Monday, 30 November 2009


I honestly think that judgement never helps anyone and yet I hear it all the time. I hear people say things like:
 “Well she just tries too hard.”
 “You know him, he's useless, he can’t plan anything.”
 “She’s rubbish at communicating what she means.”
 “He’s a bad parent.”
 “Well what do you expect from people like that?”
 “She's so vain."
 “They spoil their kids.”
 ‘You don’t like golf do you?’

I think judgement sometimes comes out of not valuing difference and diversity. Of course we understand the way we do things ourselves, we understand (and are tuned into) our own values, our own lifestyle choices, our own preferences. And of course, we are very likely to believe that our own choices are right, which can therefore mean we might believe any choice that is not the same as our own, is possibly wrong -especially if all this judgement is coming straight from our subconscious.

We all have different talents, values and motivations. This needs to be celebrated - not judged.

In training school governors (often a more diverse bunch of people in terms of attitudes than teachers), I used to do an activity called, ‘Is it wrong?’ I would ask participants to sort a selection of potentially perceived ‘wrongdoings’ (e.g. taking someone’s life, abortion, lying, adultery, taking drugs, sex outside marriage, stealing, swearing, working on a Sunday, homosexuality, eating meat etc) into three categories:
1) always wrong,
2) never wrong, and
3) depends.
The first thing that always struck me was the variation in people's willingness to judge. Some people would set to immediately and confidently sort all the cards in no time. Frequently these people had far more cards in the ‘always wrong’ section. Others were more woolly about it and would put more cards in the ‘depends’ section. More ‘liberal’ people would put more of the cards into the ‘never wrong’ category.

I would go on to challenge some of the things people had placed in the ‘always wrong’ and ‘never wrong’ category. If someone had put homosexuality in ‘always wrong’ I would challenge them with a flurry of food for thought. If someone selected. ‘taking someone’s life’ as ‘always wrong’, I would talk about self-defence (and possibly euthanasia). If someone put abortion in the ‘never wrong’ category, I would ask them if it was still OK if someone had an abortion because they were expecting a girl and wanted a boy. Slowly, more cards would go into ‘it depends’ category.

This brings me to the point I would make in the training. We can possess our own individual moral framework that guides our decisions and behaviours and makes it clear what is right and what is wrong for us. (As long as we are on the right side of the law!) But is it right for us to impose the fine tuning of our own moral code onto others or to judge them if their values are different from ours - if the person's actions as a result of these values does no harm to the rights of others? For example, we might believe drinking alcohol is wrong - for us - but can we impose an alcohol ban on others? We might believe spending lots of money on clothes and make-up is wrong - for us - but can we really impose this on others? etc etc etc

The law outlines - in black and white terms – the things that are just ‘wrong’ - those things that years of civilisation has worked out are definitely not in anyone's best interests - like murder! And when it’s not clear whether what happened is wrong, a jury of twelve people spend a considerable amount of time deciding whether the action taken was wrong or not.

So really - who are we to judge?

P.S. I also find it ironic that religion frequently states that judgement is wrong, and yet I will find judgement sometimes comes straight out of religious doctrine. I'm glad to say, this is not always the case!

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Papier mache is my medium

Blog theme

Whenever I have spoken to anyone about blogs, the issue of 'theme' always comes up. It is always implied that for a blog to do well, it needs to have a clear and unique theme.

I am really not sure if my blog has an emerging theme unless it's something like 'random utterances from a fluid brain wiring' or 'creative amateur psychology with lighthearted breaks.'

Any suggestions?

However, if I were to have a theme I might:
• Get a photo of a stranger smiling – one per day – try and find out what made him or her smile
• Take a newspaper headline a day and write my own version of the story e.g. an optimistic, fairytale, alien, historical, meticulous detail, etc version
• Get the responses from a variety of strangers to the same question – one a day e.g. what could you never live without or if you ran a shop, what would it sell, if you had to eat one food all day, what would you choose?
• A photo and/or description of a different room a day e.g. people’s houses, shops, public building etc
• A random sentence from a book and illustrate it.
• Start a conversation with a stranger a day and write about it
• Read my horoscope and reflect on how true it was.
• A daily photo of something that changes over time e.g. my fridge, the park’s play area, a busy street, the sky
• A photo of a person, two things written that are true about them and one lie. Guess the lie.
• Self portraits from different people – words, cartoons, abstract pictures, paintings
• My favourite thing on sale in a variety of shops – photograph it and describe it.
• The day’s top irritation – elaborated and explored – a bit self indulgent and like ‘grumpy old women!’
• Find and photograph as many different representations of a particular object as I can find and where I found it e.g. a flower (on clothes in shops, on cards, in books, in church carvings etc. I think this would make me obsessive!
• Explore an unusual word a day. One I do not know the meaning of. Put it in a sentence, illustrate it, put it to use and describe the response it got!
• Photos with a figure of something hidden in it (e.g. the same small cuddly toy) for people to spot!
• I could go on.....!

Saturday, 28 November 2009


As is deemed good practice, after any training session, I dish out evaluations for participants to complete. Over the years, the feedback I have received has not so much informed my practice - only twice has feedback meant that I changed how I did something - but taught me about human nature.

From years of completed evaluations handed to me I have learnt:

1) Some people are optimistic and some are pessimistic. Some people expressive, some reserved. Whatever the session, the way the evaluation is completed usually tells me more about the person that filled it in than the training I delivered.
2) It would be hard to deliver the perfect session for everyone because people are so diverse. One person's favourite part of the day will be another's least favourite.
3) I never assume I have read a person's body language correctly. Many times people have sat stoney-faced with their arms folded and never made a contribution to any discussion only to go on to write the most positive and enthusiastic evaluation. I suspect this is just to do with introversion!
4) As a trainer, I only ever receive the criticism in the sea of compliments. That's a prevalent human behaviour. (I will add in an un-British way - I rarely get criticisms!)

I am a highly reflective practitioner and actually the evaluation that has most impact is my own - the one I do in my head after a session. And strangely, even when every written evaluation received has been startlingly positive, if I was dissatisfied with something - I will feel unsettled that evening!

So if you want advice on filling in an evaluation meaningfully, by all means give praise - everyone loves that, but if something wasn't for you, explain what you would have liked - suggestions not criticisms - and the trainer is far more likely to change his or her ways!

Friday, 27 November 2009

Helping people to move along the spectrum...

This is the spectrum I work with.......where ever I go, whatever the group...I coax them right...
That's my SRE training in a nutshell.

The death penalty....on my soap box...again.

Apparently 70% of the British public want the death penalty to return. I find this statistic remarkable. It's like a return to medieval times! Do people really want it?

A colleague at work recently handed me the autobiography of a prisoner who is serving a life sentence. She regularly works with prisoners and wondered if I could edit his story for him - which I did - despite the fact it was pretty well written already. My colleague does not know the reason for his detention and states she never wants to know this detail about any prisoner she works with as it means she's not even tempted to judge and she can take them on face value.

The prisoner's story was harrowing. He was abused from birth by his parents (cigarette burns and mutilations), and at the age of two, taken into care for more physical abuse, ridicule and sexual abuse (this was the early seventies). His childhood to the age of eight was absent of any love, guidance or even positive communication. After I had finished reading the story, the lasting impression was simply.....if a person is treated in such an inhumane way, is it really any surprise they sometimes go on to commit crime? Let's face it, you have to be pretty messed up (and/or have some pretty dodgy brain wiring) to take some one's life, for example.

Which brings me to my point, prevention is surely better than deterrence (if indeed the threat of execution is a deterrent - I don't think people that murder have the same value system or perception as most people do they?) For financial, political and, I guess, practical reasons, I know there is not enough targeted work happening to support our really vulnerable young people. Surely it would be better to devote money and effort to vulnerable children though than imprisoning or executing the adults they become later?

Only yesterday a teacher said to me, 'all this personal development and health stuff should be the responsibility of the parents'. I hear people say this regularly. My simple point in return is always, yes but many parents are not, themselves, capable of doing a good job, because they too were damaged by their childhood. This idea that 'people should just know better' is like saying, well you mess it up and suffer the consequences. We'll leave you to it then. Off you go...hands well washed. Where's the compassion in that?

Education, can, possibly, sometimes 'know better' - as at least a lot of people are considering how to get it right. For example, my parents were racist. I'm not. Education sorted me out.

I appreciate that I am an ambitious ideallist but I believe nearly everyone is capable of great good or great evil (and everything inbetween)- depending on the 'input' life has given them. Let's work at getting that input right.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

The odd funny story.....

With a job that is basically about persuading schools to teach sex ed, it probably does not surprise you to hear I have to have to wade through no end of innuendo, double entendres and funny euphemisms when training people. It's OK, I've become quite good at graciously pretending that I am hearing something for the first time. However, occasionally I am lucky enough to collect a gem of a true story.

Like this one told to me by a male teacher (a story, he said, the parent in it, had told him)......

An eight year old girl approached her mum and asked, 'Mum what does 'ejaculate' mean?' This was a mother who had sworn to herself that she would always answer her children's questions - whatever they were - openly and honestly. So she took a deep breath and, with the help of pen and paper, proceeded to explain what this term meant in great detail. The eight year old listened attentively.

At the end of the description, the mother put down her pencil and enquired,
'Does that answer your question?' to which the daughter replied with a slightly quizzical expression,
'Yes, but I'm not sure Anne of Green Gables would have done that.'

Having not read Anne of Green Gables, I can only imagine 'ejaculate' was used to refer to something being said - something blurted out.

The moral of the story is quite clear: always ask the child what they think the answer might be first.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

You can't give it away.............

I have a friend called Chris who could not be a better play buddy for me! We have our own wavelength. He's an unusual chap in many ways and very confident about not being mainstream (He lives in a wood). I suspect he will pop up on my blog several times as we have had so much fun together.

A couple of Christmases ago, Chris bought two empty advent calendars well in advance of December. I had one, he had the other and the idea was, we both filled the twenty four (approximately one cube inch) boxes for each other to open - as you would an advent calendar.

There was a paper-people chain (that went on and on), trick sweets, a treasure hunt start clue (that lead to a box of chocolates), a squashed up sponge person, a ‘keep off the grass sign’ on a lawn, a decision dice, many things I cannot remember now - even though we scored each day's offering out of ten. However, the single best box in both calendars was one Chris did for me: a box jammed full with twelve, one pound coins with the instructions, 'You must give away each of these coins to twelve different people that you do not know.’

This might sound easy, but it is not. Giving money away is so outside the behaviour of a ‘normal’ person that it arouses wary suspicion at best. I tried handing it to people randomly in Norwich city centre but most people refused the coin and more often than not my actions induced a scowl! In fact the only person that did receive a coin was a teenager whom I caught off-guard because his hand was sticking out and I managed to place the coin in it. He looked back at me once he realised what he was holding and my daughter (who was sat on the bench beside me) just smirked and said, ‘I know, crazy isn’t it?’ and the lad moved on.

I cheated a bit and put one coin in a busker’s stash. I put one on the ground of a busy street and sat nearby watching it but nobody picked it up, so I felt I had to reclaim it (rules are rules). After considerable time and effort on this task, I decided it was too difficult in a city centre and went home.

That evening, I went out to a regular Friday musical event in Jurnet’s Bar, Norwich. The event typically attracts musicians, artists and outcasts from the majority! I figured giving money away would be easy here. I was wrong. One middle-aged man was so offended he practically threw the money back at me. I thought explaining the reason for my actions would help, but it didn’t. He was still offended! ‘I don’t need your money,’ he forcefully insisted. I had clearly pressed a button of some kind - money is a potentially emotive issue for most of us, I know! I tried younger people but they too were reluctant to receive.

In the end, I resorted to giving the money away with an explanation about the advent calendar and the mission I had been set. People still looked at me as if I was completely unhinged, but, at last, they would accept the money. In fact, a couple of people even went on to smile and say, ‘thank you!’

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Go, go green!

Last night I was lucky enough to pop in on the launch of Adrian Ramsay’s (Green Party) election campaign at Dragon Hall, Norwich – not because I was invited but because my fellar was playing music there.

In the short time I was there I met two chaps from the Cambridge Vegan Society – one was chatty, friendly, upbeat and ‘connecting’, the other a little more distant and less engaging. When I did speak to the second man, he started lecturing me about meat consumption’s carbon footprint, the need to act now (‘it’s too late to take small measures’) and the need to think of our children’s future (pointing at my children). He was preaching to a semi-converted person but he managed to get my heckles up with his slightly forceful tone.

Which set me off thinking about behaviour change and how you could get people to ‘go green’? I know the hard facts alone do not work as this chap illustrated. In fact too many hard, fast and tragic facts seem to make people fatalistic. i.e. if it’s all gloom and doom, what’s the point of even trying?

I know from my field of work that behaviour change is a complex issue. Saving the environment will take a huge shift in social attitudes and - unfortunately – that rarely happens overnight.

I will take smoking as an example of a behaviour that can be changed – a far more simple issue than environment saving – but some of the 'changing behaviour' concepts might transfer across..

1) Highlighting the negative impact of smoking – this on its own does not seem to stop young people from smoking. The long-term health impacts seem too distant and therefore irrelevant to the person.

2) Highlight the benefits of not smoking – motivating towards and not motivating away – this is better! (see earlier blog)

3) Making giving up smoking easier by using nicotine replacement – this does help. Business (a very motivated force) is behind producing nicotine replacement therapies.

4) Highlighting non-smoking as a social norm – pointing out that most people do not smoke. This has an impact because if we perceive everyone else is doing something – we are more likely to.

5) Make people aware of the choice to smoke and not to smoke and discuss the reasons behind why each decision might be made with a view to acknowledging the ‘harder’ decision might have some negative impact but it is for the greater good - e.g. highlight peer pressure/influence, cost, impact on personal lifestyle, social acceptance, inconvenience etc

6) Change the law For example: no smoking in confined places. This appears to have stopped some passive smoking and some people might have given up because they can no longer smoke in a pub. Some people were up in arms about this law at first, but it appears to have been accepted (many people approve and those that don’t seem to understand why this law was appropriate for most indoor spaces) and policed with fairly strong penalties. Would this law alone stop a government from being re-elected?

7) Plan for change – willpower alone cannot always be relied upon to give up smoking. If people are aware of times when they would be vulnerable to reverting to smoking, they can plan to avoid these times or plan to find something to distract themselves.

8) Change the messages in the media – less smokers on TV, smoking not advertised, use positive role models

My conclusion about behaviour change for the benefit of the environment therefore is: don’t be too fatalistic about the state of the environment, make some laws that mean businesses develops some palatable green alternatives and make ‘green behaviour’ the attractive and perceived social norm using the media.

One last point: I also think that if this issue is only ever presented in global terms – it can be too overwhelming. Small steps that individuals have control over are far more digestible. As my fine chap put it to me over a decade ago, ‘I like to think that I will be responsible for causing as little damage as possible to this planet in my time on it.’

Monday, 23 November 2009

On the cheery note of funeral arrangements....

My dad died about a year and a half ago. There's much I could write about this but today I am focusing on funeral arrangements!

Before he died, he made it known to us who his solicitor was and that she held information about the funeral. I realise, in my not-quite-functioning-normally head at the time that I thought this meant he had outlined details about what he wanted his funeral to be like. It turned out, all the solicitor had was 'cremation'. I remember feeling a little disappointed at the time.

We made the arrangements for his funeral in a way that we partially thought he'd like but also with a clear idea of what we did not want: we had it outside amongst the pink rhododendrons, he was in a willow coffin, a silver hearse, the coffin bearers in ordinary suits, my mum, my sister, me and my brother all spoke (or had our words read by the humanist funeral chap). My brother's new-ish girlfriend by virtue of the fact she is Spanish, was asked to read some words a Spanish friend of my father's had sent (an ease-you-in-gently welcome to the family). My husband, my brother and brother-in-law all played live music. A little row broke out between my brother and mother because he wanted to play 'if I only had a brain' from the Wizard of Oz - the pertinence of which is too involved to explain here! It was the usual mixture of sombre poignancy and mirth!

However, as funerals are such cathartic experiences, I think it would have been even better if my dad's presence had been felt more through the arrangements made - i.e. his choice of music, his choice of coffin, his choice of words spoken etc. We did play a couple of tunes from a CD my dad had labelled 'special for me' that might have been a tentative effort on his part to influence the funeral in some way. But my point is: it's good to be present at your funeral other than silently in a box - so make some arrangements!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Look what my lovely chap lets me do to him

One day he'll go to a real hairdresser and they will ask (like they do), 'who HAVE you been letting cut your hair?' It's a good job he's not vain.

Advent calendar

For the last three years now, my husband has been lucky enough to have had an advent calendar made personally for him by me. This year is no exception and this is what it looks like on the outside (my best child-like art style):

However on the inside he will find an unusual mixture of things. (And in the unlikeliness of you reading this, Andy, avert your eyes now or risk spoiling the surprises)
For example:
• Single sock speed-dating
• A triffoloop (a strange looking creature)
• A ratty donkey
• An alien hatching pod
• Dragon dribble
• A man with an asteroid for a head
• A collapsed tepee
• A bronze bust of Toyah Willcox
• A waxy cotton bud
• His name written in urine in the snow
• Womble poo
• A flurry of punctuation
• A teapot graveyard
• A lady in red
• Etc – I can’t remember any more – so I will have to wait with excited anticipation alongside my husband. He must feel so loved.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Away with the fairies

I think I might possibly be the most away-with-the-fairies person that I think I know. My head is rarely in the moment (unless I am doing yoga) and I have an incredible capacity to not notice things - really NOT notice things in a way that people are shocked when they recount a description of something, someone, some place or the huge lorry blocking the road that I should have seen and nothing registers with me. Or when I turn up to work with clothes on inside out and/or back to front or the time I arrived at school aged 15 with odd shoes on.

Also, as a child I just could not hear stories. I was amazed when I realised others could and did. I never got beyond the first two sentences before my head was off in Wandering-wonderingsville. I still struggle a bit with the radio - but people don't believe me when I say that.

Now that my eyesight is getting a little long with age, I think the complete package makes me seem very special needs (forgive my dark side please). I am definitely on the Molly Potter spectrum and would love to meet someone else who was down my end and see how they survived.


A pondering that has welled up inside me recently.....

Does anyone EVER get good careers advice? All I remember was filling in a questionnaire at school when I was about 15 and the result produced that told me I should work for the Forestry Commission. Everyone that ticked the 'wouldn't mind working outside' box got that answer. I think it was of no use whatsoever.

I also know that I have only ever known about a tiny fraction of the jobs that exist out there. I knew about doctors, teachers, police, nurses, vets, train drivers, air traffic controllers (only because my dad was one), pilots (we lived near Gatwick) and shopkeepers and that was about it. I might have done something other than teaching, if something else had been suggested to me. Mind you, I have never seen 'Sex and Relationships Education Development Worker' on a list of careers and that's what I am now.

I also wonder whether it's good to train in something vocational early on (so you always have that to fall back on) or to wait and get to know yourself a bit better and then see which glove fits best or will this be different for everyone?

Surely one of the most important things in any one's life is to find a fulfilling job that channels an individual's skills and interest? Why do we not give more time and effort to educating young people to have an understanding of their individual talents and passions and suggesting suitable career routes? If we are meant to be giving young people aspirations - it would certainly be a good place to start!

Perhaps there is better careers advice out there now, but I haven't seen any evidence of it.

Friday, 20 November 2009


I took my son to 'hostipol' today for a small operation on his hand (sorting a trigger thumb). It is always weird to be a temporary visitor of those large, well-oiled (if not a little erratically maintained) places that are the coalface of hardcore health! You go to hospital to have babies, to watch people die and to hope to be mended - I guess they are bound to stir up some kind of emotion in everyone.

My son's right hand is fixed now, but it currently looks like he's about to go in a boxing ring...bless him!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Home-made cards

I love painting cards when I get the odd moment and I love experimenting with designs. However, clearly, I'm not very good at experimenting with colour. It's not that I don't like the red, orange yellow end of the spectrum, it's that I LOVE the purple, blue and green end and just can seem to break out!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The paranormal

I visited a school in south Norfolk about a month ago that the staff said (quite casually) was haunted by a headteacher that was raped and murdered in the bungalow next door in the 80s. Apparently the perpetrator was due to be released and paranormal activity had stepped up a gear in recent weeks. This had included the sound of someone pacing up and down, doors banging and keys turning round and round in locks. And - yes - the hairs on the back of my neck did stand up on end as we sat in what had been that headteacher's office.

So I returned to my office and recounted the tale to some colleagues. All I can say, is I have been surprised by how many people have a story of the paranormal. One colleague embarked upon a monologue about his childhood home. There were regular goings-on: strange shadows, baby crying noises and levitations. So much so that when he was offered the house later in life (for a bargain price) he declined. Another colleague started his story with 'I really do not believe in all that stuff but....I was walking from Reedham to Reedham Ferry late one evening when I heard loud footsteps clearly behind me. I turned but no one was there. I have since learnt it's notorious for hauntings and I certainly won't be walking down that stretch of road again on my own.' He had another story about a encountering a ghostly vision while walking his dog too.

Which brings me to Hingham!!! Apparently those with sensitivity to the paranormal cite Hingham as being a place full of paranormal activity, and unhappy activity at that. A scientist, that is ashamed of her ability to pick up on such strange activity avoids Hingham for this reason. I've been there and felt nothing, so clearly some of us can and some of us can't!

I think we can never be so arrogant as to think we know everything (we've still not worked out how everything came to exist, for example) my jury is definitely still out. Plus I secretly want to believe in anything out-of-the-ordinary.

And now for Norfolk's paranormal database.....

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Top Trumps

For a couple of months now I have been scattering home-made top trump cards, around Norwich, mostly around 'the Lanes'. I am not sure what I am trying to achieve but it certainly appeals to some sense of mischief and who knows - one day they might become as well known as the puppet man!

There are more than 160 different cards to collect if anyone is!

Monday, 16 November 2009

A paradox?

It's an order....


I am reading a book about neuro linguistic programming. So far there have been two ideas that have captivated my conceptual imagination.

The first is the idea that people can be motivated towards and motivated away from things. For example, a person can want to lose weight because they hate the way they look or because they want to be a picture of vibrant health. The former is motivation away, the latter motivation towards. Of course this can be applied to many things. A person might hate the job they do and be desperate to leave it (motivation away) or a person can apply for a job because it ticks all their boxes (motivation towards).

Motivation towards is, of course, better than motivation away. To be motivated towards something means we have to have a vision, an aspiration, a clear idea of what we definitely want. What's more, it's easier to find sustained motivation towards an arrival point as we remain motivated until we get there - especially if we are excited about the arrival. If we move away from something undesirable, I would imagine we can be satiated by a slight improvement and give up easily. I also think it's easy to know what we don't want (and you can see plenty of evidence of people knowing what they don't want in the form of moaning!) and perhaps that's why some people don't bother with motivating towards - it takes some imagination.

The other idea in the book that grabbed me was about creating goals. The book simply asked, if you were guaranteed success in anything you put your efforts into, what would you choose to do? This is basically saying, if we remove the fear of failure, what would you do? What a fantastic way to create dreams!

I am only on page 5.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Must make a plan

I woke up this morning all fired up, with a huge list of things I was determined to get done. However, I did only one of the things on my list and several other things that I had not planned to do at all (including collecting 65 medium sized pebbles off a beach - part of a plan I have already abandoned!)

Getting distracted is my forte.

And this is a debate I have with myself all the time. Would it be better to be a person that makes plans and sticks to them or is it OK to be a person that makes plans and writes lists but then ignores the plans and never finds the list again? Don't get me wrong, I get things done with scarily bullish determination sometimes - but whatever it is is the result of a whim, never a long term plan!

Flexibility versus determination.
Focus versus expansion.
Direct route or wandering aound!
It's a hard call!

P.S. The one thing I did that was on my first-thing-this-morning plan was line some huge velvet curtains. This is something I never planned to be able to do in life - I think I can work out how to do this kind of thing because of a huge dollop of spacial awareness. If I had my life again - I would strike that off my list of talents and add being able to juggle with four balls.

I did feel like Felicity Kendall today though.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

My favouite places to go for a walk in Norfolk

Having spent a few years now dragging small children around the countryside (they WILL enjoy it), we realise we have quite an extensive list of short, mostly circular, mostly off-road walks in Norfolk.

In no particular order:
• Earthwork circle at Warham near wells - atmospheric
• Wolterton Hall - feels spacious, nice walk round the lake
• The network of footpaths around Saxlingham Nethergate (derelict church adds atmosphere)
• Castle Acre – steep!
• The network of footpaths around Shotesham –very open
• Hockering Wood - better than Foxley Wood for bluebells, great small leafed lime trees (lloks like a wood you would find Little Red Riding Hood in) and have never met another person there!
• Whitlingham – woods and broad
• The Roman Villa – Caister – handy for Norwich and good for blowing the cobwebs away on a windy day!
• Foxley Wood – especially when all the bluebells are out
• Ashwelthorpe Wood – small but pretty
• Surlingham Broad – there are lots of walks along this bit of the Yare. Good circular walk past Ted Ellis’ grave!
• Trimingham Beach – have a whole beach to yourself - usually

• Stockhill wood near Long Stratton
• Footpaths near Rockland St Mary
• Around Wymondham Abbey
• Walks around Kimberley Hall – particularly in autumn – loads of conkers!
• Footpath network (and orchard) near Wreningham
• A circular footpath around Cantley Sugar Beet factory - eerie when the ‘campaign’ is on
• Reedham – from quayside to church along the old railway line
• Footpaths around Filby (from the church) – pretty windmill!
• How Hill
• Marsham Heath - undulating, woodland, heath and fields
• Footpath network around Ittringham
• Heydon Hall

• Walks around river at Oxnead
• Cley
• Circular route around footpaths Colton – pass through a nice wood
• A circular walk from Ringland village (and some of Ringland wood – not the car crematorium bit!)
• Network of footpaths near Swannington
• Burgh Castle near Yarmouth – great views across marsh
• Earlham and Rosary cemeteries
• Sheringham Park - beautiful and varied

Now my kids are growing, give me a few years and the next composition will be, slightly longer walks to bore teens.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Charter for Compassion

Charter for Compassion

Emotional Literacy

Emotional literacy = awareness and appropriate management of your emotions (including difficult ones)

Emotional literacy did not exist as a term - let alone a concept - when I was a child and it is apparent that the SEAL curriculum (social and emotional aspects of learning - a curriculum funded by the government) in schools has taught a lot of teachers some basic tools of emotional literacy alongside the children. Those that have bought into it and don't say things like, 'isn't this all just too much navel gazing?' and 'kids just need to toughen up' that is. (Yes being hit, never listened to and having orders regularly shouted at me did wonders for my resilience).

The idea that emotions are emotions and you can't stop (and shouldn't stop) yourself from feeling them but that you do have a choice about how you behave in response to what you are feeling is a simple but extremely helpful concept! SEAL also helps children to identify different emotions and link them to their likely cause. I know adults that cannot do this!

Most of us were brought up on emotional repression (especially blokes) and public displays of emotion can still cause incredible discomfort. We were taught to 'be in control' of our emotions at all times. That actually meant we were meant to deny them. All that stifling, blocking and repression - no wonder it bursts out occasionally in highly inappropriate and out-of-control ways (added to the fact that boys are often conditioned to believe that anger is the only acceptable male emotion to display).

I am all for the SEAL curriculum. I think it's giving a lot of children and young people incredible self-awareness. When done properly (i.e. linked to the whole school ethos with all adults in school being role-models for what is taught etc) then SEAL can have a hugely benefical impact upon all the interactions in a school.

My favourite SEAL story was one a headteacher told. She had been using SEAL for a few years and said that the emotional literacy of the children attending her school far outstripped that of the children's parents/carers. She said she realised this was really the case when she witnessed a Year 2 (6 year old) pupil skip up to her mother - who was clearly angry about something - and say, 'mum I can see you're very angry, but can we sit down and talk about it?'

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Poo Poem

My brother once had a poo poem in his toilet. I could only remember the first line of his but I used it to start mine. It's his concept I nicked. He's got bags of great concept.

What an honour: to be the inspiration of poo poem II.

Poo Poem

Big ones, little ones
Ones that wedge the loo
Squidgy ones, firm ones
Ones that smell like a zoo
Deep brown, light brown
Ones that take time to come
'One wipe and go' ones
Ones that smudge on your bum
Sweetcorn ones, carrot ones
Ones that stick to the bowl
Jolly bad hangover ones
That squit out from your hole
Regular ones, strained ones
Ones that need a nice smelling spray
Ones propelled by wind
That mean you won't want to stay
Morning ones, evening ones
Ones you do around noon
Ones that make little skid marks
The ones that come to soon
Quiet ones, noisy ones
Unashamed ones done in the boys
Discreet ones done by ladies
Toddlers ones that double as toys
Floating ones, sinking ones
Ones done in a nappy
Ones that feel uncomfortable
Ones that make you happy
Ones that take you seconds
Ones where you forget what you're doing
Sitting on your lonesome
Oh the joys of pooing

and then I wrote it out for someone's toilet and he put it opposite a picture of Mary (Jesus' mum) so I had to write this disclaimer....

While it is fully understood that Molly Potter (hereafter referred to as the author) has produced and given a poo poem (hereafter referred to as the work) to one Tim Mills (hereafter referred to as PB) absolutely no responsibility can be taken by the author for any offence the work might cause. Indeed, liability thereupon of receipt of the work passes entirely to PB for any such offence. In fact many people would say that the responsibility for possible offence has been enhanced by the positioning of the said poem in such close proximity of a pictorial representation of Madonna and Child. This was never, and would never be the intention of the author due to its blasphemous undertones thereof not ever indulged because the author is a good girl and never would want to deliberately cause offence unless she encountered a particularly obnoxious person by which she might mean someone who failed to see the humour in everything and took things so seriously that even a poo poem could not crack a smile. Indeed such a line as ‘toddlers ones that double as toys’ or ‘ones where you forget what you’re doing’ taken from the work should be able to crack a smile in the most serious of folks. If it did not produce said response then the author would be inclined to say that such a person would be unlikely to be her friend and she might even say that she was pleased that she, or PB’s positioning of said work had actually caused offense. Not that the author is nasty or anything. The author just thinks that laughter and Tom Foolery is an important part of a well rounded human being – whether they are religious and sensitive to actions that could be perceived as blasphemous or not. And there, is completed, a disclaimer.

Omly it looked like this...

Secret best friend

I first encountered the idea of having a secret best friend at Green Man Camp in Tuttington, Norfolk. Shortly after arriving, everyone pulled out the name of the person at the camp that they were to anonymously 'spoil' all week. Not being one to do this kind of thing by halves, my secret best friend was treated to:
• A poo poem (see next blog)
• A set of creative tasks to complete
• A story –Sharon and the seven hippies
• A green man mask
• A ‘wanted poster’ publicly displayed and outlining his crimes
• A thought-sorter with instructions (turn the handle and it sorts your thoughts)
• A strangely decorated book mark – he was reading when I first found out who he was
• A beer
My SBF also happened to be a pretty great bloke called Papa Bear and all gifts were received as intended.

I extended this idea last year to replace the usual secret Santa at work - that for me - is always an anti-climax. For one week very close to Christmas, our team of seven, anonymously sent hot drinks, treats, small gifts, treasure hunts etc to each other. We also involved other people in the building to help carry out deliveries and provide distrations. Some of us became quite skilled at being devious.

Of all the things I did for my Christmas SBF, my favourite was placing more and more rubber ladybirds on and around her computer as the week went on so that by the end she was overrun with an infestation. What's more, there wasn't a single ladybird that I positioned without significant giggling.

Mine's a small, and easily amused mind.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009


What a funny idea - me writing a blog about housekeeping. As you know, I'm all pinnies, Ajax and rubber gloves.

I am actually referring to that boring bit at the beginning of a conference or training day where you tell people where the toilets are, what the lunch arrangements are, what to do in case of a fire (and if there are any drills planned) and where to go and have a cigarette if you smoke. Yawn, yawn yawn. To be honest, wouldn't it be ever-so-slightly more interesting just to let people find out for themselves.

Well today, I made a few lame jokes along the lines of 'if there's a fire - get out, if you need to smoke get out'. Ha, ha, ha. Rip roaring. But if my more sensible colleagues had not been present (my adjective 'pile of poo' got a frown today), I would love to really spice things up:

Dressed in a blue and white hostess outfit with long white gloves, a white paper hat secured with several kirby grips and a mouth painted with bright red lipstick, I would stroll into the room and stand symetrically at the front, feet slightly apart and hands on hips. I would say in a very camp yet authoritative voice, using appropriate gestures,

'All your orifice needs will be more than amply met today. We have provision for all things going in and coming out and we hope you will be more than satisfied with the quality of service. Thank you for your attention,' and then leave the room.

A bit 'carry on' but in my opinion, there simply isn't enough tomfoolery in the world.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Photo scavenger hunt

For my 40th birthday I had a 1 p.m. to accidentally 3 a.m. barbecue. It started very civilised and ended with us dragging an 18 year old lad off the street and persuading him not to join the army. (A celebration is never complete - I find - unless a stranger has been made to participate).

Always being one to feel like I need to provide entertainment, I produced a treasure hunt for the children and a photo scavenger hunt for anyone. A map illustrated the route on which the scavenger hunt was to be completed.

I need to clarify - I didn't make anyone do the scavenger hunt, it was optional and a few glass-starts of beer in (I kept losing them), I had forgotten all about it. However, two teams did eventually stumble across the instructions and participated. These are the photos they were asked to scavenge:
A photo ..

• with all ‘team’ members’ heads and a chimney in the picture
• that is a picture for an advert – doesn’t matter what you’re advertising
• of a picture of a fish made by things you have found (e.g. leaves, litter..etc)
• of one team member hugging a checkout person
• of some of the team sitting on a post-box
• of two strangers hugging
• of the team clearly doing OR not doing something a sign is telling you to do
• that is the album cover
• of a silly sign you chalked somewhere (chalk provided)
• of you looking shifty and like you are about to steal a car
• of all of your feet on an interesting and/or unusual background
• of you all pretending to be statues
• of the team in front of a red door
• of you all clearly using playground equipment incorrectly
• that’s the still of a road safety clip

Both teams completed the whole scavenge and these were my favourite photos of the ones they took. (It should be obvious which of the above photos they are!?!?)

Monday, 9 November 2009

I often meet crazy headteachers

Today I met, for the second time, one of the many crazy headteachers in the world. Of course you have to be a little mad to undertake a job of such scope, with ridiculous stress levels and little thanks, but most masquerade as reasonably sane. Me - I love the overtly mad ones.

This particular character looks like a cross between Barry Manilow and Willy Wonker. He said many randomly bizarre things but my favourite of all he said today was:

"The animal kingdom have got a lot right - I mean they are not destroying the planet in the way we are, but you have to ask - do they do music like us humans do? When animals are making their music, it's either to say get away from my territory or come over to my place - if you know what I mean. I am a big fan of music - human music that is."

Long may he be in charge of impressionable little minds.

Saturday, 7 November 2009


There is a place in Norfolk called Fustyweed
Officially, it's just a hamlet........

A terrace of five small houses sit some distance back from the only road. Smoke from the five little chimneys zigz zags into the sky. The doors and window frames are haphazardly painted orange, purple, red and green. The front gardens are brimming with stunningly beautiful flowers: mostly noddydil, fraf and craggleweed. Silver and gold fluttifol buzz around them collecting gliff to make their glittery crunnyplop (which is sold in jars from a table at the roadside).

All of the houses are kept perfectly maintained with the exception of number four. Minky Flupp who lives there says she spends far too much time granting wishes to bother with keeping her house shipshape. Her neighbours don't mind, as long as she grants them a wish now and then.

Jiggy Paloozeville at number three keeps yickins. The yickins lay the most delicious eggs with a yoke so deeply purple few can resist. He willingly shares the produce with his neighbours and most mornings the fruity aroma of freshly poached yickin eggs wafts around the terrace.

People tend not to call round to number five because its resident: Professor Batty Baffookink conducts science experiments there. The one time Minky knocked on the door, it was answered by a squealing green and brown slimey mass. It took Minky some time to recover even after she had learned that the sight was just Batty covered in Harpypoo Sulphate after a tuttyfragwill experiment had blown up. Even so, these days everyone prefers to wait for Batty to come to them.

The eldest Fustyweed occupant lives at number one. At four-hundred and forty two, Neg Keg is filled with memories. So many, in fact, that he has to have them regularly removed by Chiffle Lacey-Trickle-Doot who conveniently lives next door. The removal process uses a bespoke machine that Chiffle invented. The machine has many cogs, several springs, a few sparking wires, two glass tubes and a large wooden memory vat. A wriggling hose-like attachment (tailored to Neg's spikey head) sucks out twenty year's worth of memories at a time. With the relief this provides, Neg can go back to filling his head up with new memories. These memories mostly come from his time on the wirrity field playing tuffball.


I received and e mail from suggesting a Charles Harvey Potter 23rd March 1931 - 8th May 2008 might be linked to my family tree. I have researched my genealogy and have drawn up quite an extensive family tree and I think I might have struggled had I failed to identify my own father!

Still I guess he's well and truly and ancestor now!

Friday, 6 November 2009


What would be the best compliment a friend could pay you?(I explore this as a lighthearted activity with adults).

If you can't think of anything - which of the following would you most like to hear someone say to you.

You are kind
You are witty
I always enjoy being with you
You are good at art
You always cheer me up
You are easy to talk to
You have a great imagination
You are really helpful
You are a stylish dresser
You are really interesting
You are a very unusual person
Your advice is always great
You are generous
You are good at writing
Everyone likes you
You are so clever

What I have learnt from doing this activity:

1) It's funny because this is truly different for every person.

2) Some people, really, really cannot receive compliments. It's linked to very poor self esteem.

3)Most of us appear to like to be complimented about things we already feel truly proud of because it means someone has noticed a quality we allow ourselves to believe we genuinely possess. Also, if we have managed to muster up some pride in something, we appear to be more likely to properly receive the compliment as opposed to brushing it off as insincere. It's a good feeling when someone has actually noticed that we are good at something, because not many people appear to be looking!

4) We are tuned to hear the one criticism in a sea of compliments. Everyone knows this but it's still tragic! Is that cultural, perfectionism or human nature?

5) One person's compliment can be another person's insult. It's all in the receiving! Take, 'you are against the grain.' I was told that by someone and took it as a compliment. They meant it as an insult!

6) We are not generally a nation that is good at giving and receiving well-considered compliments.

What are you going to do about it?

Thursday, 5 November 2009

My son in the compost bin

One of my favourite photos.

Kids are great aren't they!
P.S We didn't really compost him.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Restorative or punitive

Some schools in Norfolk (and the police!!) are training their staff in restorative practice. What this means is that professionals are enabled to mediate and solve disagreements by finding a solution that is palatable to all parties in any conflict situation. Needless to say, this involves a whole load of communication.

This seems like a massive shift in fundamental philosophy from when I was at school - when anything that rattled the status quo was challenged by automatically dishing out a punishment. (The conflict being identified as a pupil not doing what the teacher said s/he must do). Now being the hippie I am, I completely approve of restorative practice! Unfortunately, however, attitudinal changes like this don't happen overnight or pervade the whole of society!

I have had debates with many people about which works better - the consequence of a punishment to clearly show something is wrong or time dedicated to listening to all parties to attain understanding and the best way forward. I am surprised by how many people think a simple punishment to match a crime is obviously the answer - no debate. However, I have also seen first hand, as a teacher, how a punishment might suppress a behaviour but not change the underlying issues that caused it in the first place. Restorative practice might have more chance of doing this.

The following example of behaviour suppression was once used in some training I attended to illustrate this point. For those of us that sometimes venture over the speed limit, when we drive past a speed camera, we slow down. Once past the camera, most of us then forget to take notice of our speed (especially if we are late). Our behaviour is suppressed momentarily but our underlying attitude has not been altered (i.e. we still think it's OK to speed a bit).

However, if I was shown the potentially devastating impact of speeding and made to reflect on it - my undelying attitude might change and I might consistently modify my behaviour because of my changed belief.

I might take this example further though. If I was going to be fined for speeding and I couldn't afford it, it might slow me down. If I had nine points on my liscence and risked losing it by speeding, I might slow down. So maybe the threat of the right punishment might suppress behaviour in order to keep the roads safe for everyone. Perhaps punishment should be renamed a preventative consequence, be made very clear and hopefully never have to be issued.

So preventative measures (in the form of a possible punishment) could be appropriate to help clearly define undesirable behaviour. This alongside helping people to change their attitudes to elicit desirable behaviour might just be the answer.

That's that sorted then. I am off to my attitude change class now.....

Estate agents are......?

We're looking to move...nightmare stuff! Don't ask me about it! We might get there one day but this viewing didn't help......

Recently we went to look at a house that seemed like quite a bargain. I met a neighbour on the way in who informed us that the old man who had lived there had died. That wouldn't bother me. She also wished me good luck (which seemed a slightly odd thing to say!) Upon entering, a terrible smell hit us but it was covered up a bit by a lot of mustiness. The estate agent rushed to open the back door to let some air in.

Looking into the first room it was instantly apparent that the estate agent was showing us around before the house clearance had removed everything (which seems a little eager on the estate agent's part) but sader still, the house looked as if the owner had just popped out. His gardening shoes were parked by the back door, his glasses were on his bedside table and there was some washing up still in the sink...with some pretty manky water over it. There were frilly ornaments and plastic flowers that implied there had been a wife at some point. He had a clothes brush set hung upon the hall wall engraved with 'AA Stone 1958'. His toothbrushes and shaving foam were all ready to use. It was a dead man's life museum and it felt poignantly sad.

I asked the estate agent if the man had died in the house, to which he replied, 'people don't tend to die in their houses now - they go to hospital.' (eyes right, eyes left, hand scratches ear, looks at feet).

I have since been informed that the man did indeed die in the house (probably downstairs as the beds were all made (I don't think body removers make beds) and was not discovered for about a week.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

My job

My job is basically helping schools to develop PSHE (personal, social and health education) but I orignally just focused on SRE (sex and relationship education). I have learnt heaps doing this job. I have not been so interested in the factual knowledge I have acquired but more about people's attitudes and reactions to anything relating to sex. I find it bizarre to think that here we are in the 21st century and most of us are still uncomfortable talking about sex (or come to that, body parts). In fact I think we are getting worse - the 80s threw up HIV and people felt they had to tackle that. Now people seem to want to avoid it all again!

We seem to have two (possibly three)approaches to sex in this country: the first is that of absolute repression - don't mention it AT ALL - it's filthy! But many people can suddenly convert to the second approach within seconds with the right trigger: carry on smutting (not a word I know) which is about excessive giggling at any hint of suggestion of sex with a generous seasoning of innuendo. (The possible third is an innappropriate break-out from the repression - where some people engage in sexual practices that can actually hurt and are dangerous.)

The Dutch view our attitude towards sex as completely strange. They take sex very seriously. They say that realistically young people will always have sex (as opposed to some people in this country believing they can be scared out of ever having it). This means we need to make sure that the sex they have is 1) safe, 2) with someone they trust 3) in an appropriate place 4) something they are sure they won't regret etc. In fact the Dutch give their young people sexual aspirations (How dare they - I can hear the Daily Mail already). They teach their young people to aim high so they are far less likely to put up with a terrible sexual encounter. In the UK we leave our young people to flounder around clueless because people are so unwilling to even bring the topic up - let alone have meaningful discussions about it. No wonder they make mistakes and have sex 'in a graveyard next to a dead fox' (14 year old quote)!

When I talk to parents/carers I start by asking them,
'When it comes to sex and relationships, what do we NOT want for our children?' This produces a list that highlights clearly that sex is a potentially dangerous business. So is crossing the road - but we teach kids to do that safely.

I fully understand that this is all simply a question of repression perpetuating repression but when I have stood in front of parents for an hour or so and given them the common sense angle and removed their irrational 'gut reaction' I regularly witness adults do a 180 degree turn in attitudes towards talking to young people and children about sex.

I am still driving round Norfolk trying to de-prude it. One step forward, two steps back. I doubt I alone can achieve such a momentous change in attitudes but I am learning a lot trying!!!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Friendship Application

I met a young woman at a hippie camp I went to this summer. I bumped into her again a few weeks later. A couple of days after that, she sent me a CD of her quirky music and a letter explaining that she thought I was cool and would like us to be friends. (Yes it happens to me ALL the time). In response to this I sent her a Molly Potter friendship application form via my PA who also happens to be called Molly Potter and lives inside my body. OK so the friendship application form had questions on it like what colour would you have grass be if it wasn't green, give this monster a name, what is your fairy name etc
(in fact this has continued and she has since returned the form (wonderfully filled in, with an imaginative CV accompanying it), I have set her a treasure hunt to find the friendship codeword (S-P-E-C-T-A-C-U-L-A-R) using a local shopping centre and including one clue that meant she had to walk into an estate agents and declare she wanted to buy a house for £50, set her some more creative tasks and she has now set me a task (I stated this was the next stage) to complete and illustrate a story poem - the prompt for which is the start and end and some other potty bits! We should be separated.

Anyway. It set me to wondering. If you did really have a friendship application form. What would you have on it?

Topics on mine would include: humour, ability to forgive, open-mindedness, upness for fun, talent in initiating quirk....

Experiential learning

There's that well-known saying that you remember 10% of what you hear, 30 % (or so!) of what you see but 90% of what you do. So that got me to thinking. What DO I actually remember from my primary education. By that I mean in the actual lessons. (There's a whole heap of stuff I remember about being mischievous and getting into trouble but that would take too much time to report!!!)

OK My first ever class I remember I copied Allison Charman because I didn't understand what I was meant to do and the teacher made us both do it all again. This was somewhat tough on poor Allison. It was something to do with the alphabet but the lasting impression was being caught for copying. I guess that doesn't count as a meaningful learning experience.

The second class. I remember singing. The class next door came in and sat on our desks and we sang. I mostly remember our jokes about sniffing the table after the other class had left and making jokes about their smelly bottoms. I don't remember the songs. Again - not the learning that was intended.

In the next class my only slight learning memory was putting up my hand to say I could tie Colin Bailey's shoelaces for him because I thought I had worked out how to do them. But I hadn't. Oh and the teacher in that class used to pull down the boy's trousers and smack their bare bottoms. How was I meant to learn anything with that going on?

The following year we grew mustard and cress but because I was naughty the teacher said I couldn't and took mine away from me. However, the rest of the class thought this was unfair and clubbed together to muster up some blotting paper and some seeds for me. That was a great lesson in friendship and team work but the teacher hadn't anticipated that as a learning objective.

A year older and the only memory was the teacher shouting at me for 'wishing it was January because that's when I move house and get my own bedroom.' She screamed (while the rest of the class looked on in silence), 'Just think what you are wishing away...Christmas, the school play, and presents. Why would you wish all that away? Silly child.' She had a point but it was a little lost on me; I had a huge wound to lick.

I was about ten years old and my newly qualified teacher spiced up the one lesson of hers that I remember. She presented the class with an empty tin and asked one person stand at the front of the class, hold it and imagine something inside it. The rest of the class had to guess what was in it by asking questions. The teacher jotted down many of the things we all said in carrying out the task, onto the board. That bit grabbed my attention and I was fully engaged until we had to add speech marks to the text she had written in the appropriate place.

The next teacher's reputation was 'fierce'. I think ''dull' could have also been an apt adjective but children rarely see past the fear when it's real. I remember nothing of her lessons. However, the teacher in the next class took us for science and delivered a 'carousel' of science experiments - six experiments for groups of five to rotate around over the course of six weeks. Of course we all knew every detail of every experiment by the end of the first lesson. We also knew which one was most interesting: a machine that spun a multi-coloured disc around to prove that all the colours added together made white. I still know that.

The last year of primary school did deliver a teacher with some imagination. I remember a few lessons. A debate about the most important word in the English language which turned out to be 'why'. I didn't like that she had a pre-prepared answer. I thought she really believed we could find the answer together...learning alongside each other.

I also remember her letting me set the class a puzzle. It was one I had found in a book. You had to guess what was odd about the paragraph that I painstakingly wrote on the board. The answer was it contained not a single letter 'e' - the most common letter in the English language. I remember this activity because I lapped up haivng the power of knowledge nobody else had! Something I haven't had since!!! Now that couldn't really be described as a teacher impactly directly on my learning.

I remember the poem 'Twas brillig and the slythy toathes, did gyre and gimble in the wabe.. What a great poem. We could have drawn and labelled a picture for the poem, we could have made our own nonsense poem...but no, we just learnt it by rote. Still I remembered it!

And a school trip to Bath with a treasure hunt-that was the pinnacle of my primary school existence. My imagination, my rising to a challenge, the thrill of doing something unusual, walking around bath in groups without adult supervision...I was captivated. As good as it week in 1980.

With that as my list, it really does beg an answer to what the point of education is. Is lifelong learning about building upon a well laid foundation of early education? If so, I think I am stuffed!

Reminiscent smell of fags

I was outside a supermarket parking my bike when I received a full frontal blast of cigarette smoke from someone having a fag break. Strange but it took me straight back to fun times in the pub a few years ago. They say smell is the sense most strongly linked to memory but with it being a rare thing to smell these days, it's funny to think that such a choking smell will cause people to reminisce!!!!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Just because everyone is doing something doesn't make it right

Have you heard the story (I can't remember who originally told it) which starts with a man sitting on a bench on a gorgeous sunny day in a beautiful park. He sits and laps up the rays until a huge bloke comes along and stands in from of him, blocking the sun from his face. The man shuffles along the bench to get out of the man's shadow but as he does the large man moves along to block his sun again. This carries on until eventually the man trying to enjoy the sun starts to get angry:
"Why are you doing this? Stop it."
But instead of the large fellar leaving him to enjoy the sunshine, he continues to cast a shadow over him.

When the man looks around, he see many other people sitting on benches with a large person stood nearby in such as way that the sun is blocked. What's more, they are looking at him disapprovingly for making such a fuss. He eventually quietens down and puts up with his lot!

Sometimes we conform without questioning too readily. Just because everyone else is doing something doesn't mean it's the right or best thing to do.

Another D & D activity

Imagine you have just walked into a newsagent. You go to the till to pay for your newspaper. The person in front of you is paying for two chocolate bars by counting out a load of small change. They also have a ten pound note in their hand. Their coins fall short of the full price by 1p. They turn to you. You have 1p.

So there is a need - albeit a very slight one.

NoW don't consider whether you would or would not help the person...that's another activity.

Whom from the following list do you think you would most instinctively want to help?

• A businessman in a suit
• A scruffy alternative looking young female
• A person with very poor English
• A woman with several children

Have you thought?

You see the funny thing is...even with this little amount of information, most of us can make some assumptions about these people. We have hardwiring that makes us unconsciously assume things about people based on whatever (however little) we know about them.

What are we like! That's rhetorical.

Difference and diversity

I recently went to London to deliver an interactive presentation on Difference and Diversity for the PSHE CPD leads (people leading the national qualification in Personal, Social and Health education) - showcasing activities I use with teachers to help them broach D & D and inclusion issues in school. The bottom line is about helping children and young people to stop seeing difference as alien, strange and 'not like us' and helping them to see diversity as interesting and 'something worth getting to know.' This makes it sound really straightforward - but there are a range of forms of 'anti-diversity' -from blatant discrimination to more subtle forms. This is a tool I have used with teachers to explore the varied forms of anti-diversity. I give them examples from resources and the media and ask them to match up the type of anti-diversity with the example. e.g. "some of my best friends are gay".

In Thai!

On the left - my book 'Outside the Box' by Molly Potter in English...on the Thai. I do wonder how well the concepts travel across the two cultures.

I'm not a Myers Briggs Fanatic!!

What a lie.

O.K. I know people....
hate to be pigeon holed - (especially Fs)
or things that pry into their psyche (especially Is)
or they consider psychology too woolly to be a proper science (espcially Ts)
or they cannot see its applications (especially Ss)
or dislike the idea that there are so few ways to categories a person (especially Ps)
but I think any tool that helps with self-awareness can only deliver a dollop of helpful learning if we are prepared to receive it.

All that unconscious stuff we project into the world is one thing but Myers Briggs is a simple starting place to work out what makes a person tick.

There are four spectra and every individual sits somewhere on it - by preference. We struggle if we find ourselves in a situation (in a job, socially, through our parents' style of parenting)that forces us to exist outside our preference. We can doubt our strengths and fail to understand why others just don't 'get us'.

Obviously this is likely to happen more to those that exhibit strong preferences...with strong preferences comes talents, but also blind spots.

I could ramble on forever about the lessons I have learnt through Myers Briggs but I know my strong ENFP preference tends to make me too enthusiastic and overbearing for some - so I am not making the horse drink, or even dragging it to the water...find out for yourself and I guarantee it will 'speak' to you if you have ever felt like a social misfit!!!!!!!

Mid-life crisis - what's it all about?

It's contradictions having a frenzied battle in your head for 2-3 years.....

  • Finding some meaning in the context of realising that it is all actually meaningless
  • Developing apathy at the same time as panicking because you can see/feel life is finite
  • Questioning how to cut out inane stuff but being drawn to it at times
  • Debating a complete change in direction but nothing appealing very much
  • A feeling no amount of articulation depletes
  • Hoping that it is a storm that just needs to be ridden and that one day, one will wake up and just feel settled inside!!!
  • Looking for an answers that probably doesn't exist

    I am guessing it amounts to finding pleasures in small things, making people happy, using creativity, learning and teaching...but not feeling it ...yet!
  • xxxxx