Textbooks Hits the Road

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So getting fit has always been a thing for me- though definitely not in any kind of dieting way. I was brought up on take aways and ready meals and, amazingly, managed to keep a nice size 6/8 body. In fact when I was looking for my dress for my year 11 prom I managed to slither into a size two… seriously, SIZE TWO!

But let’s move to the present. Now I’m comfortably size 12, around 63kg and spend my life sitting in the library or standing behind a counter at work. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate my body in any sort of way. I just feel like a slob…

Now I’m refocusing on my running. My main focus in long distance: 5km and 10km road races. I’ve already said that I’ve signed up for the Great Manchester Run in May 2014 for the NSPCC. Now I’m signing up for the Preston 5km with the aim of fully running it and also beating my 30:50 PB (personal best).

To do this I’m doing something scary. Yesterday I actually woke up at 5am, when I was starting work at 8am, and went for a run. Considering my knee hadn’t fully recovered I decided to take it slow and short, though by my standards it was pretty normal. I walk-ran about a mile and a half. I plan to do this every other morning, at least three times a week but I doubt I’ll suddenly improve in a short period of time.

Essentially my aims are simple:

Sub 25 minute 5km
Sub 60 minute 10km

Let’s see how this works…

Teachers: The belief and motivation system

So right now I’m just waiting for the final few of my housemates to leave for a night out before I go to sleep. I’m taking a rain check on this one, mainly due to lack of funds and energy! So because of that I’m tucked up in bed while they’re in deep discussion.

They’re debating the smarts of people who go to private school and those who go to public school.

Half of the remaining few are from Australia which, they claim, boasts what sounds like a relatively high average of privately educated children. While the remaining few, who are British, were publically schooled- like myself. However they’re talking about the academic strengths of an individual going to either- naturally it would be assumed that privately educated kids are smarter while publically schooled children may not be so. Going along with this train of thought it’s easy to back up, the typical cultural capital a child who gets sent to private school (e.g. finance, social awareness) is much higher. This means that their parents will push upon them the importance of education, the after affects, and they will have more personal resources. Meanwhile a publically schooled individual is typically from a less well off family, which could mean less resources at home and less encouragement from their family network.

Personally I agree with this if you take it at first sight. The study I did for my dissertation supported that cultural capital is still very much one of the biggest factors in one’s education. However pushy parents can also dissuade ambition or cause rebellion. And sometimes a kid just isn’t that naturally academic, maybe they prefer sports or art.

Instead I feel it’s the teachers who have the most influence, negative or positive, as opposed to the school or the parents. Apart from their family, a child’s teacher is typically the imain regular adult they will see in their day to day lives.

Now I don’t mean throw a genius in to teach primary school maths, I highly doubt a bunch of 7/8 year olds would find Einstein amusing in the least. But while being at camp, and working in other settings, I’ve quickly come to realise there are born teachers. Individuals who walk into a classroom and bring inspiration and motivation as cliche as that sounds!

Of course the same teacher won’t work on an entire classroom of 30, or 100 or so kids in a year group. And that’s why there should be flexibility in the curriculum and delivery. This would allow for the teacher to adapt to the needs of the children for the best possible development of, hopefully, the majority.

Think back to your childhood- did you get inspired by a teacher? Are you in fact a teacher yourself?

British vs Americans

Everyone can relate to a stereotype in some sort of way, whether it’s personal, insulting, flattering (unlikely!) Or simply relatable. Being in America has especially emphasised this for me!

I remember last year when I befriended a few exchange American exchange students. One of them struck with as a cheerleading, soroity president kind of girl. She was clearly well off, petite, wore extensions, and spent hours getting ready. The stark truth was she was a med student who had a passion for playing soccor and would never dream of paying to be part of a soroity. In turn, she was bemused at our lack of “snobbiness”, though she was in Lancashire afterall.

Today those stereotypes popped up again in the local laundry-mat. I’d gone in to check how our washing was drying and a kindly gentleman grabbed my attention.

“I had to restart that dryer with the sneakers in,” not even the term ‘sneakers’ throws me anymore I’m so used to america! “They made the door open so I made sure to restart it.”

Simple enough considering he was right next to the machine, and it saved us waiting another 20 minutes. My response?

“Oh I’m sorry about that! Thank you!”

It wasn’t until he said there was no need to aologise that I realised my mistake. Firstly, they weren’t my sneakers so even if it had warrented an apology it wouldn’t have been mine to make. Secondly, it didn’t warrent an apology.

But I guess that’s part of my British charm. Typically we hate being an inconvinence to anyone and are known for our manners- though they’re going down hill many would argue. Even when I got hit by the cycalist my automatic reaction was to apologise for getting in his way- God forbid I cross at the designated crossing zone at the correct time.

I guess in the case of stereotypes,  the Britishness which we’re famous for probably isn’t that insulting. Unless you think we’re snobby, in which case you’re mistaken and I apologise for that.

Building Your Employability: work placements

So my cousin begins her first ever job tomorrow, as part of her year 10 compulsory work experience. It’s unpaid, two week long placement organised through her high school. Schools all over the country organise these placements to help kickstart kids careers, ambitions and develop those all important “employability skills”.

It was the same for me when I was her age. I wanted to be a lawyer, on the basis that they earned a lot of money. Thankfully one of my friend’s was related to a local lawyer who regularly took on placement students and we made arrangements to shadow him for the week.

My cousin, however, has no sort of career ambitions. Instead they’ve arranged two week long placements, she’s to work in a doctors reception followed by working with an accountancy firm.

Now, that’s where it gets a bit silly I think. Like they’ve taken the last two placements available, and the most boring at that, and stuck her there. To me that’s a completely mind numbing, ambition destroying method. Though I do know many ambitious potential accountants at university, who aims to be a GP receptionist? In my community that’s a low place to end up, along with being middle aged and still working in a pub- unless you own it of course.

Despite this I do think work placements are an essential part of a person’s development. I have been on several, extremely varied, short term placements including primary schools, at the local newspaper, lawyers’ office and at the local Further Education college developing their website. These, along with my degree, helped expand on my knowledge of what was available or what I could do- and even the placements which put me off my career plans I still consider the most important experiences.

Pain in the Teeth

So as I previously mentioned, I’m in the amazing United States of America for the summer. I’m living the American dream for the next three months. And yet in the past week I’ve seen the inside of Accident and Emergency and a dentist.

Considering I’ve only been here since last Thursday I’m doing pretty well.

So let me explain the exciting end to my day trip to New York. We were on our final stops to Times Square to shop before the train home an hour later. Then I brought it to an abrupt stop when crossing the road outside Maddison Square Gardens, when a cycalist took me down.

Of course I don’t really know much about what happened past being hit and suddenly being surrounded by people. The story is that he flew at me, knocked me off my feet, I did a somersault and flew a meter down the road while managing to keep my handbag on my shoulder. Oh, and I landed on my face.

The one fact I know is the face part- I essentially lost a big part of my two front teeth. For the past week I’ve been suffering what I consider incredible tooth pain, gum pain and lost the ability to chew or bite into anything with the pieces of my teeth that remained. Drinking was also a hassle given the exposed nerves! (And really, no 21 year old wants to demand a straw with every drink).

Finally my boss at the camp kindly arranged to get me fitted in at the local dentist. The appointment was today and the result of over an hour of pain was:

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I HAVE FULL FRONT TEETH! (No unfortunately I don’t have a before picture, low self esteem doesn’t cover how I felt about my smile then!)

Now my biggest worry is cost of course. Insurance was crucial coming over here, as it is on every holiday I go on given my luck. But dental is also a hassle with any insurance company and with that the company I was with only would pay a limited amount- less than half of what the estimated price would be.

Being put in this position made me much more apprectative of the NHS. More so with my trip to the hospital, my biggest worry was that I couldn’t afford the treatment despite the fact it was an emergency. It’s a sad state of affairs when someone might actually have to consider risking their own life and welfare for fear that it might bankrupt them.

Textbooks and Cliches in America

So I may have mentioned before that I was heading to the sweet US of A for the summer- Mendham, New Jersey to be precise. Well, I arrived safe and sound a week ago and it’s been none stop. Though you’re probably missing my regular posts I’ll quickly sum up the week here to give you a taster:

# Travelling adventures
# Newark airport
# customs!
# camp
# spring training
# the internationals
# New York
# Bellevue Accident and Emergency…

So the, it’s a long story…