S.A.T’s and a sculpture for education.

collections, Connections, Philosophy

 

Had to break from the ‘Rudimentary collection’ to show you this sculpture, a new addition to the ‘Only Human collection’ and apt for this week.

'Dunce' 2018 Sam Shendi

‘Dunce’ 2018 Sam Shendi

Monday morning. Our eldest was nervous. It has been S.A.T.S week. His teacher has prepared them well and positively encouraged them all year, drawing out the best in each and every one of them. She has ensured them that it is about measuring her abilities as a teacher and the school. My eldest told me that she has said that to them but he wants to do well for her because she is such a good teacher.

Thing is they don’t really measure anyone’s ability do they. The teachers or the pupils. These tests won’t show how imaginative and creative our eldest is, his sense of humour or his popularity in the class. His love of reading which has inspired an interest in Greek Myths and legends. His uniqueness. Or any of the other individuals taking these national tests which seems to me more like my GCSE papers never mind ten and eleven year olds taking them. They have been practising for these tests but what are they learning from them? Do ten and eleven year olds need to be tested and why?

We label, statement and measure abilities from a young age. Is it any different now from the past? In the Victorian era children were made to wear a dunce cap and sit on a stool in the corner of the classroom. A form of humiliating punishment for misbehaving but also if they had failed to show that they had learnt their lesson for the day.

I told my husband that two of the trickier words in our eldest test had been ‘vague’ and ‘inconceivable’. “I don’t know how to spell those”, he said candidly. Albeit that English is his second language and he learns it as he goes along proof enough that knowing a spelling, a grammatical term or an equation doesn’t mean the success or failure that testing seems to suggest.

The concept that my husband envisages for the sculpture is that it sits on a plinth surrounded by origami paper birds which if you look closely are all made from paper covered in complex mathematical problems and equations. They would be positioned in concentric circles around the plinth that ‘Dunce’ would stand on.

Thomas Edison was difficult to teach, maybe due to dyslexia but he also asked too many questions. Indeed, many brilliant minds have struggled in an education system. Children can easily switch off and become discouraged if their natural inquisitiveness isn’t tapped into. I know it is hard to have a system that fits all. You can’t. But I do think in Primary school, children should be fostering a love of learning and a desire to question, discover and more importantly play. It is so dependant on the teacher but how can you measure a teacher’s ability to do that with the scores from a test the children take.

The two reasoning papers this week were the hardest. Whilst I am a little old school in thinking they should learn reasoning, rhetoric, logic and grammar. I don’t think it is reasonable to find something so hard, to miss questions because they are complicated and then not have enough time to go back and have a go, when you are still only ten. Anyway, they are all over now for my eldest who has taken them in his stride, not knowing any different I suppose. He openly said that he could understand why they were being tested on arithmetic, reasoning and spelling. He wasn’t so sure about the comprehension though, which is probably the one he is best at.

If you are an avid reader of my blog, thank you for reading. You will have probably noticed that grammar and spelling are not my strengths and I have had to overcome the knowledge of that which has prevented me from writing in the past. Perhaps the new system, teaching 7 year olds what modal adverbs or conjunctives or all the other technical terms I was never taught will stand them in better stead?

I am not sure there is an answer to today’s Education System. I just hope that my children understand that education is life long, learning is continuous and intelligence really can not be measured. Education doesn’t remain within the confines of school. or to tick boxes. Education is ultimately for the betterment of ones own self-development.

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Blossoming from a road trip

Colour, Connections, Making
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‘Blossomed’. 2017. Sam Shendi. Rudimentary Collection

So I missed my newly regular Friday posting last week due to being away on a road trip with the boys. The three of us ventured all the way down to the south coast, taking in Oxford and catching up with old friends, the Roald Dahl museum, the stormy sea, staying with a relative, Stonehenge and Warwick Castle.

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The sun definitely came out for what felt like the first time (and only time this holiday!) on our day at Stonehenge which our eldest relished as he listened to his audio guide for information intently. Like ancient sculptures they stood majestically in open fields reaching up to something beyond and yet rooting down into the earth. I felt my boy blossomed in his eagerness to learn and absorb the history.
This piece, ‘Blossomed’ is also reaching up to something beyond, looking like it has been inspired by UFO’s or that which is extra-terrestrial. But, imagine the process of turning clay into a figure and the stages you would capture in-between the initial lump of clay and the anatomical figure. This is the rudimentary stage. Here below you could see the curve of the back to the right with stomach in red, arms stretched out with clasping cup like hands and legs morphed into pincer like structures .
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A road trip feels like a rudimentary holiday. It is a basic sort of holiday. The positives about going on a road trip is that you see new things, learn and discover not just about the places you visit but about yourself. I really don’t like getting lost! On our first day I was totally reliant on my phone to get us to my friend’s  house in Oxford, usually I just plug-in an address and it tells me where to go. Well, when you are in a new place without a map and for some unknown reason the phone is no longer speaking to you, it gets tricky! Patience gets thin. So on day two I ditched the phone and went old school, purchased an overpriced road map and navigated my way to the Roald Dahl Museum and then everywhere else for the next 4 days. Sometimes the old ways are the best ways after all. Whilst I think I slightly regressed in my behaviour the boys excelled in meeting new people, spending time with an elderly relative and her dog and taking in all that was new. It was great to see them blossoming. I only see that now in hindsight obviously. Slightly sleep deprived and relentless driving with boys bickering in the back with each other was my filter at the time. However, I have returned with a renewed energy of sorts. Starting to return to a regular pattern of sleep and healthy food but a change is definitely as good as a rest!

Whilst we were away the sculptor painted the boys’ room and the living room. So we came back to an upside down house and we got straight into painting, in the attic, recently plastered and all set to become a new space. I am managing the feelings of overwhelm by focusing on the end goal and the fact that this had been on the wish list for a few years. Positive thinking and affirmations and being more structured with my daily planning have definitely helped this all take shape.

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The shape of this sculpture from this angle (above) looks like a bud, a seed or a pod growing out of something moving and changing and then below the angle shows it blossoming into something reaching and grasping in all directions for every opportunity. Just like the boys, little seedlings growing and changing daily. Blossoming.

(I wish the weather would!)

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Creative Education

Colour, Connections, Public Art, Relationships
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Family Portrait (2016)

I thought that following my perhaps, sorrowful sounding poem, in my last post; I should qualify that I don’t in anyway regret the decision to stop rowing. I had a fleeting thought where I wondered why I didn’t follow through with doing the PGCE course at Cambridge, from where I could have followed through with rowing after my degree more easily than rowing out of London but I wouldn’t be where I am now if that had happened. Fate. My parents are both teachers and coincidently both ‘the sculptor’s’ parents were. I feel there is something about education which is in our blood, but both myself and my two siblings have probably intentionally avoided it. Which is why I probably didn’t go through with the PGCE course!

So my relationship with my boys education is quite impassioned. After going to parents evening the other week it is apparent that both boys are naturally creative. I guess it’s in the genes. As much as I am impressed by both their individual teachers and the creativity that has been covered. I wish for them a more creative led education system. I am not sure this current system will display the bright sparks they are. But does that really matter?

Part of me wishes that I had the energy, resources and space to home school them. So that learning could be child-creative led. In today’s world I am not sure there is such a need to be solely focused on Maths and English and the level for a 6 year old seems absurd. I am not sure I could answer some of the SAT’s questions on the Key stage one paper. Yet they also do interesting topic work but I am not sure what that teachers them per say.

right brainEducation should not be about ticking boxes or getting grades. It should be about learning, exciting and encouraging learning as a life long process. My six year old’s teacher said that, ‘you can tell he sees drawing as work’. However, if you ask him what he likes at school he will say, “Art” and what he doesn’t like is “working”. Surely all learning needs to be seen as fun for as long as possible. If sitting a six year old down for fractions and finding a verb in a sentence is hard work it leave little for when they are 16 surely.

I also think achievement in school does not necessarily correlate with life achievement or career achievement.  It is difficult to compare my husband’s education, he was schooled in Egypt, Yemen and Saudi Arabia and Fate. His education really started when he was at university in Cairo, which was free but that’s a whole other issue. So I could rant on but instead will  introduce this new collection. The Family Portrait, it is one of a set which is a smaller sized collection which I will try and cover over the next few weeks.