Grammar schools fail those who are poor.

Since Theresa May’s grammar school announcement, there has been much debate surrounding the success of such a school. I have seen a plethora of articles detailing the negative effects to a child’s mental health, the elitist process that sieves out the poor in favour of the rich and even personal accounts of a pupil’s own experiences in such an environment. Many articles I have read have been negative; both in the practicality of May’s proposal, as well as the side-effects of a grammar-style education.

Back in September, I wrote specifically on all-girls grammar schools. I argued that a single-sex grammar school benefited me, both academically and socially. I cringed at the debate that selective single-sex schools hinder a child’s interaction with the opposite sex and formed no benefit for a child when they found a job in the “real-world”. My post saw no negatives. Not because there are none, but because the negatives I saw were not at the time relevant to debate.

As the debate has progressed, I’ve opposed May’s proposal of building more grammar schools to give disadvantaged children a better chance of attaining a place in higher education. I have done so, because it is in a word, flawed. My experience of an environment, however positive, is by no means the whole story and will not benefit every child.

I fall in to the category of a “disadvantaged child”. My school career has been funded by bursaries and free school meals.

From the outset I knew the financial implications of choosing a grammar school. With the cost of the uniform alone being approximately £200, including an £80 blazer, I knew that my education was going to be costly. Without the help of my Grandma, I would have declined my place in choice of a failing comprehensive school that I hated.

Throughout the years, financial circumstances didn’t affect my academic abilities. It only hindered the experiences I was able to partake in. I declined any trip over £50 if I couldn’t afford to pay for it myself. And even then I often persuaded teachers to let me pay in installments.

Unfortunately, the year I started sixth form, EMA was abolished; a policy which granted disadvantaged students with £30 a week for going to college. It was replaced by independent funding from school’s themselves. It would be money that the school had spare after every other finance had been seen to. This left me with a bursary of £100 a year which when I had to travel by bus every day, didn’t stretch far.

Yet by the end, I had attained 12 GCSE’s and 4 A-Levels; both attainments being in the top percentage of my cohort.

Although I exceeded academically, I did so from the knowledge that one day I will reap the rewards. Not every child can have this frame of mind. Many are often daunted by the knowledge of debt and financial worries. Not every disadvantaged child has someone who can supplement costs.

The cost of receiving high grades is nothing compared to the debt some could inflict on themselves.

Theresa May stated that our education system has long been “…sacrificing children’s potential because of dogma and ideology. The truth is that we already have selection in our school system – and its selection by house price, selection by wealth. That is simply unfair.” While this is correct, grammar schools are not the answer.

I may have been bright enough to pass the entrance exam but I sure as hell wasn’t rich enough to afford its luxuries comfortably.

By re-establishing the grammar system that was abolished in 1998, we will ultimately see the return of “the simplistic, binary choice of the past, where schools separate children into winners and losers, successes or failures…”, that they tried to avoid.

If you want a disadvantaged child to truly succeed in education; being back EMA, change the maintenance loans back to grants, reduce the 6.2% interest you add to our loans from day 1, and, cut or abolish tuition fees.

If any politician sincerely wants to help disadvantaged students then bring back focus on the standard of comprehensive schools, fund our education system and please, prove to the younger generations that they are valued.

 

Feminism: Why the name should stay.

University, student accommodation and the debates that parliament would be proud of. 

If university teaches you one thing it is how to debate. It teaches you how to hold on to your beliefs when all your friends doubt you. Debates are inevitable especially when it comes to trivial subjects like politics or ethics.

Living in student accommodation is no different. My flat have debates on the regular, sometimes it doesn’t end well but in our own way I suppose we respect each other (even if at times we want to refute every statement being tossed at us and scream that they are wrong). Living in close proximity to people who are all geographically and socially different from me is hard. It’s hard when your beliefs are challenged and your opinions over-ruled. But I firmly believe that the only way to make them stronger is to have someone to refute them. I write this post after a recent debate that happened this morning.

Feminism.

The fight for gender equality, derived from the word female as it is the female gender that is undervalued and deprived. Coined by philosopher Charles Fourier in 1837. And now in the modern age, a term used to attack those who stand up for its movement.

My flatmate argued that the term feminist should be changed in order to gain the sense of gender equality that they support. In order to allow naive men to understand the movement instead of believing the media’s interpretation of men haters. This inevitably started debate.

Feminism.

The fight for equality in both genders.

Equality.

The belief that all humans are equal and should be treated so.

Humanism.

A term used in the Renaissance to describe a philosophical movement that believed in rationality rather than supernatural matters.

I incorporate the definitions above because equality and humanism are two terms that come up frequently in this debate. I want to show that these terms are very different from feminism.

Feminism is a movement for everyone. It deals with the oppression of women in all cultures, race and religion, as well as men’s issues. Hence the confusion to why it is not called equality or humanistic. Due to this people argue that the name should be changed to encompass a broad range of people. But this is not how feminism came about. It has developed with society and we must understand this.

Feminism was bought about because women were being oppressed. If it were the other way round I’m sure the term menism would have been coined (which recently it has). History is how the term was derived. From Mary Ward to the Suffragettes, women’s rights has been a huge part of society for a long time. So if you want to shake up feminism, market the media involved, shake up the movement. Don’t change the name.

To change the term feminism in order to please naive men (or even women for that matter) is absurd. We should educate these people on feminism, not rename it. People should be educated, not subject to the portrayal of the media, but via real people.

Revisiting Childhood.

As of yesterday, I have officially achieved a distinction in Foundation Art and Design. The evidence – which consists of two certificates – has been successfully received.

I head to Glasgow University in September to study Philosophy and I’d be lying if I said this was always the plan…

Six-year-old Anna wanted to be a professional dancer.

Thirteen-year-old Anna wanted to be a Marine Biologist.

Sixteen-year-old Anna wanted to be a Zoologist.

And twenty-year-old Anna has no clue what she wants to do; all she knows is she has the overwhelming urge to travel.


This realisation prompted me to think back to my aspirations as a six-year-old girl: a professional dancer!

Wow…I set my standards high from a young age.

I remember it was my dream to be a backing dancer to the rich and famous. I would choreograph routines and perform them in my bedroom. The routines mainly consisted of me running back and forth across the room but I was convinced that was enough to gain a place among the best.

Then at the age of nine, I started Irish dance. I grew good at it; achieving by the end three trophies and a number of medals. I dreamt about dancing in the Irish Championships and one day dancing alongside Michael Flatley. A dream spurred on when my Grandma bought me ‘Lord of the Dance’ on DVD. I watched it over and over, transfixed on every detail.

I was convinced that this was something I would do for the rest of my life. And I prominently remember the day when I got my first competition dress. When I saw it hanging from the door frame, I stared at it in admiration. I had earnt it; it was mine.

I keep it now in my wardrobe. It doesn’t fit but every time my Mum tries to get rid of it the little child inside of me stops her. It has become a memento of my childhood.

 

Broken Heart

 

Final_Ends_Anna_Holloway_HeartFinal_Ends_Anna_Holloway_Heart_Inside

Photographs taken as part of Foundation Diploma in Art & Design. Project entitles ‘Interior’.

I love the intricacy in the second image. Found when cutting open the heart’s plain exterior. Forcing the heart to become torn and broken but showing the beauty and complexity of an organ we take for granted.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/something-broken/

If we were having coffee #3

If we were having coffee, I would seem unusually relaxed considering the situation. As a student there is always a deadline that we must meet. This week I have 3; all due Friday. I’m feeling okay about it.

3 art projects: 1 100% finished, another 99% done and well the other I prefer not to comment on. As I sink lower into my seat, my coffee rising in front of my mouth to muffle the sound of 60%. I’m ashamed.

This has never happened to me! uninspiring topic after topic, and I have always managed to pull something out of the bag. Not this time. The figure does nothing to spark my interest, and my tutor knows it.

Although not all is doom and gloom.

I’m excited for when the final major project starts in a few weeks. This means my own ideas and my way of developing a topic. I will be back to my comfort zone of deep and dark, conceptual art. Excited for the fact it may bring the return of my 6 foot paper sculptures. Oh I’m in love.

It gets better. The final major project starts with a trip to Paris. I have 22 days to wait..not that I’m counting or anything. I can’t wait to explore the art galleries of a new city. Understanding their culture and not to mention going to see Notre Dame Cathedral (a must for any traveller). I must admit, I do have an affiliation with old Churches and Cathedrals. The beauty of them is sublime.

After my lengthy chat about Paris and Art; both seeming to dictate the majority of my conversations these days. The once excited atmosphere becomes relaxed again.

I will move on to say that I’ve been on half term this week, so my writing schedule has been more consistent. I’m proud of that fact.

If we were having coffee, I’d let you know that I have watched a lot of films over the past weeks. I’m sad that we haven’t caught up with each other recently. I believe this is due to film procrastination.

Two, maybe three weeks since we last chatted? All due to a Netflix binge. Watching movies old and new from the cheese of Summer Holiday (I think that’s the name) to the drama of Shutter Island. I’ve had a blast.

My weeks, although full of deadlines and work, have been rather relaxing due to this binge. I hope yours have been the same.

Thanks to you teachers

Daily Prompt: We Can Be Taught

I am one of many students who owe their gratitude to a number of teachers I’ve had throughout my time in education. Those whom have managed to shape my perspective on subjects, social issues in the world and more cheesy – me. Even though I have not yet reached the pinnacle of my education, I’ve had many teachers who have inspired me and whom I admire greatly.

One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.- Carl Jung

In my experience, a great teacher isn’t one whose only focus is on the grades of their students but whose focus is the students themselves; their lives and well-being. They take time to get to know us as individuals and because of this lessons and the school day turn into something fun instead of a chore.

Every child should have a caring adult in their lives. And that’s not always a biological parent or family member. It may be a friend or neighbor. Often times it is a teacher.- Joe Manchin

Throughout my years of education I’ve had 5 teachers who have shown care for students and love of their job. These 5 teachers, fondly enough are all female. But that’s not to say male teachers don’t do a great job – they do. This is due to the fact I’ve only ever had 3 male teachers. Although they enhanced my ability in their subjects and showed consideration for us students, they didn’t impact my life greatly. The best teacher has the ability to not only make you enjoy a subject and get the grades, they impact the way you think and your outlook on day-to-day situations.

Even as I grow older and the relationships I once had with them break down, I will always look back with admiration and remember the many memories I’ve had. The day sitting in the Art room singing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ when both my teachers joined in, full force and at the top of their voices – the Math rooms stopped and stared for a while. My AS Philosophy teacher willing me not to make a plan in life whilst listening to my many ramblings about A-Level stress. My now Philosophy teacher, with whom I share many memories – it is she that has inspired me most.

These teachers didn’t only leave me with lasting memories but they instilled into me concepts that I wouldn’t have been given. I  respect them so much that no words can express. Sometimes I wonder if they really know how much of an impact they make – I hope they do.

My teachers are one of the reasons I go to college because I know there will be no dull moment. All my anxieties of my home life will fade for the hours I am there. I will laugh until I cry, jest and joke with them until I reach the boundary (which sometimes I go over – sorry!) but most importantly I will learn. I will gain knowledge and interest in things I never thought possible and I will go home with more admiration and respect for them than I did yesterday.

So for this, I thank them greatly.

They are what make great teachers.