All posts by bevct

Unlearning Intolerance

Yesterday South Africa “celebrated” Human Rights Day. I use the quotation marks as March 21st marks the anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre; hardly something worth celebrating. I guess we should celebrate the country we have now; our freedom, our constitution, our democracy … or perhaps the promise of how great a country we COULD have.

Continue reading Unlearning Intolerance

Homework! Oh, Homework!

Years ago, when IĀ  still owned my educational theatre company – Hooked on Books – I included a poem by Jack Prelutsky in the Senior Primary show. I had my actors sing the poem, with accompanying choreography, to the tune of George Michael’s Faith (which will give you a clearer indication of how many years ago I’m talking about šŸ˜‰ )

Go on, sing it (you’ll need to extend some words and add in a few “oh-ohs” to make it scan – but you can do it): Continue reading Homework! Oh, Homework!

Failing to let them fail

When I was living and teaching in California, in the early 2000’s, I was lucky enough to attend some wonderful teaching conferences and seminars. A particularly inspirational speaker (whose name I wish I’d written down, or committed to memory) said something that made a huge impression on me:

“Never deny a student their right to fail.”

Continue reading Failing to let them fail

Spotting Talent

If I had to narrow down the one thing that I’m best at, it would probably be the ability to spot potential and talent in people. Running my own education theatre company years ago, I managed to nab the “pick of the litter” each year. Now our TV screens, stages and award ceremonies are littered with stars who landed their first acting jobs with me, back in the day.

When I was teaching in schools, I managed to spot talent in my students, too. Continue reading Spotting Talent

Learning Starts with “Me”

Learning is all about making connections. A vast, but relatively simple system of neurons, axons and synapses, in our brains, is constantly changing as we are exposed to new stimuli.Sensory stimulation strengthens these connections, whilst synapses that are seldom used end up in the recycle bin and are eventually eliminated altogether. Simplistically, this is how we learn and also how we forget. And it all starts with “me” …

Continue reading Learning Starts with “Me”

Careful the Things You Say

Careful the things you say
Children will listen
Careful the things you do
Children will see and learn
Children may not obey, but children will listen
Children will look to you for which way to turn

Steven Sondheim, Into the Woods

The Witch in the famous Sondheim musical was singing her cautionary song to parents, but theĀ message is just as important for teachers. Continue reading Careful the Things You Say

Wildely Out of Touch with Our Teens

HamletĀ and The Picture of Dorian GrayĀ are the prescribed texts for South African government schools’ Grade 12 English First Language exam this year. As my Matric students might say, “Whaaaaaaaaaaaat??!!?”

Please do not mistake my alarm for a personal aversion to these texts. I am a classicist at heart and will defend the inclusion of Shakespeare in the English curriculum till my dying day.Ā “Hamlet” is one of my favourite dramatic texts; dense with existential anguish, wit, dramatic irony and a great big knock-down-drag-out in the final act. I adore Oscar Wilde and am loving revisiting “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” in preparation for helping my private Matric students.Ā  I’m chuckling away as I reread it, giving frequent mental nods and bows to the genius of Wilde and his acerbic wit. I, however, am not an 18-year old student.

Continue reading Wildely Out of Touch with Our Teens