working the day away

Saturday night and I have just consumed a huge bowl of vanilla ice cream sitting in my bed, for no other reason that I wanted too.

I have just spent the entire day at a teachers’ conference. Yes,  an entire Saturday that I am not paid for. I also gave up almost anentire week of my last holidays to go to a conference. So , please, next time you hear someone go on about all the holidays that teachers get, remind them that many of us give up many days of our lives without recompense  to learn for the sake of our students.

It was a long day, because some of the sessions I attended were not my first choice due to limited places, and worse still, bore little resemblance to the description in the brochure.

The first break out session I went to, I very quickly started to think I was either in the wrong session, or the wrong room, but checking my program once, twice, proved that was not true. A number of other people were having the same thought as they were looking around and checking their programs too.

Remember the eighties when time share holiday package were all the rage, and you would stupidly filled in some “competition” entry that promised you a prize, and you won every time – a very flimsy set of saucepans and a cheap imitation grandfather clock, but only after you sat through two hours and a lifetime of heavy marketing on buying a time share holiday entitlement?

Mr FD dragged me along to one once, when our daughters were toddlers and I was young and gullible. They whisked our children off to some  secret child minding centre where I soon realised they were going to remain under guard until we agreed to sign on the dotted line to pay for a  right to vacation for a week annually in their building until the scheme went bankrupt and we were left with a large loan and no holiday. While those around us signed up and popped champagne corks to celebrate their memorable moment, Mr FD and I worked out our escape plan. In the end we garnered where our children were being held hostage, so while Mr FD made a grab for the flimsy saucepan set and the imitation white plastic grandfather clock, I grabbed a daughter under each arm and we made our escape to the elevator. We dared not speak and barely breathed until we hit the underground car park and had our children strapped in their car seats.

I mention this memory, as those same feelings came back to me as I sat in that session. The presenter was so bad, the session such a misrepresentation of the reality, that I felt like a trapped animal. I could have easily gnawed off my own leg to get out of there before the hour was up.

The next session was made a little more interesting by the appearance of a man who sported a head of hair that looked like on of those faux fur hats women thought were so fashionable in the 1960s. My mother had one, that she wore to church every Sunday in winter and it made her look like a Russian Cossack, but even the Queen was wearing them at the time, so what else was my mother to do? I don’t doubt my sister probably found it recently while clearing mother’s house. I hope she killed it before she put it in the bin.

The last session of the day was also a misrepresentation, but by this time (4-5pm!) I had given up the will to live, and I was on a depressed downer from the three cups of bad coffee I had consumed throughout the day, so I resigned myself to my fate.

The presenters were from a very posh private school, and talking about an online learning system that it turned out that people in the government schools had never heard of, so they must have been far more pissed off than I, for I had at least completed a workshop in the system last year. They bubbled on about how wonderful this system was and how their students spent hours on line at home doing their homework, yadda yadda yad, which just forced me to say “well, that is great, but many of our students are poor and or in foster care and there is no internet at home. How do you get around that issue?” That is the real world, people. Yes, our students all have lap tops, subsidised by the school and the government, but we can’t make the assumption that they have internet connectivity. Digital divide, alive and well.

They imitated goldfish for a moment, before blinking their eyes and ignoring my comment. The idea of a world without connectivity was so far removed from their deep carpeted school halls that it was beyond their comprehension. It was not even in their mind set to even check if their students had a connectivity issue, because in their world those things just don’t happen.

The haves and the have nots, so alive and divided; and that is why I sat in my bed on a Saturday night and ate a bowl of ice cream.

13 thoughts on “working the day away

    • Actually, the one really great thing about the conference was the food they served. I was able to select a huge ceasar salad in a noodle box and fruit salad for lunch. The coffee was bad, pouring from a huge urn and so strong it made my gorgeous hair stand on end. So I skipped dinner and ate ice cream. Second time this year I have had ice cream in bed! It must be my new dirty habit.


  1. Interesting about the internet thing. With the huge boom in ‘wifi’ over here, some schools are creating large ‘hot spots’ around their buildings for access by the local low income kids – we’re talking housing estates, not coffee shop sized patches. I’m not sure about the economics of this as any pass codes will be shared immediately by all and sundry, but it sounds like a good idea.


    • We have wifi throughout the school, and they just need their school log on password to access, but our cities are differently geographically to USA with most people living in single family dwellings, and not the housing density of USA. Our students can live up to 90 minutes away by bus or train in rural areas too.
      If our students were hanging around at weekends it would be more likely they would be there to burn the place down.


  2. I note a recent survey showing primary school kids doing better at maths without the benefit of calculators. Turns out they understand the principles better. Seems to make sense – understand the principle first, then learn to use technology to do more complex problems quickly. I wonder if the posh school presenters were being paid! Ratty


    • No I don’t think they were paid, I just think they live in a bubble, though apparently some of their students need random alcohol testing. I think the research proves that shallow use of technology, using it for the sake of using when the old method was just as good, assists no one. Sadly due to lack of motivation or time many teachers do not go beyond that level. Merely word processing an assignment is not using technology. A multimodal presentation is much richer learning.


  3. Sobering stuff at the end, but I loved the part about the timeshare. Where did you end up putting the grandfather clock?


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