I have blue fingers. No, it was not an exploding pen, it was food colouring. I love ideas. There is nothing better in my day than that moment when a student says something/asks something that leads to something else. Let me give an example: we are studying Europe and we were looking at Switzerland. I mentioned that it was land-locked, completely surrounded by land, with no access to the sea. (Did you see what I did there? I did some teaching without you noticing.) At this point, Jose Antonio raised the idea that Switzerland’s position should make it a very powerful country in war. However, no one in the class could remember Switzerland ever being mentioned when it came to war. In fact, as Mr. Kay pointed out, during The Sound of Music the Trapp family escaped into Switzerland – where there was no war. Switzerland was neutral, Switzerland is neutral, and Switzerland will remain forever neutral. And the odd thing about all this neutrality? The Swiss flag is a white cross on a red background, in other words, the opposite of The Red Cross emblem which is a red cross on a white background. I love it when we end up discovering something new and different!
But what has this got to do with blue fingers? you ask.
Yesterday we did the experiment with celery. At the end of the lesson, someone asked if you watered a plant with coloured water, would it change colour? Now, I know that originally carrots weren’t orange. Oops, should I have told you to sit down for that? Yes, carrots were originally purple, but those wild-and-crazy Dutch guys loved them soooooo much that they started breeding them so that they grew orange-coloured (orange being the Dutch’s favourite colour). So, what we have decided to do is, grow cauliflowers. Except, we are going to water one cauliflower normally, with normal water, and the other cauliflower with blue water.
I’m not sure that this is going to work. I’m also not sure that I can keep it going for long enough – never mind the fact that some student is going to end up distracted and so we have to abandon the whole thing, I’m worried about someone getting covered in blue food colouring. Someone like…me! Anyway, at the moment there are cauliflowers being grown in 6A. One of them is being fed blue water. I will keep you informed.
For the second day running, I didn’t make it outside to open car doors. Yesterday I was talking to Miss Julie about 5th grade maths, today it was Miss Miriam and Miss Addis. Then it was straight into lessons, and we started with maths. Mental arithmetic today – multiplication using the distributive law. The world has changed in so many ways. In maths we teach a lot more topics than we used to. We are constantly adding more and more to the syllabus, and not just in maths, in every subject. We tend to bombard children with more and more information, and more and more problems. When I was young (many, many, many years ago), we spent months and months (probably years) working on our number bonds and our multiplication tables. Now, students get to spend a day or two, and then we move on. The government demands we spend more time doing maths than doing arithmetic, and the basic skills are lost. We sometimes force children to run before they can walk, we deny them the basic tools to make them competent in subjects. Basically, what I am saying here is, often it amazes me that 6th graders don’t know their tables – and when I say know I mean know.
In English we looked at the difference between Independent and Dependent Clauses. And, in Geography, we have started to look at Western Europe. In the afternoon, the students had computing followed by music. I took the time to write my exams – actually, the sixth grade exams, and to get my fingers coloured blue.
Oh, I did talk to all the 6th grade today, to thank them. It suddenly occurred to me in recess that the whole sixth grade were speaking English. At no point did I have to remind any of them to not speak Spanish. I then realised that this was not unusual. This group are an excellent group of students when it comes to speaking English. Well done them!