Tuesday, September 16, 2014

rites of passage

In 1968, I passed the 11+ exam and made it to grammar school. This year my brother commented on the idea that I had, effectively, defined my own context.

I clearly remember the day the news of my exam success arrived. I had been on school camp and arrived back in town with my rucksack and sleeping bag. By arrangement, I loaded them into Dad's car - this was never locked in those days, and was parked outside the small office block in which he worked. He leaned out of the first floor window and shouted, "You're in!".

I have not thought about it too much until very recently. Dad himself had been a 'scholarship boy' and I was following in his footsteps. And lucky I was to have a first class education - not only the classical grammar school stuff but also to grow up in the 60s and 70s in a school for girls that prepared us for a future where gender was to be no barrier to our careers.

I went on to teacher training and left my formal degrees to later in life (via that wonderful institution, the Open University). All of my teaching career has been in comprehensive education - in which I still fervently believe because it gives everyone the chance that I had: to define one's own context. I have also been lucky enough to teach at the Open University - once again, an institution which enables people to realise dreams.

Last week I watched an old favourite film: Erin Brokovitch. Last evening I watched the film Avatar again and this evening it was Billy Elliott once more. Perhaps tomorrow I should re-run The History Boys. What do they have in common? People who redefine their own spaces - with support from those who believe in them and in their potential.

This may perhaps be all a bit sentimental but I believe in it and I think I always will. When I hang up my interactive whiteboard pen for the last time (75 Monday mornings to go), I think I'll still be doing something that is about ....... well, dreams basically - why not?