Evolutionary Experiences

My learning experience (so far) has been examined under a microscope, with the results below. You’ll also learn a little on behaviour (but only if you are eager to)!


When a word in a dictionary ‘spots’ a new reader: Hello, my name is Floccinaucinihilipilification.Nice to meet you – what’s yours?

The reaction when the reader struggles to comprehend the word: Bonjour, je m’appelle Claire. Encantada de conecerte.

That feeling. Complete bewilderment. The first time I encountered the above 29-letter word, that is indeed English, my neurons fooled me by befriending my breakfast cereal. Snap. Crackle. Pop. The native fuse had blown within grapheme number two: mother tongue was forced to re-circuit to the foreign languages, before realising that wire was also home to many flaws. No conduction shut access to the main street, so information alleyways were ‘helpfully’ blocked off too! The logical words inside me were spat out as jargon. To (temporarily) swap my brain matter- like we swiftly switch between our WIFI and 3G – would have removed the obstacles; evolution is a placid tortoise, however. I suppose that’s better than this biological process being like an over-zealous, super jealous (MacDonald loving) ‘rabbit.’ Slow and steady wins the…
…but, the race was cancelled. For stormy weather, that is. The next sun ray never beamed down until Semester Two. Poor tortoise and her many miles left to doddle. Left foot, right foot, left foot – and so it went on. Just if trudging one foot in front of the other was so weightless! Looking on the bright side, the weather-proof shell provided more than sufficient shelter whilst my brain muscles went through the trek of adapting to my first term at university.

As we all do, you are now most likely donning your black Sherlock Homes’ coat with ‘evidence’ of this slog as merely the typical freshers’ homesickness. Stop now. Claire’s brain has a mobile home, the shell – remember? Leaving family never threw me off kilt, yet surprisingly penning my first academic essay did. Informative essays – the dry mixture – were never flavour of the month for me but throughout school, I had learnt to cope with them. English teachers only insisted on one being written every academic year (bearable) but I was soon to realise that university has its own agenda. Higher educational establishments, in general, treat these fact-driven essays like classroom Starters of the Day. Draft one for this project; scribble another for that. I knew brushing these aside would only surmount to another pile of problems, especially since they constitute as our summative assessments. A failure to submit sets off vexatious alarms: no-one craves a crab-pinching headache or the prospect of a degree bursting into snake-tongue flames.

The robotic, methodological approach to academic writing boxes up any expressionist. Jack (my brain’s creative animal) is not easily dispelled, however – oh yes, his nostrils catch those oxygen bubbles every time. Air forcefully weaves through the mouse-nibbled holes in the wafer-like layers of carboard for ventilation. His spring’s metal remains sturdy and shining, but four years of these conditions could be idealistic for rot and rust. Dead. Jack would be… Isn’t it a (table)spoon full of sugar that my degree programme has, in a way, ‘adopted’ him? In clearer (and other) words, personal reflection has become embedded into my coursework through GLOW Blogs. The online space starts out as bare ‘walls,’ but slowly and steadily we can hang up ‘pictures’ to create a gallery of our progress as teachers-in-training. Seeing others’ exhibited work twists any frown around as honest answers are given to hot-topic issues. This platform puts Brookfield’s Lenses into this cheetah-paced, techno-centred century; the truth magnified in everyone’s discourse considerably helps to settle any teaching niggles. Pinning up my first post… with the hammer of a mouse… made me realise that points can be argued in other ways than emotionless (but logical) essays. Jack hardly needed any ice to recover from this mental ordeal – literally, his rest and recovery constituted army-style star jump drills. Up and out, simply stretch about. Was he pretending to morph into a starfish in my head? At least he can gain credit for knowing seventy-percent of our brains are water-tanks. It’s only sad he loses my brownie point for idolising a brainless species.

The fear of harnessing in my creativity eased off by the end of my first term at university. Tortoise (or to the biologists, evolution) had gained courage – and for sure, some strong ‘biceps’. Today, tackling academic essays isn’t an arduous adventure into the unknown because expanding my blog and writing skills is more of a hobby. Assuredly people will judge my opinions, my style, my whole empire: irrelevant. As much as feedback is any author’s energy drink, it is the mental stimulation, clarification and justification that continually sharpen our pencils. Recently, three learning theories – behaviourism, constructivism and social constructivism – peaked my interest. (Fun fact: the suffix -ism is also the noun for a distinctive theory, doctrine or practice.) These theories must be underlined more often; our preferred learning styles as teachers affect our success in classroom management ( Wray, 2010). No identification as to how I best assimilate knowledge could quickly escalate into a convergent earthquake: the entrance of placement would powerfully rise, and time could do little but subduct. Since the earthquake’s focus would be myself, my students would dreadfully be at the epicentre of this disaster. What a magnitude of a problem. Aren’t we all just glad it wasn’t under the watchful eye of nature? Preventative research and reflection: taken.

As by literacy’s (more than ten) commandments, the next paragraph would succinctly follow on with a written debate as to which teacher-ism approach I will adopt on placement. However, the floccinaucinihilipilification of words sitting row upon row is evident when I then admit that my learning style weighs up to be that of a social constructivist. People who are like-minded hold this worldview because we are satisfied by actively seeking out information collaboratively; transmission of knowledge constructs didactic robots. A chance to extend beyond the margins of the paper is when our brains’ glue guns heat up. So, for that reason, this blog post will have a line drawn under it soon. Fret not, lovely readers: my Sway presentation is the firefighter ready to rescue those confused and curious neurons from sparking to extreme explosions. Cliff-hangers are everyone’s bug-bearers, so respectfully sharing my reflections is simply of common courtesy. Don’t let it slip your mind to hold down that ‘off’ button on your mobile phone (copyright rules do apply!) and enjoy the silent ‘movie.’ It’s never too late to dash for that bag of popcorn – or bowl of Rice Krispies!

Dry: This word is notoriously synonymous with derogatory terms – boring, uninspiring, fruitless – however my usage does not aim to convey that academic writing is tedious. In fact, factual essays are the golden sponge in a Victoria sandwich. Regarding other literature styles, personal compositions fill us up like the oozing jam and cream whereas creative pieces dust the icing sugar on top (with a pick of strawberries if we’re lucky.) As a constructivist, my preference lies in creating subjective-based work that is less associated with a specific end-goal. Nonetheless, there are still hundreds and thousands of sprinkles in the reading of informative work by those who kindly lead knowledge discovery: my mind’s schema is like Rainbow land. Point is: saying you prefer blog writing is not scientific proof for your peers’ believing you loathe studying the ‘meaty’ works, the protein.


Due acknowledgements for this blog post:

Arthur and Cremin’s book (2nd edition)-  Learning to Teach in the Primary School 

Wray, D. (2010) ‘Looking at Learning’ in Arthur, J. and Cremin, T. (eds.) Learning to Teach in the Primary School. 2nd edn. Oxon: Routledge, 2010, pp.129-145.

Rudolph, I’ve got a letter for you (and Santa too, of course)!

Before you immerse yourself in these words for a few minutes, you will be all the wiser from knowing that this blog post is my Christmas Eve letter to Santa (and Rudolph). Don’t worry, I’m old enough to realise that Santa is a fictional character, but the magic can still exist- right?! Merry Christmas for 2018! Have a lovely time (and be sure to save some mince pies for our jolly old fellow, Mr. Claus.)


Dear Rudolph,

Even though your nose resembles blinding scarlet laser pens, my heart still bursts with love for you. Love is a thrown-away word nowadays but Rudolph, I am not prancing around here. Your co-worker, Cupid, would forecast that we’re never been destined for a relationship- and I presume the stars shine in that direction too. However, my dear friend, my attraction to you continues to live on, unlike romantic relationships which are as delicate as the intricacy of snowflakes. Your festive vibes encapsulate me from some of humanity’s ill spirits. It is your story, the true lived tale of bullying, that puts you on the highest pedestal for me – me, and the teaching community at large.

Vital information has just whizzed around the circuits of my brain… these words… must be of very little value to you. That’s unless I’m mistaken, and reindeers secretly have a Google Translate to decipher our human-talk by. Santa may be able to lend you a hand with that one afterwards but I’m afraid the rest of this letter will be addressed to your friendly, red-hat, long-bearded master. Don’t stomp your hooves until the snow flings in every direction with fury; blame my people’s government for their failure in bringing up a multi (animal) lingual nation. Now then, pass this letter over to Mr. Claus if you may. (Your Tesco’s Finest carrot is already at my fire-place- as ever, royalty deserves nothing less.)

Ho, ho, ho, Santa: sorry to eat into your precious time although this letter will cheer you up just as a bucket-load of mince pies do. It is with ounces of delight that I can assist you with your naughty and nice lists this year: Rudolph, your ‘best-man,’ deserves a permanent (not fixed or temporary) post in your good books. The upmarket, front-row position on your sleigh may comfort his ego, but remember it is imperative that we tingle your companion’s heart strings. Put an end to your omniscient persona, Santa, and give my fellow the right recognition. Undoubtedly, you treat every single one of your reindeers the same – it’s standard practice – yet your heart must ache ever so more upon musing of the troubles of his past. Must I (painfully) recall those ‘oh so fun’ games when your (now) sleigh captain was belittled like six-foot ‘monsters’ boss around three- feet elves? No, I guessed not. Rant over: it’s time to harmoniously sing his praises – call for the choir… that’s if the eminent Michael Bublé is on strike.

Hold on a second- apologies are well and truly due. Now my fast and furious (seventy-mile per hour) hurricane attitude has settled to a breezy blizzard, I can write with sense – and not blanket everything in lethal, icy remarks. My thoughts led to me to a slippery slope when I addressed you quite forcefully in the previous paragraph, however I now am admitting to my wrongdoings. It’s just thinking of such an empathetic person like you – who is most comparable to the Christmas Big Friendly Giant – raises the hairs on my goose bumps to the point you’d think they meticulously practised yoga every day of their life. That’s not an understatement, believe me. Whilst on the topic of forgiveness, it’s fitting to mention that I’m partaking in the joys of greeting children queuing to meet you. You may not have hired me in Lapland (Claire calls for a man-size box of tissues) but Aberdeen needs me. ‘Elfing’ is truly a privilege that you have endowed me with; I can only but seize the chance to share my adoration for Rudolph and… take an #elfie.

Hurry on the days when society deems it acceptable, presentable and respectable to attire joker hats with jingle bells and slipper-soft shoes!

I’ve deviated off on a tangent again, Santa. Let’s toast our glasses to the fact I’m not your GPS navigation… swiftly back on track, if we may. Please do me of the honour of allowing myself to properly explain my feelings towards your wingman. Rudolph, he’s a strong piece of meat: I’m not a vegetarian, but equally I’d never even consume a slither of reindeer-meat. That’s a high-court crime, especially for someone who is meant to be Rudolph’s guardian! With hefty muscles- peaked to perfection for his annual present-delivery endurance marathon- comes determination, and that is what we need to install in our children. Instant gratification is as common as plastic money notes. Should we ever wonder why our kids are ‘besties’ with sheets of illuminated-glass? In with the old Tamagotchi; out with the new Siri. (Oh, that’s a deliberate ‘mistake’ in my phrasing.)

Mental stamina is not developed enough amongst the majority of our young people these modern days. Sir, with your magical work, we could help share the story of Rudolph’s battles and give our students a lecture about the grit that they all so need to carry with them throughout their lives. Wish lists of happiness feeders are driving you out of pocket – and the elves…well, their array of talents are spectacularly wasted with the infinitely increasing output of gadgets ongoing. As a student teacher – and part-time Lapland aspiring elf- I’d hope it wouldn’t be deemed ‘immature’ and too out of place for me to remark that parents must continue bringing up their children with time-limits on their gadget usage. Despite Rudolph being in a turmoil of teasing from his red nose, he danced and pranced through the traditional party games – and won over every cell beating in your unmeasurable heart. Our cherished fluffy Christmas ‘horse’ flies around with the magic of (almost) everlasting happiness, all whilst demonstrating to our young ones that being unique is as special and worthy as the rare pennies living on the ground. He’s a man…with just a slightly alternative twig-like hairstyle. A man needs no gadgets; the classic board games are the ultimate deal (if you’re also not forgetting about the gel for anything like antler-hair of course!)

Dear me… my inner-elf has outshone itself again. These festive characters really like to bounce around to the sound of their jingle bells (and blether away until their cheeks inflate like mini red-balloons). Aren’t elves just secretly human versions of Rudolph? Seriously speaking, that’s my Christmas wish for you, Santa. Give me the chance to be an elf from Monday to Sunday. (Yes, I’m enrolling for the atypical seven-day job- uh huh, not the nine-to-five Monday to Friday.) If I’m blessed with my elf-tunic and plane tickets to Lapland, I’ll know my teaching will improve vastly. My students will learn the key to healthy happiness- and maybe the odd few will become your minions too (or as English-lovers joke, your subordinate-clauses). It’s a wicked myth that people fall to the trick of believing that you are born as an elf: W.Huittt and J.Hummell (1999) are behaviour theorists who would one-hundred percent support elf-school as they define learning as “the relatively permanent change in behaviour brought about as a result of experience or practice.” We can all be elves, can’t we?

I guess you’ll reveal the truth tomorrow, Santa.

That’s me for Christmas 2017,

Lots of love from Claire Xx (The 18-year old girl who should really be an elf, especially since she has left out your all-time favourite of a beer and a mince pie!)


This PowerPoint (which is available online) was of assistance to me in the writing of this blog post. The quote by W.Huitt and J.Hummel (1999) is found on the second slide.