A student’s lament

Third row back

never back chat

yet nobody knows my name.

I am the classroom ghost

Faceless to most

Silent learner lurking in the shadows.

 

Alison Jean Hankinson

 

I am putting this in for the open link night. I wrote this last week and yes it is/was inspired by my day-job…. Foe d’Verse open link

d’Verse

The inspiration actually came from a very lovely student who gave the description “lurking in the shadows” when asked what skulking meant. I sent a postcard home.

Elders and their sacred knowledge.

Sometimes you have to lose a battle to win a war

When God closes a window somewhere he opens a door.

I can kill two birds with one stone but if I am too bitter and too full of hate

I will cut off my nose to spite my face.

Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,

But if I take myself too seriously pride is bound to come before a fall

These pearls of wisdom, this sacred prose

Demonstrates and shows

How the old folk prepared the new

Passing their sacred knowledge on to me and you.

Alison Jean Hankinson

Daily Post Prompt
Sacred
japanese-women-by-flickr-user-mrhicks46-creative-commons

Portrait of a Princess- Our Diana- The People’s Princess.

Series Handmaidens of the Lord. 2. The People’s Princess. Princess Diana.

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She had innocence and beauty and to an entire generation of women who were teens in the 1980’s she was our princess the People’s princess. We talked about her in our backyards, we searched for the latest photos in our newspapers and she was in our living rooms on our TV screens almost every day. We even had the Princess Diana haircut. Everyone got a day off to watch her fairytale marriage on 29 July 1991. She was an ordinary girl come good, it was a Cinderella story. I think we all idolised her, even in those later years when it had all turned to custard and the cracks appeared in the marriage and she had that last summer of love in Greece in 1997. We didn’t mind that she wasn’t perfect, we didn’t mind that she was like the skin horse and some of her hair had been loved off, she was real. She had fragility but she didn’t break and she always had time for those who needed her most.

We all cried the day she died. We cried for days and more, we watched and cried at her funeral and the date of her death is forever marked in my memory as my mother died on the same day 11 years later.

She touched the people that no-one else would touch.

In those days we had something called section 28 in the British Law. It forbad teachers to promote or teach about homosexuality, it was an era where the GLBT agenda was just becoming less marginalised and it was still taboo especially with the ravages of HIV and AIDS. I taught in a rural idyll where farmers and wellington boots were the norm and had to turn down a proposed visit by the local GLBT health promotion specialist for fear that someone might slash his tyres.

In order to best serve my community we had “that article 28 lesson” where I wasn’t allowed to teach or promote anything to do with the GLBT agenda but could attempt to answer questions with a degree of restraint. Those were the days of non-exam RS, and contemporary moral issues where we explored the burgeoning issues of HIV awareness and protocols associated with it and this is where Princess Diana really stole my heart.

She showed compassion and kindness to people that no-one else would touch. She didn’t just talk to them, she held their hands when no-one else dared and demonstrated openly that HIV couldn’t wouldn’t be passed by normal social discourse and normal social action. She gave forbearance to the weak and marginalised. She had kindness. She touched their hands “without gloves” and she touched our hearts and our souls with her insistence on doing what she believed was the right thing to do. She became the patron of the National AIDS trust and worked tirelessly with the Terence Higgins Trust. She was a fine mother to her two lovely sons and they too have continued to work with the causes their mother supported so dearly.

Speech by Princess Diana in 1991

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vijH40aUuAo

Princess Diana opening the AIDS ward at the Middlessex Hospital in 1987. There was much speculation about if she would be wearing gloves. She didn’t god bless her.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rTDm5lTwHs

Section 28 stated that a local authority “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.

Portrait of a Photographer-Stephanie Sinclair.

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Series-Handmaidens of the Lord – 1. Portrait of a Photographer- Stephanie Sinclair.

(The photo is of Auntie Shirley’s wedding BTW.)

This is a first for me, but as next week is our “Say no to violence” week I wanted to celebrate some of the women whom I have been inspired by over the years and reflect on their compassion, resilience and advocacy for women across the globe and to give acknowledgement to the amazing lengths they have gone to, to empower, strengthen and rebuild the lives of others – hence the title- Handmaidens of the Lord.

My first is Stephanie Sinclair. She is an amazing and award-winning photo-journalist who has captured the stories closest to many women’s hearts across the world. In 2012 I first came across her work on “Too Young to wed” It was based on a series of photographs she had captured over a long period of time for the National Geographic telling the stories of marriages and marriage celebrations across the globe. I came across it trying to find something different and of substance to inspire my teenage students who were looking at sexuality marriage and rites of passage.

2012 had been a humbling year for me, and whilst teaching High School students can be complex I have always regarded it as a privilege especially when I have senior classes full of bright and empowered young women. I wanted to share with our young women the stories of women around the world. I wanted them to be empowered and recognise their place, privileges and opportunities in a world where more than 700 million women were married before the age of 18. I wanted them to embrace their lives and value the education and opportunities offered to them by living in a culture and society that generally supports and recognises the value of women, where my students are unlikely to die before the age of 15 in childbirth unlike their peers in countries like Afghanistan.

I found Stephanie, and I found Nujood Ali and I found a beautiful colourful but corrupt world. It was the beauty of the imagery and the short succinct nature of the film that made it perfect to use in class and my students accepted it in stunned silence. Some even went to the library and borrowed the book by Nujood Ali. It was the first year I took my students globe-trotting in an attempt to get them to value their own roots and I will never regret it.

Stephanie Sinclair demonstrated compassion integrity and tenacity in her endeavours to get the issue noticed in the Western world. Her advocacy and its continued impact for women has continued to send ripples through society. We faced further horror as the years went by when we recognised the other darker sides of the treatment of women and recognised that for many our experiences here in New Zealand would seem beyond the stuff of dreams.

Stephanie set up a global initiative based on “Too young to wed” aimed at creating positive experiences and rehabilitation for women who have suffered from the abuse of child marriage. The links to the video clips and the websites are at the end of the blog. Stephanie Sinclair continues to work to support and advocate and help women to heal in other projects she is involved in. One of the latest projects is called “Story half told” and it documents in portraits the struggles and journeys of women and their families living with, dying with and surviving Breast Cancer. Again the link is at the end of the blog.

So my first portrait in my series of acknowledgments to women who have made a difference to the lives of other women is of Stephanie Sinclair. Thank you for all that you are, all that you have done and all that you continue to do. I believe my life has been richer from appreciating your work and I believe that I, in turn, have passed some of that beauty and richness on. Much love. XXX

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7c_zppPutQw

http://tooyoungtowed.org/

http://www.storyhalftold.com/meet-stephanie-sinclair

 

What Folly is this?

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What is a folly?

a costly ornamental building with no practical purpose, especially a tower or mock-Gothic ruin built in a large garden or park.

Well we used to have them in the UK, Dallam tower was a folly just behind the school I first taught at. It was my understanding that it was a Victorian concept, it wasn’t so much a fake or mock up but a tribute to something that was a much larger creation or edifice

Our folly is for the great Hundertwasser project. Whangarei is great fan of Hundertwasser and is set to create a beautiful piece of architecture based on designs made in the Hundertwasser style. It divided a community.Many thought the idea was ludicrous and the building would look ridiculous. I quite liked the idea, a bit of higgledy-piggledy add a splash of colour, who can possibly object to that?

So is it really a folly? It is ornamental and serves no other purpose than to be aesthetically pleasing…but it that the case? It should be a tourist draw-card and make us all feel a little bit better about our town and our lives. Hayley has been working in the Fudge Farm, a delightful little shop at the Town Basin, it serves simply the best ice-cream in town and as we made our first homage to the Folly, we stopped for a lemoncurd small cone and she said it had been “busy as” all weekend. The car park and occupied tables back this theory up to. So perhaps it isn’t a folly after all. Perhaps it is a Wislly instead, something ornamental that has a wise purpose. Love to all. XXXX

You don’t know what you don’t know

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This picture was taken at Senior prize giving, one of the few occasions where we still wear academic dress. The hood isn’t actually in my university colours as I did my degree and Post-Grad in England. Staff in NZ school are very particular about their hoods. They have to have the right one and this brings me to exactly what I am talking about- you don’t know what you don’t know. This was the very first and most important life lesson I learned on my arrival here.

I graduated from Leicester University in 1988, for some reason the ceremony wasn’t in the summer, and it was all a bit rushed and as a consequence I never even got an official photograph of me in my official gown hood and hat. They were hired not purchased and it never really occurred to me that I would ever need or desire to own my own. You don’t know what you don’t know. The photograph thing appears to be a key feature of my life, when my husband and I married 22 years ago in 1994 we didn’t get official photos then either we didn’t have enough money and I didn’t think I would ever want or need them. Again you don’t know what you don’t know. I seem to spend a lot of my time not knowing things that I should know.

I earned my Post graduate certificate in Education fromManchester Polytechnic- school of education in 1993, for some reason the graduation ceremony was in the October and I had already embarked on my teaching career and my principal wouldn’t allow me to take the day off to attend my graduation. I have no idea whatsoever what the colour or style of the hood is or was, and once again have no official recollection or photograph of the said event.

My next foray into education was at St Martins College Lancaster where I studied for a graduate certificate in counselling, I don’t even remember if there was a graduation let alone if there were caps and gowns and hoods, I had just discovered I was expecting my daughters so perhaps this accounts for the lack of any  memory.

And this brings me to my new adventure this week- I am just embarking on a new study with Massey university where I will work towards a Post Graduate Diploma in e Learning. I have had to try to explain what I hope to achieve in my studies and quite frankly I have no idea other than it seemed a superb opportunity not to be missed. I don’t know what I don’t know so I don’t reeally know what I hope or will achieve in the process but one thing I do know- if I get to graduate this time- I shall be wearing the full regalia and having my photograph taken properly and officially this time.