Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Winning battles?

Here's a hairdressing story. A Russian tennis player, Svetlana Kuznetsova, was trailing behind in tennis trials in Singapore when she took radical action to change things in her favour. After the third set she asked for a break and a pair of scissors and then sat down and chopped off a good half of her plaited ponytail. She went on to win the match. Asked about this later she explained that her plait had been bothering her by getting in her eyes. "Every time I would hit a good shot, it would hit my eye every time and I had [to] struggle,” she said. So the plait had to go.

When Delilah cut Samson's hair it took all his strength away but a haircut obviously had the opposite effect on Svetlana. Maybe the trick is that you have to have "ownership" of the haircut. Phil plans to have his hair cut later today. Will it make him stronger or weaker? We shall see!

The arguments about proposed increases in the number of grammar schools continue. Estelle Morris, Labour Party politician and for a while Education Secretary, was commenting in the paper about the plans for new style grammar schools. The idea is that each selective school should work with a local non-selective school, sharing best practice and advising them on how to get the best results. I found myself reflecting that teaching clever kids, confident kids, kids who have been assured all along that they are bright, is really a piece of cake. Almost anyone can get good results from such pupils. They practically teach themselves and the teacher is really just a facilitator, providing the information and outlining the techniques that they need. So where does the idea come from that those who succeed with selected pupils can give advice to those who teach in non-selective establishments?

And, having just expressed that opinion across the breakfast table, I read this from Estelle Morris: "Many selective schools do well by the children they choose, and of course they should contribute to education beyond their own doors. But does their success with bright, motivated young people from supportive home backgrounds give them the skills and experience to turn round schools with large numbers of struggling and disaffected children? That is where the challenge lies." 

There you go!

Over in France, possible presidential candidates are gearing up, hoping to gain their party's nomination. One of them, a certain Jean-François Copė of whom I have never heard, was asked in a radio interview if he knew how much a pain au chocolat cost. “I have no idea but … I think it must be around 10 or 15 centimes,” Copé said. Wrong! A pain au chocolate costs around €1.15 in France. Oh, dear! Even people who have been Finance Ministers, a post he has apparently held, don't necessarily do the food shopping on a regular basis. Or perhaps not even once in a while. I wonder if he has any idea how little you can buy for 10 or 15 cents.

Meanwhile, our own little battle continues: the parking problem. Plans are afoot to paint double yellow lines right outside our houses. A local councillor is coming round later to drop off a template for a protest petition which we are all urged to sign in the hope that we can prevent this latest move to make our lives more difficult.

Happy days!

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