Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Miscellaneous drivel...

Well the official notification from GTTR (the Graduate Teacher Training Registry) finally arrived on Monday. It has taken me until today to finally log on to track my application's progress. Last year I was checking every 5 minutes. Let's wait and see what happens. I'm a bit nervous since I have applied for Primary Education with a Spanish specialism and I think they get a native speaker to phone you up and speak to you in Spanish before inviting you to interview. My Spanish was never exactly brilliant but I would be hard pressed to hold a conversation in the present tense these days! Would you believe that they didn't do any such thing when I applied to do Secondary! So presumably it is OK to not be able to speak the lingo if you are hoping to teach it to A Level students but not if you are looking to teach little tots in Year 6! Of course, as I always say, you just sneeze and find yourself on a secondary PGCE course. I think these primary courses with a language are funded partly by European Union money so you have to do a month long placement in Spain and 'buddy' up with a Spanish trainee. I must admit, I don't relish the prospect of leaving the family behind for a month but if that is what's needed I'll just have to bite the bullet. Anyway, there's a long way to go before then.

At work, I am currently supervising the kids who are doing mock speaking exams as they prepare their role play. Several days of being cooped up in a small room with two lads (a different two every 10 minutes) and issuing instructions which are getting more like the air cabin crew safety instructions by the hour. There is the odd thing to break the monotony - such as the delightful little blighter who left his calling card in the room when he went off to his exam. It was the smell of pure fear, I think! What is it about teenage boys? Do they all have defective flatulence retention reflexes? And what on earth do they eat?

I've got this 'thing' on at church tomorrow. It's a poetry evening. People come along and read their own poems or their favourites and we try to get some musicians to do a little musical interlude now and again. I've done a little PowerPoint to some music and I am a bit anxious about it. PowerPoint never seems to run the same on different machines. They all run at different speeds and synchronising the words and pictures is a nightmare. I think I've sorted that now but we've only just acquired a projector. I don't know how to sort out the audio side of things so I am hoping someone will be able to link the thing up to an amplifier. I will have to take advice. Anyway, I've been out to buy the wine so the key is to get everyone at least mellow so that they won't even notice! (Is that ethical, in a church?)

Of course this Thursday is a lousy night for me to have to be involved in something like this. Given a choice I would have preferred Wednesday of next week. I will have to dash home at the end and sort out a bag of clothes. I am off to Newcastle straight from work on Friday to see my baby girl up in Newcastle. We're gonna have a girly weekend together. So that's something to look forward to.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Divine Guidance needed...

A few years back I started a teacher training course. I just didn't feel at all comfortable with it and left. I was trying to teach French to teenagers, most of whom didn't have the slightest interest in learning it. The PGCE consists of hoop-jumping to the nth degree. Every lesson has to be planned to the minute with cross references to the many parts of the National Curriculum which have been addressed. Other boxes to be ticked include 'Spiritual, moral and cultural', 'Health & Safety', ICT amongst other things. Resources have to be created (these days a little worksheet doesn't seem to cut the mustard - it has to be at least PowerPoint but preferably something for the interactive whiteboard). But these have to have something to challenge, inspire and produce progress from everybody from Homer Simpson to Albert Einstein and everyone in between irrespective of their Aspergers, ADHD, Emotional and Behavioural problems or plain old disaffectedness. Or ordinariness, for that matter. Afterwards, for every lesson, you have to apply liberal amounts of sack cloth and ashes and get a big stick to beat yourself with. This is better known as the lesson evaluation. One night, gazing into the abyss and seeing what the rest of my life could consist of, I decided to throw in the towel.

Having now spent a few years in education in an administrative support role ('Remodelling the Workforce') I have had a chance to see at close quarters what teaching consists of and to get to grips with educational jargon. It is no longer alien to me. I have also seen that the Government's much vaunted 'career paths' for support staff in schools are not going to materialise - that would require money. I figured I was ready to have another go at the massive box ticking exercise that is teacher training. So, I decided to apply for a Primary PGCE place. In spite of many years of experience as a mum/helper with primary age children in a school setting (though my work experience is in a secondary setting) I was knocked back on not having enough up to date experience. It seems that in spite of claiming to encourage 'mature' adults to become teachers, they first have to renounce their right to a full-time, wage-earning job to do so (and, by extension, pension rights - a big ask if you want my opinion!). I am lucky in that my Headteacher was incredibly supportive and was at the time allowing me to take time out to spend time in local primaries. But as my experience was not there at the time of filling in the form, the teacher training college (they call themselves a university these days, but personally I'm not so sure!) didn't take it into consideration.

I had happily forgotten about it all until last week when the college sent me the feedback form from my last application. I already knew the reasons but this letter just unsettled me. I had decided to leave it alone. I don't know whether this is what God wants for me and no amount of prayer and asking the question seems to produce the answers I need. I have decided I will apply but if I get the knockback again, I know it is not meant for me.

Watch this space.


Saturday, September 02, 2006

Desperately seeking me...

Just returned from Greenbelt and utterly inspired but not entirely sure what to do with all that inspiration. I wish I could know who I am. I don't seem to fit into any neat category. I'm really interested in all of the alternative worship stuff that is happening at the moment. The really interesting thing is that we in the Catholic church have always done the art and symbolism stuff but it is being rediscovered by the new movements who have their roots in the Protestant tradition (I'm sure they must be ostracised by the hardliners). Perhaps we can pick up on some of this to give our worship a new twist. Purely by chance I discovered a great blog by a guy called Jonny Baker who is involved with Grace (who were at Greenbelt), an emerging church in London. Also turns out he is heavily involved with the worship at Greenbelt. Also turns out he is married to one Jenny Baker who gave a talk on prayer at Spring Harvest when I was there a few years back (2002, I think). It was a double header with Pete Greig of 24-7 Prayer.

Sadly, though, being a Catholic does not give you much opporunity to use all this stuff. We just don't have that flexibility to muck about with the liturgy. Plus, we have to be careful of the 'thought police', that particular brand of sad wierdo who actually believes that God is interested in phariseeic (is that a word?) 'i' dotting and 't' crossing - and if they don't get any joy from God they will think nothing of escalating the matter to the Bishop or even the Holy Father himself! Surely it was for individuals such as these that the phrase 'Get a life!' was coined!

I'm thinking of approaching people in some of the other churches locally to see if we could do some non-denominational worship services which could incorporate some of this stuff. If only God will let me have an extra few hours in a day! I get what little energy that I have from my interactions with Christians from many different traditions. If I were to isolate myself in a Catholic bubble I would dry up spiritually. Keeping the lines of communication up with friends in other churches is my way of living out Christ's call to unity. I'm too dumb to understand the finer points of theology, but I do know that when we all work together, the vibe is great.

God Bless.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Just checkin' in...

Yeah, OK, so two thousand years later we actually bother to write something else. And it is a gripe.

What is it about all my mates in the other churches, that they decide to do something, anything, and it is all hands on deck, everyone buzzing round in a frenetic whirl of activity to get things done? They actually achieve things from time to time. It's like that idyllic scene in that Harrison Ford film, "Witness" when all the Amish people are working together in perfect harmony building the church. I have never experienced anything like that in the Catholic world. There is a handful of enthusiastic but overworked individuals trying to motivate everyone else but it is really like pulling teeth. And they seem to resent anyone but the privileged few trying to get anything off the ground. I reckon, per capita, that the Catholic population is the most lacklustre faith group in the world. At least today I do...


Saturday, April 22, 2006

In the beginning...


I don't really know what to write here but I've no doubt that it will come to me in time. There are enough incidents/amusements/frustrations about being a Roman Catholic to keep me rolling along in posts 'til the second coming. Just look on this as a study to see how blogger works.