Working like a mule with my nose to the grindstone trying to earn a crust. Oh, woe is me, woe is me!
I guess we’ve all been there, doing a task we don’t want to do. You know, that long, dark tunnel with light at the end that is probably on oncoming train!
Now, I’m not one to moan but if I can ask your forbearance for a couple of minutes. . .
I’m currently ploughing my way through several hundred English examination scripts. Yes, the same paper more than 300 times. All are marked online. In days of yore the postman used to struggle up the path with bulging packets of scripts. The pile would sit the corner (3 feet high?) and as the days progressed I would watch the pile slowly diminish – a satisfying feeling indeed.
Today the marking is in front of a computer monitor.
Amazing how much dust would settle around the pile of paper scripts and leave its mark there over a four week period.
So picture the scene gentle reader. This private tutor sitting in front of the computer monitor, working through the aforementioned scripts. Tedious is perhaps an understatement. However, every job has its perks. With this one it’s the laughs I get. Oh yes, laughs. Every so often I come across a ‘howler’. Howlers are those mistakes that examination candidates make in their attempts to write as much as they can in the set time but do not write what they intend. For example:
‘She lay there semi-naked, semi-conscious, and semi-hopeful.’
Oh how I wish my papers were as exciting as that! That and all the others in this post plus many more beauties can be found at: http://bombay.indology.info/howlers.html
Other beauties include:
‘The octopus wrapped his testicles round the diver & strangled him.’
‘Many protesters have tried Gandhi’s method of non-active activity.’
‘I am not prepared to sit down & be made a convenience of. Slowly the upper deck became occupied with travellers who wished to relieve themselves. Three middle-aged ladies with colourful hats presented themselves.’
And two for you English literature lovers:
‘Macbeth actually killed the King; but remember, behind every good man lies a woman.’
The question is:
‘Discuss the style of Romeo and Juliet.’
Our eager English student answered:
‘It is written entirely in Islamic pentameter.’
Sorry but the howlers that I am coming across I cannot share because the scripts are still ‘live’.
At one of the script standardisation meetings, puffing and panting over papers, a lady teacher said to me:
‘Well, we don’t do it for the money, do we?’
As she paused I looked at her with incredulity and thought, ‘Well, I’m not here for my health’.
‘We do it for the knowledge and experience’, she continued.
Later I thought about what she had said and concluded that she was right. After all, if educators don’t understand the examination system, what is the point in doing what we do? Even private English tutors must see Education as more than just about the legal tender – even if that’s all the present British Government views it as. . .
I am currently drowning in exam papers. Metaphorically ‘drowning’ because there are no actual papers! All is done in the virtual world online. In the olden days the postman used to deliver hundreds of examination scripts. Today I only have a question paper, a Mark Scheme and several sample scrips from the senior examiners.
Want to see a fun 3 minute video of exam technique that I put together? Check this out:
Collectively examinations are a strange beast that becomes all-consuming as candidates attempt to peak at a specific time on a specific day. My job, as a home tutor, is to fine-tune a candidate for that specific time.
Of all the places I started to ponder ‘Exam Peaking’ was on a recent cruise to the Mediterranean. It didn’t feel like the Med. though with a two metre wave swell; perhaps that’s why my mind wandered back to the day job.
After almost one week out of Southampton it’s amazing how home life receded into the distance. What took priority at home, on a day-day basis, just didn’t seem important (or relevant) anymore. Things such as checking emails, reading blogs I am following, looking what my friends on ‘Facebook’ are up to – all didn’t seem that important any more.
I pondered this lack of interest in my life back home and began to see a correlation with academic exams. ‘Out of sight out of mind’ is an oft quoted saying that seems applicable. As human beings it is the ‘here and now’ which consumes us. Selfish? Yes. True? Definitely.
The same could be said of exams. Giving private tuition I follow the syllabus of an examination board, guide my students over the academic hurdles, push and cajole them down the final straight with respect to revision techniques then onto examination techniques and finally they take the final step alone – exams!
Countless hours pounding the keyboard, umpteen hours revising and it all rests on two or three hours sitting on a hardback chair in a dour, dull, echoing examination hall. For what? To get that longed-for piece of paper. That is the ‘here and now’.
What happens later? Well, you forget many of the things that were so important at the time, your life moves on and what was the ‘here and now’ fades into the dim and distant mists of time. Names of triangles disappear, dates of famous battles cannot be recalled and who cares about the major themes running through ‘Pride and Prejudice’?
English tutors do! Home or away, my love affair with Jane Austen will always be the here and now. She may not be the prettiest girl on the block but she certainly found a way into my heart.
This is the Private Tutor‘s office in the garden. . .
Closer inspection will reveal all the necessaries – seat for those weary bones, reading glasses for the failing eyes, folder and papers to prop up the beleaguered British Education System and a mug of tea to cure all ills.
Even closer observation will reveal that the sun was shining. After a long cold winter and a non-existent spring even we Brits deserve one day of sunshine. . . So this was it, my chance to peruse those impending examination papers that I have to mark this month, in the fresh air and sunshine. Just to the left of the bench is a pond with fountain and running water. Ah bliss. . .
I had hardly sat down and spread my papers about me when I started to gaze at the Bramley apple tree. What a fantastic beast it is. Every year without fail [except last year - ] there is a proliferation of blossom followed by a wonderful crop of cooking apples.
That was the fatal mistake, looking around for something to distract me from the examination papers. I would imagine your lives are the same. It is so easy to NOT do the odious tasks in hand.
Not far away, hanging from a branch of the aforementioned Bramley is a bird feeder. As long as it contains ‘goodies’ the birds put on a never-ending show. The birds that entertain us include: blue tits, great tits, sparrows, dunnocks, robins, blackbirds, starlings and big, fat pigons. Big and fat because if they are able to get to the feeders they eat all the food contained within. The secret is to hang the feeders in the middle of a branch because the pigeons aren’t agile to land on them – sneaky but necessary to give the other birds a chance.
I say ‘robins’ but I think there is only one. I do believe they are very territorial. I say ‘dunnocks’ and ‘sparrows’ but I find it very difficult to tell the difference between the two. The robin approaches slowly, taking up three or four different perches before landing briefly on the feeder and then flying off with a single suet pellet. The dunnocks and sparrows are willing to spend a little more time on the feeder before flying off to. . . well, wherever dunnocks and sparrows fly off to. . .
The greatest flurry of noise and activity is when the starlings arrive. En masse there can be as many six vying for a position on the feeder. They now (June) have young to feed, which can often be found on the next branch waiting for the parents to take the suet pellets to them. Three or four young take a lot of feeding and a lot of suet pellets. A murmuration could eat one of house and home! At this time of year the young are bigger, duller and more fluffier than their shiny, sleek parents.
So far, no papers marked. Another sip of tea and I’ll crack on. Ah, here’s Muffie. Our ever-friendly, ever-nosy blue merle border collie come for a stroke and a cuddle.
As the private tutor saying goes – ‘Put off till tomorrow what doesn’t have to be done today!’
Time for another cup of tea – Education can wait.
When this private English tutor goes internet surfing I enter a maze. I click here, I click there, I click everywhere – I end up taking a myriad of paths.
That was how I arrived at various sites warning me that ‘WordPress’ could go ‘belly up’ – you know, do the dying fly, go down the pan. The upshot of their dire warnings is that I needed to back up my beloved blog and they have just the software to do that – at a price!
After the initial panic of thinking that ‘experiencedtutors’ was in imminent danger disappearing into the ether, I decided that I needed to copy it somewhere safe. Following a modicum of naval gazing the penny dropped.
‘A BOOK! That’s what I’ll do. I’ll put all my posts from the first year of blogging into a book’, shouts the private tutor, whilst jumping up and down excitedly. Having undertaken such book projects previously, I entered the fray with enthusiasm. The company I had used is ‘Blurb‘. I have nothing to gain from advertising them, simply that I have been happy with them in the past.
Technical Bits - skip if bored
The process involved the software ‘slurping’ all my posts into a book form. The programme allowed me to add footnotes (web addresses linked in the post) and comments but I decided against this, simply adding my posts and the images. Unfortunately the images have to be added to the side of the page rather than in the text. Numbering the posts at the top of the pages, additional formatting and other ‘tinkering’ took several hours but I ended up with the book as I wanted it.
Having that wonderful creation – a book, on my shelf, I feel safe and secure in the knowledge that it will not disappear into the ether (a house fire maybe!) and it will not be obsolete technology. It will certainly outlast me, can the same be said of ‘WordPress’?
So picture in your fertile mind gentle reader. This private tutor a few decades hence, taking down the book from amidst the likes of Austen, Brontes and Dickens, then blowing the dust from the top of it. With slippers on feet, sitting in front of the blazing winter fire, a wee dram of nectar in hand, re-living his thoughts and feeling of the 2012-2013 through his book of blogs. Ah, a comforting thought indeed.
The book has no saleable value. It is a nice thought, however, to think that a couple of generations after I have ‘curled my toes’ and will be ‘pushing up the daises’ one of my descendents will find it on a book shelf where it has sat all those years.
‘Wow, just look at this. Remember that weird private tutor guy we had in the family, from way back when? Seems he was a published author!’
1. ‘I must not mess around with Liebster award.’
2. ‘I must not mess around with Liebster award.’
Having joined in the fun of the Liebster Award previously I thought I would ‘bend’ the rules slightly i.e private tutor does his own thing! Hope you are up for this one.
You won’t see any blogs names in this post, other than Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis And Me who presented me with this award. For that, I thank you. I always enjoy reading your blog and I hope others follow this recommendation by clicking on the link. My apologies to you for corrupting the standard passing on procedure of the award.
So it goes like this. Below you will find 17 of my photographs. All were taken from 10 minutes walk to 60 minutes car ride from my home. I live in a beautiful area of England and I hope you enjoy looking at moments in time that I have captured. Each photograph is a link to a blog that I am passing the award on to. Each blog is one that I follow, read and enjoy. Why not click on several of the images you may be surprised what you find underneath.
Please accept this award from a fellow blogger that enjoys and admires your work. Do not feel pressured to pass on but feel free to do so to those blogs you enjoy and admire.
Here are the rules that I was sent but bent. Naughyt Private Tutor!
The Liebster award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. But what is a Liebster? The meaning: Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.
1. List 11 facts about yourself.
2. Answer the 11 questions given to you.
3. Create 11 new questions for the bloggers you nominate for the award.
4. Choose 11 bloggers with 200 or less followers to nominate.
5. Go to each bloggers page and let them know about the award.
6. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
498. ‘I must not mess around with Liebster award.’
499. ‘I must not mess around with Liebster award.’
500. ‘I must not mess around with Liebster award.’
‘Finished sir. Can I go now?’
Awarding the people who live in the moment
The noble who write and capture the best in life
The bold who reminded us what really mattered
Savouring the experience of quality time
Grandma Cranky – affectionately known to her groupies as ‘Cranky’, has passed on the ‘Best Moment Award’ to this private English tutor.
I had been flirting with Cranky off and on for several weeks but never ever dreamed that she would flutter her eyelids in my direction.
By now, I know, you are well rehearsed in the ‘go check out this fantastic blog’ blurb, so how do I urge you to take a peep at www.crankycaregiver.wordpress.com
Not since the ‘English Tourist Board’ invented William Shakespeare for the American tourists has such a comedian/philosopher/psychiatrist/grandma strutted the world’s stage – enough said? Convinced? It’s your loss if you don’t prise open the window on Cranky’s weird and wonder existence. Enough said of my third favourite grandma, on with show.
- Create an acceptance speech either by video or a written speech post
- Pass the award on to 15 other bloggers
I will opt for the video acceptance.
My life has had many great moments. 2009 saw me at Port Lockroy in Antarctica. I was photographing the Gentoo penguins when a chick came to me, stood at my feet and looked me in the eye. Time seemed to stand still but it must have been several minutes that he allowed me to photograph him. A great, great moment in my life. This is him – Gerry the Gentoo:
My Great Moment acceptance video is:
It is an 8 minute video of great moments in my life with a cast of millions – of penguins!
Now the bit you’ve all been waiting for – my blog nominations.
This award is for fun and an acknowledgement from me that your posts enrich my blogging experience. Do not feel obliged to pass on to others but please do if you so wish.
writeonthebeach - www.writeonthebeach.wordpress.com – Fantastic sense of humour and lovely turn of phrase.
She Said What? - http://www.stephrogers.com – You want a laugh? Check out this recent post of hers – http://stephrogers.com/2013/05/06/and-the-bad-parent-award-goes-to-drum-roll/
codecalla - http://www.codecalla.com – An educator and freelance editor/copy writer that posts very interesting observations
The Robotic Hermit - http://www.robotichermitblog.com – Anyone who posts about the wonders of a cup of tea deserves this award! See this post: http://robotichermitblog.com/2013/05/04/the-littlest-thing/
Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis And Me - http://www.willeke73.wordpress.com – A lady based in Ireland whose posts are always interesting and heart-felt.
Russell Ray Photos - http://www.russelrayphotos2.com – As a photographer he knows all about great moments – great images and observations
Pish’s Blog of Loveliness - http://www.blogofloveliness.wordpress.com – Honest and from the heart. A wonderful writer and observer of life
thereluctantranter - http://www.thereluctantranter.wordpress.com – What a ranter – they don’t come much better than this
Sauch gander - http://www.saucygander.wordpress.com – Many great food moments with fabulous photographs to illustrate – always willing to comment
Mitten’s Kittens Blog - http://www.mittenskittens.wordpress.com – This lady had faith in my blog by awarding me my first ever award and I thank her once again for that. Always, always interesting reading.
Book Peeps - http://www.bookpeeps.org – Doesn’t post as often as should, perhaps this ‘Great Moment’ award will help.
Ziggyshortcrust - http://www.ziggyshortcrust.wordpress.com – The post that made me cry – http://ziggyshortcrust.wordpress.com/2013/04/21/a-final-farewell-to-honey-the-skinnydog/
theinnerwildcat - http://www.theinnerwildkat.wordpress.com – Thoughtful and always interesting.
Today experiencedtutors celebrate one year blogging with WordPress.
‘Time for a quiet retrospective’ thinks this private English tutor. There are questions to be mulled upon, chewed over and spat out:
A. Why set up this blog – i.e. aims and ambitions for those into business speak.
B. Positive points on the last year’s journey.
C. Negative experiences on the rocky road.
D. Where now?
A. Why – Having set up our education web site (www.experiencedtutors.co.uk), perceived wisdom demanded that the site be found. After all, what’s the use of a shop window if the blinds are down The great and the good of the virtual world suggested social networking as the way forward. A blog would be required.
Also, if we step back a little, this private tutor is willing to admit that he has been wondering for several years about putting pen to paper and writing a novel. Regular blog writing would, perhaps, help to nurture those seeds of discipline required for such an undertaking.
A blog seemed to serve both of the above requirements: social networking and novel training.
After much thought, deliberation and naval contemplation concerning: a name, which blogging platform and what to write about, the first post was published on 8th May, 2012. This was it:
Is EDUCATION another brick in the wall?
What a load of rubbish it was. The images were stolen clip art and the words were stolen from ‘Pink Floyd’. However, as it used to say on my money box when I was young: ‘Tall oaks from small acorns do grow’.
Twelve months on from the post I can say that:
i. The social networking has been a success. WordPress is extremely search engine friendly and often our posts are top of the unpaid sites on Google page 1. This then feeds into our web site, which also has good Google rankings.
ii. The novel commenced six months after the blog and is now at 54,000 words and growing weekly.
B. Positive – Artistic creativity, reading wonderful writing and establishing virtual friendships around the world are but three of the positives.
C. Negative – few and far between. Perhaps my biggest complaint is that it is a ‘Time Thief’. Oh yes, ‘Where did that last hour go?’ It was spent analysing the statistics on my dashboard. . . lol.
D. Where Now? - What do I see on the horizon from way up here in the crow’s nest of the Good Ship WordPress?
For the foreseeable future the posts will still appear weekly.
See you next week in year 2 of the ‘experiencedtutors’ blog.