Everyone’s awesome… so everyone’s inadequate

I spent my afternoon at a SACE clarifying forum. I always manage to leave feeling inadequate.

At the forum, year 12 teachers get together in a room with paper cups of instant coffee and read exemplars of student work.

There are two types of people that scare me in these groups – the innovators and the ‘I-wouldn’t-have-graded-it-that-high’ experts.

We had an innovator at our table. Fresh out of University, new ideas and perfect English literary lingo flowed from his mouth. He spoke with the authority that only a new grad or a thirty-year veteran can.

I spent my time between feeling impressed, indignant and inadequate. Clearly this barely-even-an-adult was more competent than me. Thank goodness he didn’t know I’m running the faculty at my school.

The ‘experts’ were also out in full force. Irrespective of the piece, they always thought it was about two grades worse than I had. No matter that they were technically wrong, their air of superiority made it clear that their standards were higher than mine. I felt my insides wilting with the knowledge that I wouldn’t even know how to teach to their standard.

Many times I’ve felt a niggling feeling that I’m an imposter in this word of academics.

I wondered after, though, whether we’re all playing the same game. For all I know Mr. University left feeling inadequate next to the experience of the others on the table and the experts left wondering how, after so many years, they could still be marking too hard. We all put our best foot forward. We all want to look awesome. And, no doubt, we all struggle with feeling inadequate.

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Do we even know whom we voted for?

2016-07-04 20.14.47Australia is awaiting the drawn-out verdict of our election. The probable hung parliament is an unsatisfying result confirming fears that Australians either don’t know what they want, or don’t have confidence in anyone to deliver.

A big part of the problem is that most of us don’t really know whom we’re voting for.

This became mind-twistingly clear to me chatting to both my ‘leftie’ and right-wing friends and trying to reconcile all of their opposing views based on contradictory evidence.

It was daunting to think that as an educated person, I had next to no chance of figuring out what would be good for our country. I wasn’t sure there was any information I could trust.

Were the candidates really whom their websites portrayed? Could party policies be taken at face value or were there hidden agendas that I could never support? Was there truth or merit in any media reports? Do any of us have any idea what is actually going on behind the scenes of our country in defence, or international relations or economics or anything?

As I watched the election count ‘barracking’ for the party I thought I wanted to win, a friend jokingly reminded me that it probably didn’t matter anyway:

Whoever the Illuminati want to get in will get in.

Let’s hope that’s not the case, but either way one thing is still true: God knows who will get in, and whether the world goes to pot or not, He’s got the end game covered.

A Different Look at the Garbage Man…

662916_88280650When I was growing up, if you’d have asked me what was the lowest and least of all jobs, I’d probably have said ‘garbage collector.’

If you’d asked me again as an adult, I’d have been more diplomatic. I’d probably have spouted some jargon about every job being valuable and any aspiration being noble, but really I was just being politically correct. I mean, seriously, what a horrible job. Sure, someone has to do it, but surely not anyone I know.

Shame on me for my ignorance and stigmatising.

I have to say, that my mind has been drastically changed by the simple viewing of a TED talk. Robin Nagle challenged my stereotypes of garbage collection and radically reversed them. Never have I been so appreciative of those faithful people in that humble industry who are the lifeblood of our civilized society.

We have taken sanitation for granted for so long, we can hardly imagine the consequences of a society in which it doesn’t exist. We hold professionals such as doctors and nurses in high regard, crediting them with the management of our health and well-being, all the while forgetting how much we owe to those who are our first line of defense in the prevention of sickness and disease.

Have a watch of Nagle’s clip, and gain a new appreciation for these men and women who work tirelessly and often thanklessly behind the scenes.

‘Never Been Kissed’ and making wise choices about sexuality.

Free-Vector-Graphic-Art-Kiss1Drew Barrymore’s film, ‘Never Been Kissed,’ came out in 1999, my first year of high school. That movie was one of the big hits amongst teenage girls that year.

I remember my girlfriends and I being enthralled by the love story, and even re-winding and re-playing the scene when the heroine finally gets kissed.

Years later, however, I was horrified when I watched it for the first time as an adult, and as a teacher.

The main plot line involves a reporter going undercover as a student in a high school and ending up with a crush on her English teacher. He clearly reciprocates and makes a poor effort at concealing his feelings for her, until the end when he finally finds out that she is, in fact, an adult.

Now, I am sickened by the way in which the young teacher was mesmerized by his student. It makes me wonder how I could watch it, so unfazed, as a teenager.

It reminds me of a statement I heard recently: ‘There are legal ages for sex for a reason.’ Adolescent brains aren’t developed enough to deal with many aspects of their sexuality.

As a teenager, I somehow missed the inappropriateness of the film’s central love affair. Something that probably should have bothered me seemed romantic. As an adult, it all looks quite different.

It is important that we, as adults, protect our teenagers from making poor choices, until they are old enough to choose wisely.

When my Year 12s Play Pictionary

I had my last day with my senior students today. Earlier in the year, during a down moment, we played a class game of Pictionary: Two teams, two whiteboards, a lot of shouting and ‘senior worthy’ things to draw like ‘quantum physics’ and ‘Boo Radley.’

It became so raucous and epic that we decided to have the game of all games for our final lesson at the end of the year. Not only was my class involved, but also a few stragglers we’d picked up over the year; it was game on.

The following pictures were taken the moment after the team had correctly guessed the answer. I’ve put the answers at the end, so that you can have a guess too, though I think you’ll agree, their guessing skills are better than their drawing ones!

Class of 2013, thank you for a crazy year, and for the side-splitting laughter you caused me during this game!

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ANSWERS:

1. The Hunger Games

2. Encyclopedia

3. Air Force One

4. Compulsory Education

5. LOST

6. Carbon Dioxide

7. Evening

8. Oh Captain, my Captain

9. Machu Picchu

10. 21st Birthday

11. Back to the Future

12. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

13. The Roman Empire

14. Fossil

15. Abba

16. Seven Wonders of the World

Any Luck?

The Barr Smith Library Reading Room

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I love the Barr Smith Library reading room.

I never managed to study in there, though. Instead I’d have to hole up at some 70s style desk, in a dank corner, behind the stacks on level 2, because the beauty of the reading room made study impossible. Sometimes I’d sit in there though, pretending to work. I was always amazed by the air. Unlike the rest of the library, dull, stuffy and smelling of old books (surprise surprise), the reading room seemed to have the natural airflow of a European cathedral.

The reading room embodies my romantic ideas of universities; the paradoxical mix of tradition and history with freedom of thought and inspiration. I love that as I sat there my feet would rest on an old pipe that ran beneath the desk as a testament to a bygone era (someone once told me, the pipes used to carry hot water to keep the students’ feet warm). The old wooden desks, with inkwells in the corners, were inlaid with bottle green leather, and I’d smile as I looked at the various etchings and carved graffiti that I romantically imagined predated the war era (but that were probably circa 1990s).

The Barr Smith reading room made me feel like I was a part of something great; that I was one in a long line of scholars who had and would change the world. It almost whispered to me, ‘Seize the day girl; make your life extraordinary.’