Thursday, October 25, 2007

PGCE Day 39 - A brief foray into Assignment evasion

Wow! Is it really almost a month since my last hurried posting? Well, I haven't had a minute. That's probably not strictly true. I've just been messing about really, but I have felt duty bound to mess around only with stuff to do with the course. You know the sort of thing - check my college e-mail, check the date my library books are due back, check the college network to make sure nobody has posted any PowerPoints without telling me, check the course handbook to make sure I haven't missed anything, check the requirements for the serial attachment to see if I understand them any more clearly than the last time I checked them. But to be honest, not a vast amount of real work. I am off on reading week now, working on the 1st assignment. Or, more to the point, I'm doing anything I can to avoid working. It's not that I don't want to work, but I'm just not really sure where to start. You see, the problem is that they have re-jigged PGCE now. We have to write our essays at Masters level and I'm not really sure how to do that. You see, I've spent a lifetime training myself to listen to others' points of view. I read an article and in my head I'm muttering, "Good point, I've never thought of it like that before, I can see where you're coming from...". Now I'm told I have to question everything - who wrote it? What's his/her slant? Why did they write it? What can I read into the language they use? When was it written? Did publication coincide with a full moon? Fine if you are reading one boring little article ('cos let's face it, virtually all academic writing is mind-numbing) but they are asking for about a dozen sources. Chance!! I have trouble with all of this not least because I really just want to be a teacher. But apparently this will make me a more reflective teaching professional, up to date with current theory and well-versed with how it relates to practice. Hmmm...

So far I've really enjoyed myself. I've met a lot of really nice people and I like my tutors. I'm enjoying it so much more than my Secondary PGCE experience a while back. Initial suspicions and fears have been allayed. I've been sucked into Facebook, simply because I didn't want to be cut out of any loop. I'm still not 100% sure what the point of it is, though. My school is lovely and the class teacher and children are great. I'm going to be spending a full four weeks with them in a couple of weeks' time so I am a bit nervous about that.

My personal life hasn't been fully suspended in all of this frenetic activity. A few weeks back we had a big extended family weekend away in a centre just outside Lancaster. It was mad but great to catch up with everyone. And the weather was superb - it almost made up for the derisory summer we had.

Earlier this week we took advantage of non-contact college time to slip off to Tours to visit my eldest who is studying there at the moment. It is a lovely city and well worth paying a visit if you get the opportunity. We decided to take a direct flight from Stansted to save any Paris Metro-related stress. You know, it's amazing, we ordered flight tickets from Ryanair. The outward flights were £15 and the return flights were 1p. For 3 of us that is just a smidgin over £45. But by the time we'd paid the supplements for the little incidentals like foot space, oxygen, etc., it was just short of £200! Look Ryanair, if you had offered me return flights at about £70 per throw, I would have still booked - it's still a good deal. But to show a miniscule price but load it with hidden extras - well, I think that is a con.

We booked into a Travel Lodge near to Stansted. The room was filthy. I don't think they'd actually cleaned it. There was 'debris' in the bed, on the carpet, greasy marks on the mirror and the bathroom - the loo had somebody's recent calling card and the bowl under the water line looked as if it hadn't seen any loobrush/bleach action in weeks! There was some building work going on and two storey portakabins so I suspect it might have been used as a workers' digs. So that was a nice little job for the duty receptionist! By contrast, the hotel in Tours was lovely. We had a family room up on the 4th floor. The double bed was in a reasonably sized room and there were two single beds underneath the sloping roof on a corridor bit alongside the main room. It was like something from Heidi. The funny thing was that the Hotel Harmonie had a musical theme and the rooms had names, not numbers. Guess what our room was called? 'Do'. Any resemblence we may have to the Simpsons is purely coincidental.

The first night we ate pizza - yeah, I know it's not terribly French. But His Lordship and I went for the one with the local sausage on. Of course, we were assuming it was a bit like pepperoni or salami. After all, we had avoided the real nasties like snails and you have to take a bit of a risk. The local sausage is andouillette. Why did no-one warn me? It was filled with what looked like what I would expect sections of tapeworm to look like. I don't 'do' anything from an animal that looks tuby and rubbery. I tried not to smell anything and attempted some of the less rubbery contents. I felt let off when His Lordship declared that he couldn't eat any of it or he'd be sick. With that I moved all the andouillette off the pizza and to the edge of my plate and ate what was left of the pizza, all the time trying not to smell the pungent aroma which was emanating from my plate. According to that fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia, it is made from, amongst other things, pig colon. That explains the smell, then.

Another thing worth a mention is Tours Inernational Airport. It is amazing. It's so small, there is only one carousel for baggage reclaim and it is about a third or a quarter of the size of those in larger airports. It was like role play corner in primary school. I think the daily Ryanair flight to/from Stansted is the only one they have. Being small, they are sharp on security. After we had checked in our luggage, His Lordship was called on the tannoy. They did a security check of his suitcase (they do it about every few suitcases). The man put his hand in the suitcase and went "aagh" and then said "just ma leetle joke - I do eet avry tam". Surreal! That's all you need, a French airport security guard with a warped sense of humour. Still, apparently it broke the tension.

Ah well, back to learning theory.