June 10-16, did you know that? The challenge is to not buy any new plastic for a whole week. You can use existing plastic that you already have, you just can’t buy new plastic. Sounds easy? It might be harder than you think.

But first, why I’m joining in. I could write a whole blog post about the evils of plastic, but instead I’ve just picked one thing to show you. A few months back, I saw this video and was really upset by it. If you’ve never seen it, please watch it, it’s 3mins 55secs long…

It’s pretty hard to watch that video and not feel like you personally want to do something about it. So when I heard about Zero Plastic week, that video was one of the reasons I decided to take up the challenge.

Even if you don’t want to join in yourself, you can at least do this – the next time you go to the supermarket, just have a look around and ask yourself how many things could you actually buy there if you were avoiding plastic.

I’ve deliberately not stocked up on things before the week starts, so that I can fully embrace the challenge. I’ve been thinking through what I’ll be able to buy…

– Milk could be tricky, it generally comes in plastic containers. Even the Tetra Packs have thin layers of plastic in them. It is still possible to find milk in glass bottles, but probably not from the supermarket. When the milk I have runs out, I may have to resort to the tub of powdered milk that is lurking in the back of my cupboard (yuck!), or just manage without for the rest of the week.

– Fresh meat, fish and cheese can be a problem. The ready packaged versions are in plastic, and even if you go to the counter, they wrap it in plastic. Maybe I could take my own containers along and ask them to put it in them instead?

– Fruit and vegetables are easy enough. There are plenty of loose options, and again, I’d need to bring my own bags to put it in rather than the ones they provide. Or I could visit street markets, or small greengrocers shops which still use paper bags.

– Canned goods are ok, but I wouldn’t want the majority of my food to come out of a can, so canned goods will just be a small contribution to the week.

– Things that come in glass jars are mostly out because they tend to have plastic lids. Even the metal lids have a plastic coating inside.

– A lot of frozen goods have cardboard packages on the outside, but they usually have plastic film inside.

– Supermarket bread is usually in plastic, but they do generally have loose loaves too, or I can go to bakeries that put them in paper bags. Or I can bake my own.

– We eat quite a bit of pasta. The only way I can think of that I’ll be able to buy pasta this week is if I find a shop that sells bulk food in bins that you scoop from, then I could bring my own bags to put it in. Places like that do that exist, but they’re pretty rare.

– On the plus side, flour, sugar, butter and eggs can all be easily bought in non-plastic packaging, so I can make cake. I can also buy wine (as long as it has a real cork in it and not a plastic cork, nor a metal screw top because they are usually lined with plastic). So I could live on cake and wine all week! Hmm, maybe not, especially considering I have children to feed too. But I do think eggs might feature in our meals quite a bit this week.

– Cleaning products and toiletries are a real challenge, but there are solutions, they just need a bit of research and thinking. But seriously, what will I do if I run out of toilet tissue?! Apparently you can buy a box of toilet tissue rolls without plastic packaging from Amazon, but I’ve probably left it too late now for next week.

One thing I must definitely remember is to take bags with me when I go shopping, otherwise I might have a problem actually taking the food I buy away with me.

It’s just one week, but I think the idea is to make us realise how much plastic we buy, and to think about ways we could cut back on our use, even after the week is done. There’s a lady in California called Beth Terry who has been attempting to live without buying any new plastic since 2007, her website has loads of information about how she does that, it’s really worth a look –

Would you be up for a challenge like this?