Friday, June 25, 2010

Mums are not thick.

(even if this one is sick, sick as a dog, hack hack)

But we are bombarded with information.

And many of us do not know where to begin to sniff out bias, flaws, confusion in terms of correlation v causation, cherry picking in response to headline that says "Study Shows if you don't do X you are a BAD mum !!!!" Well alright, they don't come right out and say it, but it is often implied.

Bad Science and The Quackometer are good places to start if you want to be able to take your baby steps in working out what a study is really saying all by yourself.

But I am very, very lazy busy.

What I'd prefer is somebody else to do it for me, but writes in a way that lets me understand how they demystified the study so if I don't want to take their word for it i can go check it out for myself.

I've found this one,

and this one

and just found this one too

If anybody has any others I am all ears.

Just as soon as I stop coughing my head off and feeling like puking and\or fainting is on my immediate horizon.

Tea and sympathy gratefully accepted cos the Sock Dropper (despite being able to walk, function, laugh, eat, whinge about being out of the world cup etc.etc.) is obviously so much sicker than myself and won't give me any in case I try and steal some of his "Officially the Real Sickie Wot is More Sick Than Anybody Else in the House" thunder.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The world and its mother...

has suddenly decided it wants to learn English.


Which is unusual cos aside from a few mini kiddie intensives this is a quiet time for me.

They must have heard I was looking forward to a nice child free rest.

So anyway dashing around looking for last minute inspiration I found this, most useful for TEFL on the run when it has all gone bent and you have no idea what you are going to do. I'd say most useful for low pre-inter and up

And for the lower levels I've been experimenting with audio lesson records. so far it does seem to be having a major impact not only on pronun., but also retention.

Here are a few I've just done.

The hardest part is recording your own voice without cringing at the result. The second hardest is gently underlining how the English "eat their words" without going at a wholly natural speed. These are a bit of a fiddle to make at the beginning, but I find I can knock them out in  half an hour flat now including finding images and making the vids.

Getting to know you

Airport survival

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dear so and so, The hot under the collar homeschooler edition.

Dear So and So...
Yeah I know it is a day early, but I have to get this off my chest and I need the letter ready and refined for the morrow, cos today Sock Dropper has to collect his still sick mum from the hospital and I can't dump all this on him as wel,l so I'll do the writing and translating today and do the convincing in terms of sending it, on Friday.

Just hang on a minute, changes in the law makes this disclaimer on this post a must.

Disclaimer Questo blog non rappresenta una testata giornalistica, pertanto non può considerarsi un prodotto editoriale ai sensi della legge n. 62 del 7.03.2001.

The letter oddly enough, was provoked by yesterday's post below this one.

Dear Director of the worst school district in Lomellina,

I am enquiring as to the reasoning behind the choice of July 26th for the examination of external students. Six weeks after the end of term.

As you may well be aware well you would be if you bothered to keep abreast of research in education there is solid evidence to support the conclusion that long breaks from education result in significant backsliding in terms of skills (reading\writing\maths) and seriously impedes the retention of information learned during the academic year.

While you yourself or your staff may not have seen said studies because keeping yourself up to date with developments in education would steal precious time from keeping tabs on the terms and conditions of your contracts, I am sure both you and your staff can only imagine the outrage and general hysterics on a national level, from the entire profession who would have a collective nervous breakdown, were the INVLASI exams held on a date immediately after a six week break from the classroom, spent by the bulk of the student body in summer camp or away on holiday, thus decimating the motivation and opportunity for the self study needed in order to minimise a dramatic dip in the ability to demonstrate educational attainment.

I ask why you find it appropriate to put external students at such a known disadvantage when it is apparent to anybody with three braincells who has followed the teaching profession's screeching, teeth gnashing, wailing, excuse making reaction to the current reforms, that internal students would have been afforded an automatic, media covered, strident and vociferous defense were they too placed in such a disadvantageous position.

I am assuming that that the choice of date was not a deliberate act (conscious or sub conscious) only cos I am trying to be polite and not get myself sued for libel of retribution for the rejection of the state school system, but instead a mere oversight.

Do you intend to rectify this oversight ?

If not, what steps will you be taking to ensure the exams reflect the bleeding obvious undeniable reality that the external students have been indefensibly forced into a position where they are required to demonstrate equivalence in educational attainment without an equivalence in terms of testing conditions ?

I personally would find a far earlier date acceptable, if this is not possible a later date allowing for a few weeks of revision after the summer camps close would also be acceptable.

I will be forwarding this correspondence as it develops to the proveggione not cos I expect them to strain themselves and doing anything about it , but since their investigation about your misuse of funds I know any hint of them freaks you out, who can afford to be shuffled to another school again ? Ohh this would be the third one ! which means you'd get shuffled to the state educational provision for the handicapped, lucky them, being the wastebin of all the educational staff who fuck up so often that they need to be hidden where people are least equipped to complain about them with the intent to take matters further should a resolution not be forthcoming.

PS We will be on holiday that day AND he will be very very ill for a month, and since my BIL is in the medical mafia I'll give you all the medical evidence you need, sit on that and swivel you gitfaced thing you.


A huge thank you to those of you who gave me ideas and helped me feel less helpless and alone yesterday. An especially big thank you to Indie who spent so much time on facebook yesterday talking me down. Were if not for her I may well have lost the plot, picked up the phone and made things ten times worse.

Sill want to move, am absolutly going to find out how to change schools and work out to what extent my choice is limited when it comes to a replacment school (ie can I live here (for the time being) but be under a school in sud Tirol ?).

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Flobbing gits !!!

26th of July is our exam date. A whole morning full of exams, followed by an interrogation with three teachers.

Numerous, quality studies demonstrate that students regress significantly during long holidays.

So they chose to test the external kids, the kids who opted out of their system six sodding weeks AFTER school has ended. (the school kids did their tests last week !!)

Bear in mind that they are fully aware that those specific six week are those when the summer camps are on.

26th of August would at least give us a few weeks after summer camp to get him back into the swing of things and undo the backsliding.

But oh no, despite the fact that the entire teaching staff would throw a hissy fit on a massive scale if you suggested their students (and themselves by extension) were externally accessed (with prejudice) right after a six week holiday, it is just fine and dandy for the kids who rejected state school via homeschooling or unaccredited private schools.

Don't tell me this isn't a form of payback, to reduce our chances of demonstrating a better level of educational attainment outside of their school (bearing in mind that you can compare most of the kid's progress "in this local school" to "after they left this local school" via the school's own record keeping system, because the bulk of these children are outside the system BECAUSE of their experience in said local school).

Four years now this sodding school has been a constant source of angst, irritation and outright fury thanks to their sloppy, small minded, unprofessional mindset that places greater importance on the retention of state jobs over the education of children

They are jumping through hoops to avoid giving us an appointment so we can ask questions about the pitch and format of the exams. God forbid that we should have the kind of advantage in terms of past papers that they enjoy when externally tested via INVLASI. We wouldn't even know the date if we hadn't called for the appointment we can't have. They said they left a message on my (defunct) mobile. Considering this is a legal requirment I have to comply with surely the ethical and professional thing to do is either speak to me in person on the phone or send a registered letter to ensure I get the information. they've never had an issue with making me spend an hour in the PO trying to pick up a registered letter from them before now. For far less pressing matters.

My kid has worked his butt off for a solid year, we didn't kick up a stink when they wanted us to use their programme, we didn't make a fuss when they failed to give us the programme until January, he has gone from scraping by in Italian last year to successfully completing a prima media entry test this morning (Son of Thor is end of year 4, prima media test is beginning of year 6). Does he get a well earned rest like the other kids at school ? Does he get to immerse himself all day, everyday with other kids now they are free to play "full time" campo estivo in a carefree mode without having to face schooling before and after ?

Does he hell as like, cos I am going to have to get him up early to homeschool for half an hour before he goes to camp and then try and get him upright long enough to do the same when he comes home at six and do full time revision at the weekends.

Right that is it.

I am moving to sud Tirol. The Italian bit with autonomy.

Learning German is a lot less stressful than this.

I may have an overdeveloped sense of fair play, but I am going to get an ulcer if they keep this up.

I personally don't have any philosophical objections to my being (objectively) registered, tested and evaluated.

I have a massive objection to it being done on a seriously inclined playing field.

Anybody who says to me "this is Italy" is going to get clonked (be warned Sock Dropper), this wouldn't be Italy if there was a damn sight less apathy and shoulder shrugging. Italy is made of people, it isn't an entity in intself, with a crappy personality of its own that forces its ways onto an unsuspecting populace.

Pass me a pitchfork.

Cos I am taking this personally.

Particularly since the bulk of the other homeschoolers in Italy have either already done their exams or have date within or around the end of the school year.

I can't do this country anymore.


Oh great, now I am leaking.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Exam skills of the sitting kind

Son of Thor is out of practise at sitting still to think. We are doing exam practise and revision and right now he is rolling across the floor muttering to himself as he divides a decimal number by a double digit number.

We had chair aerobics during multiplication of the same. The making of "no snow" snow angels during place value, hedgehog imitations for fractions, try to bite own toes to accompany problems and sticking pens in orifices (facial, I hasten to add) during weights and measures. Geometry gymnastics pending.

He is getting the answers right more or less, with no help, although he keeps asking for reassurance that he is on the right track. So I think the material is OK, but we are going to have either practise sitting still and quiet for 2 hours at a time (apparently that is how long each exam can be) or I am going to have to buy superglue in bulk and surreptitiously stick him to the chair when he goes to be tested in July.

He is a fidget like me, that's how I think and process best, pootling or wibbling physically. I feel bad that the freedom I have given him over the year over his own body now has to be trained out of him.

Don't see what else I can do though, because the school will be deeply underwhelmed by break dancing in their testing process.

NB - It isn't that he can't sit still and be quiet when needed, as a life skill I have done an OK job as a parent in teaching him to suck it up in church, theatres etc etc. It's just an issue when he is thinking, he is out of practise at doing it in a stationary manner.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Online Italian lessons for Italian school kids

Yes !!!

From Ciao Bambini, a pilot programme to explore tutor led on line learning for small native speakers of Italian. CLICK LINK FOR INFO

Superior parents home educate

The rest send their kids to school.

Seriously. What a load of unmitigated bollocks.

"They (parents of kids in mainstream education) don't seem to like having their children around, whereas home educating parents enjoy the company of their children".

You can find variations of that sentiment all over the net, in many languages.

And I repeat, it is a load of unmitigated bollocks.

There is one single piece of information you can glean about a parent based on the fact they home educate.

And that is..... that they home educate.

There is as much variance in terms of parental affection, ability and "success" within the home educating sector of humanity as there is within the sector that uses schools.

I don't love Son of Thor more, or enjoy his company more now, than when he went to school.

And to be honest, I really sodding miss a chunk of the day to myself (potentially an offence punishable with excommunication).

Home education as a concept, as a practise, is good enough as it is.

Why would anybody need to pump it up by putting "the other side" down ?

We ought to have enough confidence in the validity of our choice not to feel the need to gild our Lilly.

The sensation of confidence and self assurance garnered via diminishing others is as substantial and as enduring as a mirage.

Not to mention being a pretty unpleasant thing to do in the first place.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Litter tray training: Buono
Snowball has made great progress in terms of understanding what the tray is for and where it is. The occurrences of peeing on his own feet have been greatly reduced. However there is still room for improvement, specifically in the areas of over enthusiastic digging, resulting in a kitchen sprayed with kitty litter and falling asleep in the litter tray as a direct result of over enthusiastic digging combined with the energy limitations of kittenhood.

Eating: Excellente
Snowball has worked hard on the sniffing out of food skills and his puffed up tummy is testimony to his perseverance and concentration. A minor criticism would be along the lines of perhaps combining this with self preservation skills and not sneaking between Sooty's legs to get at the food bowl, particularly at this squishable stage of his existence.

Sleeping: Insufficiente
Snowball needs to work on his inappropriate choice of sleeping arrangements. Kipping in the litter tray is a fail at KS1 (Kitty Standards 1). Waking up at 1am, 4am and 6 am respectively, while not appreciated, is however within the acceptable range for differentiated learning.

Playing: Discreto
After a slow start, with much withdrawal and shaking Snowball has made progress at a rate that is is exceptional. A little more attention paid to the sticking of baby claws in lower lips people who have no issue in reading the messages from their nerve endings and Snowball can reasonably expect to complete his coursework with flying colours.

Looking cute: Excellente (Lode, lode, lode)
But a bath wouldn't go amiss.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Another abandoned teeny tiny kitten

That we found this morning.

But are not keeping.

No, seriously. I mean it this time.

Son of Thor is running through a list of names as we speak, but I will stand firm.


UPDATE - Kitty is not an "feral cat has kittens in my garden and I want rid of them" dump, I left him alone in a kitty house with blanky for an hour and went up to check on him, he walked to my hand, purred, rolled over for a tummy tickle and then curled up in a ball in my hand to sleep. I really don't think a feral kitty would do that. I'm 99% sure he comes from domestic stock.

I am not under Bare Naked Mummy's control (see comments) Absolutly

UPDATE - His (?) name is Snowball, I wanted to call him Micro-Trouble, but have been outvoted 2-1.


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