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Sunday, January 6, 2019

I've just read this, something I wrote about education....2002, I think...


JP 2002

                        A DIFFERENT, but HONEST, VIEW

It's 3 in the morning, I'm wide awake,  and my mind is buzzing.

So, knowing I won't fall asleep again, I'm going to get up, go to my study, open my laptop and type what's in my head.

OK, it's now 3.10 a.m. Here I am, in my pyjamas, at my laptop, with Matilda, our darling pussy cat, on my knees........

So, what's in my head?

Why is it full of buzzing bees?

Well, first, some context:

As a former teacher, teacher advisor, Principal of two schools in the UK, creator/director of two Alternative Teacher Education programs, I have visited and interacted with teachers and students in over fifty classrooms, in 20 or more schools, here in Colorado.

I see effective, successful teaching. 

I see teachers, some in their first/second year, some more experienced, enthused by their students, eager to take their kids on and on, igniting their curiosity and enriching thie rlearning levels each and every day. 

I see others battle with students who are appalingly disrepectful, metaphorically taking their teachers apart.

I continue to get emails from such teachers. 

Here's last night's from J.

'Hey, JP:) I'm doing better with a week off from school under my belt. I still feel, though, like I'm struggling and battling students more than helping them. So strange how hard it is to put into action all the theories and straegies I can talk about, but struggle actually doing. Anyhow, I keep showing up, and reflecting, and trying, so I figure I'm learning and may find my stride some year soon. On the job hunt to return to Colorado.........expanding my search to consider non-classroom positions/non-traditional educational/art positions. 

Who knows :)'

IT was THIS, last night's reading of this particular email that set my brain on fire.

So, this is what's in my mind NOW!

Well, I started teaching in the 1960s at a school that became one of the places to visit if you wanted to see OPEN EDUCATION as it was then called in play.  My Headmaster, Ted Ward, encouraged me and my colleagues to set up and resource activities that stimulated curiosity, motivated and engaged our pupils, and thus give them the focus and the drive to read and write and measure and draw - and think. 

Academics linked our teaching to the philosophies of Jean Piaget and John Dewey.

Much later, this teaching style has been given the name of CONSTRUCTIVISM.

Today, wanting and trying to teach like a constructivist hasn't, it appears, helped those in my teacher ed. program who have gone into city public schools, where, by and large, they battle against large classes, an imposed curriculum, imposed testing,  being told what and how to teach, being evaluated by someone watching from the back, clipboard in hand, poverty, lack of parental guidance and support,and, finally, being judged by polticians (who have never taught!) as failures!

So, let me be blunt! It's time to cut out the crap in education!

It's time for a COMMON SENSE approach to teaching. (OK, Matilda, move over a bit, please.)

It's time to honor teachers, repect their commitment, and trust them to teach their kids they way they feel is best - best for them, and, therefore, the best for their students.

It's time to put in place everything that each teacher needs to create classrooms where a visitor feels the classroom student community respect, and sees and feels an obvious passion for teaching and for learning.

It's time to cut out inappropriate, expensive professional educational programs where those not in classrooms tell those who are what and how to teach.

It's time to shift those $ into classroom resources.'s MY COMMON SENSE approach to creating optimum teaching conditions:

First, recognize that teachers are overworked and underpaid. 

Let's give them a salary that's commensurate with their education, dedication, and experience.


  • Let each teacher OWN his/her classroom, its resources, and what goes on inside the four classroom walls.
  • Let him/her be responsible for identifying and meeting the needs/learning goals for each and every student.
  • Support him/her by creating easily accessible funds for minor teacher purchases (including snacks) that support individual and group social, physical and learning needs.
  • Consider altering class sizes  (I think that an elementary class, for example, should have no more than 20 students, mixed gender/ability/race).
  •  Bring in more qualified and experienced professionals who are adept in mentoring teachers (hate the word 'coaching')  and who are adept at helping those students with significant social/learning issues.
  • Provide appropriate furniture for student seating, storage, display, etc.
  • Recommend particular accessible, proven ideas that enrich all subjects - including technology for students and teachers, that bring science, mathematics, social studies, art and literacy, alive.
  • Create a free food program that is accessible to students throughout each and every day.
  • Create a time-table that gives teachers appropriate breaks at regular intervals.
  • Create weekly one-on-one opportunities for the teacher to interact with a trusted colleague/mentor to share ideas and experiences.
  • Involve parents more and more in classroom life.

And, finally, ensure that each principal ( a former teacher, of course ..........) will introduce all of the above, and who will cover classroom teaching when the teacher needs a break!'s nearly 5...............time for a cuppa.

Matilda, want some brekkie?


King Bertie

Bertie wanted a break from watching the birds lunching at Johnny Paull's Bird Restaurant, so he thought it would be fun to look at catancestry.purr....................and see what he found!!

He and his sister, Fifi, have a KING in their catancestry!!

Crikey, now he thinks he's a PRINCE!!
I suppose he'll expect me to bow before he jumps on my knees for a cuddle!
Whatever next?

Fifi couldn't care less!
She's always known she's a princess........................

Monday, December 31, 2018


Because the air temperature has been well below freezing, it was a delight to see the hoarfrost crysrals on the trees and cacti in my front and back gardens.

Hoarfrost (which I've never seen before) is formed, I read,  'by direct condensation of water vapour to ice at temperatures below freezing , and occurs when air is brought to its frost point by cooling.'


Saturday, December 29, 2018

Fifi and Bertie

Bertie and Fifi are now fully fledged house cars, enjoying their new lives sitting in the sun watching the birds..............


Friday, December 28, 2018


After a really snowy and windy night, I lit the fire early on this morning, fed the birds, and sat on the sofa............I read the NYT, made some journals/notebooks from food boxes for my next science class, watched the boring news about the government shutdown, and listened to Pandora on the TV, especially the Simon and Garfunkle collection.

Each song was accompanied by photos of the singers when they were in their physical prime (many of them are around my age, mid 70s.)

I was so struck by their youthfulness.............their innocence...........the energy in their eyes..............and the touching, poetic words to their songs.........................hey, hey, aging AIN'T for sissies..............neither is touching music........................


I’ve just returned from the local food shop with three big bags of bird food. I’m stocking up Johnny Paull’s Bird Restaurant as I’m expecting more and more visitors as the weather gets colder.
The bird bath has just been cleaned and refilled, so I’m now sitting and watching the birds (at least 13 different species) eating and drinking their mid-morning brunch. Bertie and Fifi are watching, too!!

Mourning doves, collared doves, goldfinches, grackles, juncos, tree creepers, sparrows, grosbeaks,  blue jays, woodpeckers, yellow bellied sapsucker, chickadees, and the occasional very large crow
( I think I got them all!  Wish I could photograph them………..if I venture outside, though, every dicky birds pushes off!).

Jeannine made some Pine Cone delights. She smothered the pine cones in peanut butter and then rolled them in a variety of bird seed. A minute or two past after she hung them on a tree the birds discovered them - and loved them.

As per forecast, it snowed very heavily through last night, covering everything with about 4” of very white fluffy snowflakes…..and that pleased me as my trees and other plants so need a big, drink!

My bird restaurant clients were not too happy, though,  as they had to dig for the food I put out last night. And, again, the Pine Cones were a favorite and easier to feed from as they hang from the tree branches.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

My science class at the nearby Senior Center...................

I started this class, at the request of Peggy (aged 97) and Carol (aged 83 ) in February, 2018, thinking I could lead science discussions on a range of topics, for, say, three weeks, or, perhaps, six weeks at the most.

6 people came to the first session.............the right number for a class...

It's now the end of 2018..............and the class continues!!

Everyone loves sharing their knowledge and their enthusiasm.

I'm now looking forward now to more energising science discussions throughout 2019. The topics vary, but the best and most animated sessions happens when I give everybody a tin and ask them to find sometvhing of interest to put inside, bring to the class, and tell them what they have found.