A Changing City.

Today, I drove from my parents house, where I have grown up for the last 21 years, in Portlethen through Aberdeen City to other other side of Aberdeenshire heading to Inverurie. Now although I have been to Inverurie before and out in this general direction, it is not a direction I usual travel in and an area of Aberdeenshire I am unfamiliar with.

Within the Social Studies Experiences and Outcomes, ‘local environment’ and ‘my/our community’ are reoccuring words throughout early to second level in the People, Place and Environment section (Scottish Government 2009, Pp. 6-11). However, as I have said in a previous blog post (Rennie, 2017a), I spent my summer this year, 2017, traveling Scotland seeing a variety of different landmarks and also traveling further such as New York, Paris, Berlin and Dublin. I have also spent the last three years, exploring a variety of different places in and around Dundee whilst I have been at university. The days I have spent exploring these various sites, such as Kirriemuir’s Neverland park (Rennie, 2017b), Crombie and Monikie Park (Rennie, 2017c), McManus Gallery (Rennie, 2017d) and Dundee in general (Rennie, 2017e), have been amongst my favourite days in Dundee. I always have a great day when I am out exploring somewhere new with friends. It has left me feeling very at home in Dundee but also as if I know more about Dundee than my home town lately.

This has left me with a wonderful sense of wanderlust and a desire to know more about our planet. On the other hand, it has meant I have neglected my home town. As I drove this route today, I realise how little I really knew about Aberdeen now. Aberdeen had been a city in which any kind of development never really occurred in as I grew up. As a city, we rejected new plans for the Union Terrace Gardens revival (BBC News, 2012) and have been waiting 17 years for a new football stadium (Say No to Kingsford Stadium, 2016), in my opinion, the place was slowly fading away due to the recession and Aberdonians’ unwillingness for change. Today, despite this, it is no longer the case. We still have not accepted plans for a new Union Terrace Gardens or football stadium but there is currently the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route development with sections slowly opening (Transport Scotland, 2017) and others well underway (Transport Scotland, No Date) and a new Exhibition and Conference Centre being built (Evolves, No Date).

On my way home from my course in Inverurie, I noticed as I drove along, there were so many tourist attraction signs for places I never even knew existed. I drove past them without even thinking until I past a sign for a Castle Trail. I thought to myself after passing it, that would have been very interesting for my social studies elective. In class, we had been looking at trails around the university campus in small groups, we were asked to create a trail. My group had opted to do a trail of places for relaxation or time out around the campus, we found places of nature such as the two university gardens or the mini bandstand gardens, the gym, the pool, the tennis courts and DUSA the union. Following this idea and to reconnect to my own home town, after passing the sign, I told myself I would stop at the next tourist attraction and look around.

Unsurprisingly with my luck, the only other tourist information on my route home, was a hotel. I am not sure this would have been of any interest to my social studies elective. Therefore, I decided once I was home and I still hadn’t been on any kind of trail or got to know my city any better that I would look into the castle trail sign that I had saw. Unknown to me, this castle trail took in all of the castles in Aberdeenshire. In 21 years, I had only visited 5 of the 18 on the trail (Visit Scotland, 2016). My favourite castle, Dunnottar Castle, was on this trail and I still had no idea it existed.

I felt adamant that I would not find another castle like Dunnottar, it is simply stunning scenery. However, I am ready to go and explore and see some more beautiful castles. Therefore, when I am home next weekend, I will go on a drive to one of the the other castles I have not seen on the trail to explore my city a little bit more. There will be another post, very soon, about my exploration and the castle I chose!

References:

BBC News (2012) Timeline: Aberdeen’s City Garden Project Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-19332252 (Accessed on: 30/9/17)

Evolves (No Date) AECC Evolves Available at: http://www.aeccevolves.co.uk/ (Accessed on: 30/9/17)

Rennie, K. (2017) A Summer of Scottish Studies Available at: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/krennieuodeportfolio/2017/09/30/a-summer-of-scottish-studies/ (Accessed on: 30/9/17)

Rennie, K. (2017b) Take Me to Neverland Available at: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/krennieuodeportfolio/2017/01/21/take-me-to-neverland/ (Accessed on: 06/10/17)

Rennie, K. (2017c) Take a Wonder Into The Woods Available at: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/krennieuodeportfolio/2016/11/02/take-a-wonder-into-the-woods/ (Accessed on: 06/10/17)

Rennie, K. (2017d) To Trip or Not To Trip: The McManus Gallery Available at: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/krennieuodeportfolio/2016/10/21/to-trip-or-not-to-trip-the-mcmanus-gallery/ (Accessed on: 06/10/17)

Rennie, K. (2017e) History and Literacy Outdoors! Available at: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/krennieuodeportfolio/2015/12/03/history-and-literacy-outdoors/ (Accessed on: 06/10/17)

Say No to Kingsford Stadium (2016) Aberdeen FC and the ‘New Stadium’ – A History of Propaganda, Myth and Failure Available at: http://www.nokingsfordstadium.org.uk/2016/08/12/aberdeen-fc-and-the-new-stadium-a-history-of-propaganda-myth-and-failure/ (Accessed on: 30/9/17)

Visit Scotland (2016) Scotland’s Castle Trail: Explore Aberdeenshire Available at: https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/media/10248/scotlandscastletrail.pdf (Accessed on: 30/9/17)

Scottish Government (2009) Curriculum for Excellence Social Studies Experiences and Outcomes Edinburgh: Scottish Government

Transport Scotland (2017) AWPR – New South Section Bridge Set to Open Permanently Available at https://www.transport.gov.scot/news/awpr-new-south-section-bridge-set-to-open-permanently/ (Accessed on: 30/9/17)

Transport Scotland (No Date) Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route – Balmedie to Tipperty Available at: https://www.transport.gov.scot/projects/aberdeen-western-peripheral-route-balmedie-to-tipperty/aberdeen-western-peripheral-route-balmedie-to-tipperty/ (Accessed on: 30/9/17)

First day at Nursery!

On Wednesday, as my previous blog post stated, I was off for my first day of nursery for part of my Transition Project at university. The nerves this morning were there a little bit but not as much as the night before.

The minute I walked into the school, I was greeted by a lovely receptionist at the front desk for the school which automatically made me feel more relaxed.  When I arrived at the nursery, they weren’t exactly expecting me. Which seems to be the issue whenever I arrive at a school so thankfully that never made me nervous at school. I was introduced to the staff at the nursery which was a team of 16 ladies for a nursery which can have 60 3-5 year olds and 10 2 year olds in their panda room. Although, they currently aren’t working at full capacity.

Immediately, this amount of children and the size of the nursery was a big change from the nursery I went to which was about half the size in both respects. I had not yet seen the size of the nursery but I was imagining it to be quite big. Much to my surprise, it was about half the size I expected however it did have a big outdoor space to play. Outdoor play is something I am hugely passionate about due to the positive impacts it makes on childhood; the statistics on how well the Scandinavian countries, from whom outdoor play holds a substantial part of their pedagogy for early years’ education; and because many of the fond memories I have of my childhood are from playing outdoors with my parents.

The afternoon in a nursery was very similar to an episode of “The Secret Life of Four Year Olds” from channel 4. There was a lot going on for the children to choose from but apart from at the beginning and the end of the session there was no structure to the day; it was all free play. When the children first come in, they are spilt into six groups of ten (when the nursery is a full capacity) to have a chance to speak with one of the nursery teachers* and to do the register amongst other things.

The group I was placed with for the beginning was consolidating what they had learnt yesterday from their visit from “Farmer Jill”. Firstly, I thought the fact that they had left this consolidating until today instead of the group time at the end of yesterdays session was a fantastic idea. This meant that the children could go away yesterday and think about what they had learnt , giving them time to process all of the information they had learnt before they had to summarise their knowledge. This was very similar to what I can imagine a structured lesson with a small group of Primary 1 pupils could consist of. When we began the questions on consolidating their knowledge were very closed questions such as “can you remember who came to visit yesterday?” but this meant that all of the children knew the answer but the same children were always the ones who wanted to speak which quickly became chaotic was three or four children were shouting out different things. The children’s group leader* improvised and had the children pass round one of the spaces which meant that the children all had a chance to share what they could remember from yesterday and what they enjoyed most. This first half an hour of the afternoon session was very structure and the children were sitting for a long time before they got to play. However, I can see this as beneficial for the children for when they are moving into primary school and are expected to have structured lessons all day very soon.

The rest of the afternoon was free play for the children. One of the big things I noticed was the lack of interaction with technology. There were two computers and one smartboard that the children, as far as I am aware, can use. However, the children were much more interested in doing activities such as baking, making puzzles, arts and crafts but mainly they were interested in playing games outside including tig and tag and hide and seek. To see children enjoying playing outdoors in the current age when technology is an ever growing medium and outdoor play is steadily decreasing was very encouraging to see.

One of the big things I have observed with the teachers in the nursery today, is their range of tone of voice and their excitement when talking with the children. I was always aware that this would be something I would need to work on when going into an early years setting as my ability to change of my tone of voice with ease can be rather limited. To be able to observe how the nursery teachers do it and how the convey excitement when the children are excited about something is definitely something I am paying close attention to. It was also when the children were speaking over one another in group time, the teacher was never cross or shouted at them but the way she spoke when she asked them to allow someone else to have a turn meant the children understood what they were doing was not kind to the person whose turn it was to speak. I am hoping that through observing this practice over the next 8 weeks that to be able to pick up and replicate some of their skills to be able to improve my practice for my third year placement.

Overall, I had a fantastic first day at nursery: there were many great opportunities to observe, learn, build bonds with the children and most importantly, play. I am thoroughly looking forward to going back after the October break.

 

*As I have not yet had the chance to ask permission to name the teachers in my reflections, they will currently stay anonymous.