Write Away?

This piece by Lucy Moss recently appeared in the TES. Do we really need to teach (or use) cursive handwriting? The issue of whether students need to produce joined-up writing is a divisive one – Lucy Moss takes a look at the debate                          

Everyone has an opinion on handwriting.  It’s a divisive issue that can take up whole staff meetings and Inset sessions, and often commands its own official policy in school.  Speaking to a colleague recently, we got on to the subject of teachers’ handwriting. While we agreed that it is essential for teachers to lead by example and write neatly and legibly in learners’ books, we disagreed on whether that should be in a certain style.  Cursive handwritingShe felt that all staff should use the school handwriting policy. She pointed out that I do this – which is true. But that is how I prefer to write at work; it does not mean everyone should do it.  I recently worked with a fantastic colleague who wrote neatly and legibly in students’ book…

Dear Casper

Yet another teacher has contacted me through the TES, asking me about teaching in Qatar. Well, it gives me an excuse to include lots of my old photos of Doha.

Dear Casper,
To be brutally honest, the Gulf English School does not have a good reputation. Yes, I might consider teaching there, if the alternative were to be unemployment and starvation, but not otherwise. 

Yes, it is true that the ISR reviews I sent to you are quite old. If you want to read more recent ones, then you will have to pay your twenty dollars or however much it costs these days. Then you will be able to read the lousy new reviews for the Gulf English School, as well as the lousy old ones.
Yes, in theory it might perhaps be possible for the Gulf English School to improve, but in reality that is most unlikely. If the school has the same Qatari owner or owners, then my guess is that nothing is going to change. In addition, most of the students will be Qatari and that is seriously bad news. There is also something called …

An Inspector Calls

There is no need for the Birling family to be worried, as this inspector came to St. George’s and she was suitably impressed by what she saw. Actually, she was not even called an “inspector”, but a Leading Improvement Partner (giving us a bit of LIP, I suppose, or was it just LIPservice?) Anyway, the inspector was in the school for three days and she certainly talked to a lot of people: students, JKN, teachers and parents. She did not come into any of my lessons, but she did have a look round my classroom and she asked me a few questions about what I teach and how I teach it.

At the moment I am feeling pretty blooming exhausted and being woken up at three in the morning, in order to take a naughty little dog outside to do her business, has left me feeling run down all day. Thank goodness it is Friday and the weekend has now started.

The flowers I bought for our Wedding Anniversay last week have lasted rather well. Another thing that has lasted quite well is my blog. 44,000 "hits&qu…

Another Weekend in Kalotina

It has been a long week. Irena decided to stay over in our villa in Kalotina, so I went back to our apartment in Sofia without her last Sunday. She wanted to stay there with Tina and do various garden-related things, as well as giving the whole place a good clean before we shut up shop for the winter.

This week has actually been pretty exhausting, as there were meetings with the St. George’s parents for more than two hours on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon. These meetings were supposed to last from 3.40 to 5.30pm, but in fact they always go on much longer. I always seem to be the last teacher to leave and then I have to take all of my students’ books and lots of other bits and pieces back from the sixthfloor to my classroom on the second floor. As if that were not enough, there was Halloween on Thursday, so the students all came to school dressed as monsters, witches and so on. In short, my dear students were not really in a mood for serious some studying.

As it is a public holiday o…

Dear John

Dear John,
How are you, my dear chap? I was sorry that I could not invite you to come to Bulgaria this summer, as we were off to Zakynthos in Greece and then some friends of ours from Qatar were supposed to be coming. Anyway, Irena put her pretty foot down when I mentioned your name as well!

The good news is that next summer she is off to the Crimea again (probably early in July) and that will be for about a month or so. Therefore I am planning a Grand Reunion of the Gang of Three – except that actually it is going to be the Gang of Four, as there will be an important addition to the likes of Peter Adams, John Cann and Simon Hill. Tina is a very naughty little Jack Russell and we love her very much. Her main interests are food, eating, and finding something to scoff. In some ways, she does look a bit like dear Zoika. Her speciality is waking me up in the morning by walking on my face.
Last week we were staying at our country house in Kalotina. Irena and I went for a lovely walk besid…


The most important thing we’ve learned

As far as children are concerned

Is never, ever, ever let

Them near your television set.

In fact, just don’t install

The idiotic thing at all.

Well, that was one of my greatest heroes, Roald Dahl, in that modern classic, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But Dahl’s words of warning about the pernicious effect of the TV on young children’s minds seems quaintly dated, irrelevant and out of all proportion to the dangers for children that can be found on the Internet. And some of those dangers are not passive, like a television. They will coming looking for your son or daughter, 24/7. Yes, you can switch off your family’s TV, but how do you turn the Internet off?

Recently my school, St. George’s in Sofia, has had a blitz on Safeguarding. All of the staff have been doing online training with a company called Educare. Some of the courses have been pretty explicit and not exactly entertaining, with such topics as child pornography, cyber bullying, online groo…

Veliko Tina

In many ways Veliko Tarnovo, also known as V.T., is a much nicer city than Sofia. It is smaller, less polluted and the traffic is nowhere near as bad as it is in the capital. Every year, we go and spend a week or so in our apartment in Veliko Tarnovo.  For I don't know how long, Irena and I have been saying, "When you retire, we will move in V.T. and that is where we will spend the winter, as it won't be much fun spending the winter in Kalotina." The main problem with this plan is that we have not retired yet. Well, I was retired for six months, but then I started working again and now we have started to put down roots in Sofia, not in V.T.
This trip to V.T. was rather different, as it was dominated by the presence of Tina. Yes, it was a lot of fun to have her delightful company, but she was also seriously ill. Several trips to the Vet were needed, along with quite a few injections and a course of antibiotics. First she was vomiting and had bad diarroheia, followed by …