The letter is – ‘I’

alphabet-I=abc for 2018I am an IdIot. I ImagIned I’d be able to post somethIng for each letter of the alphabet, once a fortnIght.

But … ‘neIn’. It’s been ImpossIble for me to keep to the tImelIne.

Anyway, the challenge Is to wrIte a post, the fIrst word of the tItle to begIn wIth “I”.

Idleness. IdIocy. InIt(IatIve. IntImacy. Ireland. Islands. Itches. Icons. Ions, Iron, Ivy.

G’wan, have a go!

Tag or CategorIse your post [ ABC for 2018 ]
And do use a TackBack so I can find your post? Thanks

Homework – a sometimes subject of conflict

In NZ, schools at primary level are under a largely forgotten regulation that declares homework is not compulsory for pupils, and schools may not punish pupols for failing or choosing not to complete or even try it.

Sadly, many parents expect homework (and, also sadly, many parents do not care about it). Homework at primary school was, at ages five through c. seven, not given to us by teachers. Children were allowed – expected, even – to spend after school hours playing outdoors on sunny clear days, and inside on rainy or blasting cold days  read, coloured in, did jigsaw puzzles, play board games, or play with toys.

When I was in the class level at which I was first given homework, it was more like study: read a small book and list the difficult words,  practise writing letter shapes, prepare a ‘morning talk’, or find an interesting news clipping for the class to hear read…

At senior primary/intermediate levels, our homework would include a task requiring us to use a dictionary to find the meanings of a vocabulary list ready for a topical lesson the next day, or to practise story, letter or poem writing.

Fast forward to secondary school and, honestly, I cannot recall what homework was set. Oh, we were given homework to do. But my school was not anything like a public school. The lessons were utterly forgettable: I know for French we had to copy from the textbook word lists with their English translation. (Very little oral French in the classroom.) Latin, ditto – but the Catholic girls had a distinct advantage, having grown up hearing Latin in their church and in school prayers.)

I do remember in one class not a single pupil had done the set homework, and we were all ordered to the detention room that same afternoon to do it. Every girl who went to detention said to herself something like, “Well, no one else is here, and I’m not going to be a mug and stay”. So, nobody went to detention at all. The next lesson, that nun was abso-fuming-lutely furious. She strapped every one of the thirty plus girls in the class, on the palm of the hand with a non-regulation leather strap.

(Yes, strapping boys was allowed back then. Regulations defined the length, width and thickness of the strap, and ordered the strap was not permitted to have a handle. It was to be folded in half, and the teacher was to hold the two ends and strap with the looped end.)

By the time I’d built up some years of teaching, I had my own view of homework. No set word puzzles, no colouring-in pictures, no “busy work” sheets or “make work” sheets.

  • A reader known to the young child to read at home without needing help (re-reading easy books helps build fluency).
  • A handwriting exercise of the child’s choice (with an occasional suggestion of what to copy from – usually a well understood piece from a topic book, allowing the child to select the passage which interested them most).
  • Later, a school-day journal, in which to write about the day’s events at school. I allowed bullet-points, quotations, memories, confessions, questions…anything related to the lessons or social interactions.
  • Later again, the school day journal was for recording three things of importance from each of the day’s lessons or classes. Thursday’s added any questions about any problems they had with staff or other pupils.
  • At the eldest primary level, the class notes then included paraphrasing a paragraph each felt was the most important from the textbook.

See, what I was doing?
Gradually introducing responsibility for their own learning, and practicing real study skills.

Did it work?
Well, at my last school – students from ages eleven & twelve (Intermediate level, Years 7 & 8) would line up at the door of their Year Nine classes on the first day of the school year all prepared for learning. Students enrolled new from public schools would wander around, have no note paper, be short on pens and pencils, and took weeks to settle to study.
(I admit it… It felt great when their Year Nine teachers would come to me and say “I can tell who you taught last year. All your girls are good students!”)

As a parent of three, I don’t recall homework being given to my elder two.
The first was an advanced reader, five years ahead of the other five-year olds. We chose to home school him for years two and three, then he chose to return to school just after the year four began.
The second son brought home no homework. Then we learned he had been forging my signature in his homework list notebook (which he’d never shown us) for the year!
Our third, our daughter, brought home a reader every afternoon of her first year.

In her second year, she was in the school at which I was the sole charge teacher, with her young brother in his seventh year. They had the homework following the practices I described above. When they moved up to secondary school, they knew how to learn in class, and how to study at home. (Though there was a distinct gap between the knowing and the doing – and I never hassled them about it. It was their responsibilty, I felt.)

Over the years of teaching, I did have parents who expected worksheets and word lists, and I would supply them to their children – and see the gap widening between their study skills, and those of the ones who worked with my system; so, no regrets. None at all.

Kids glyph

I would love to read your opinion of the place for homework, the type of homework today’s parents expect or see being most useful, so please feel free to “talk” to me in the Comments below. I will respond to any feedback, I promise.


The child looked up through candlelight.
“Mah, is there meat tonight?”
From Mama, no word was said;
Hiding a tear, she turned her head.

She melted fat in boiling grain.
“Mah, will Dah be paid again?”
She ladled out his bowl of gruel,
And thought how poverty could be so cruel.

Papa that night would not come home.
He tramped the roads for work, to roam
From farm to farm, from town to town,
But honest work could not be found.

And so the two sat down to eat,
Said grace and prayed for, one night, meat.

Also, remembered (and corrected by a friend, Jim…

“It’s the rich wot gets the pleasure;
 It’s the poor wot gets the blame.
 It’s the same the whole world over –
 Ain’t it all a ruddy shame!”
Writer and original title unknown

H challenge for ABC for 2018

Here’s the next alphabet blogging challenge –H 

How will you interpret it? 

Horse-racing? Hair? Hares? House & Home? Happiness? Holidays? Hope? Heights? Hats? Heaven on earth? Hot Stuff? 

The topic is up to you… All that’s expected is a title starting with the challenge letter, and the Tag or Category “ABC For 2018”. Have fun! 

Pingbacks are welcome, as are Likes and Comments 

Good Times

Good Times? These are a few of my best, from childhood on…

  • Spending time with aunty’s seven kids during school holidays – bike rides out to the river, spending the arvo at the local park…
  • Finishing a party at someone’s house by cooking a fry-up with whatever was in the pantry/fridge
    (despite cleaning their flat out of food for the week)!
  • Riding on the outside of Wellington’s Cable Car – heading back to the flat after a night out.
    (Only a leather strap to hang on to.)

Wgtn OldCablecar-thelatest-1-1024x696

  • Working in the music-cassette section of a record pressing business – and being called in to help the boss decide what the heck to do with “Ma Na, Ma Nah”.
    (This before Sesame Street had hit the TV screens. If not for me, no one would have heard it for another seven-odd years!)
  • Learning to crochet a baby layette for my first-born… lemon 3-ply wool, in a shell pattern.
    (Quickest learning a handcraft I ever have managed.)
  • Teaching self-defense to my eleven year old pupils.
    (From then on they could disrupt any trouble in the playground by asking “Does anyone here need help?” Oh, the scrambling with reassurance “It’s only a play-fight!”)
  • Watching elder son machine knitting his own secondary school uniform pullover.
    (So proud.)
  • Reading good books to classes in which a third could not or did not read for pleasure. McBroom’s Wonderful One-Acre Farm to get them laughing, House of Sixty fathers to get them weeping.
    (“Not crying, Miss – just something in my eye.”)
  • The years spent with my dog, the Basenji I named Toffee, ‘cos he was brown and sweet.
    (This after asking my class to use the Internet for suitable names in the language of the breed origin – much glaring.)
  • Commuting between home town and uni city every week. 140 K on the straight listening to AC/DC. (And getting pulled up by the rural cop who’d seen me twice but stopped me on the third for a warning.)
  • Watching the cop fist-pump as he sang “Thunder!” on his way back to his patrol car.
  • Teaching – from five-year olds to sixteen-year olds, then tertiary-level students.
  • Breaking the secondary school’s rules, by not reporting the 16-yr olds who smoked. I mean, we gave them adult level responsibilities, so I gave them some “tips”.
    (“If you’re going to smoke when you’re driving in your car to school, hold the fag in your right hand, with your window open just a crack. The smoke will get sucked out and your hair won’t stink.”)
  • Joining the teens in the back shed when the ‘grown-ups’ were wining inside.
    (Better music, better gags, more fun.)

G up next for the ABC for 2018 Challenge

G-letter-gTime to gee up for writing a blog post, titled with the letter G.

As I;m ‘way behind schedule, I’m giving only a week to create a blog post.

Ideas at the moment include:
Gambling, Games, Geese, G I Joe, Ghastly Gifts, Ghosts, Gimlets, Giraffes, Gin, Goblets, Good news, Gorgeous Girls/Guys, Gratitude,  Gremlins, Grumbling Grandpa,
… and/or whatever takes your fancy.


I look forward to seeing how you respond, so ping-backs are welcome.

Feel free to leave your suggestion for a post within the comments to help us


Forgiveness is not easy. Forgiving someone for their unkind or harsh words or deeds is however important. True forgiveness lightens your heart and, if genuine, can brighten your life. It’s hard to forgive a harsh political policy that hurts families. It’s hard to forgive someone who you have only realised hurt you years ago, but time can be a healer – especially if and when you come to understand the motivation for that hurt.

“Forgive and forget” goes the saying. And, just as forgiving is hard, so too is forgetting. But if the forgiving of a past hurt arises from a new understanding of the one who has hurt you, my feeling is that forgetting is not necessarily needed, if you can recall the event with your new understanding.

I have fed an anger, a hurt, for too many years over a hurt done to me, until the day the words of my father came back to me: “Put yourself in {their} shoes.” I thought long and hard about the hurt I’d held for so long. I made myself consider the circumstances which had led to the hurt being inflicted on me. I made myself look at how I had allowed it to affect my life. I had made mistakes, bad judgement, poor decisions, and I had passed on the results of that hurt on to others. My bad.

Once I understood the position in which the one who hurt me had been in, and the circumstances which had put her in that position, that frame of mind, I found myself able to forgive. But…I choose not to forget the reason behind the hurt being placed within me; for remembering forces me to continue to forgive, and to learn to love again the one who, without intent, hurt me.

Forgiveness features greatly in the New Testament, of course, and I have collected the related passages here… drawn from different versions of the Bible.(NIV – New International Version; NRS – New Revised Standard version; GLT – George Lamsa Translation)

Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV) “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar.  First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”
Mat 6:14-15 (NIV) “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But, if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Mat 6:12 (NIV) Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Matthew 18: 21-22 (NIV) “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’
Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.'”

Mark 11:25-26 (NIV) “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.
But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

Luke 5:20-21 (NIV) “When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.’ The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, ‘Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?'”
Luke 6:27-37 (NRS) “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you… Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same… But love your enemies, do good… and your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful… Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
Luke 7:49 (GLT) “And those reclining with Him began to say within themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?'”
Luke 17:3-5 (Phi) “So be careful how you live. If your brother offends you, take him to task about it, and if he is sorry, forgive him. Yes, if he wrongs you seven times in one day and turns to you and says, ‘I am sorry’ seven times, you must forgive him. And the apostles said to the Lord, ‘give us more faith’.”
Luke 23:33-34 (NIV) “When they came to a place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals – one on his right, the other on his left, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Eph 4:31-32 (Phi) “Let there be no more bitter resentment or anger, no more shouting or slander, and let there be no bad feeling of any kind among you. Be kind to each other, be compassionate. Be as ready to forgive others as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.”

Col 3:12-13 (Jer) “You are God’s chosen race, his saints; he loves you, and you should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same.”

Heb 8:12 (NIV) “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

And of course, within the full text of the Lord’s Prayer…

Matthew 6:9-13
After this manner therefore pray ye:
“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.
And, continuing…
Matthew 6:14-15 “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”