Monday, November 28, 2016

Musing on life back in the UK

I have been back in the UK permanently now for just over 3 months. I must say that very much like my relocation to The Netherlands back in January 2011 that there has been a certain degree of 'reverse homesickness'.  There remain aspects of life in the UK that I find hugely frustrating while missing very much the atmosphere of The Hague.
These have however been more than compensated for by the sheer and simple fact that I am home and available for 'family time' from across the generations. I have been on hand to take my mum shopping, to actually attend musical events without the tiresome requirement of a flight!!! I have enjoyed Evensong at St Mary's Church and Sweeney Todd in Abertillery, and been on hand to assist my uncle in roof repairs at my mother's house.
Of course the main reason for my return was to facilitate 'working' from home, this has worked well to date as I have been able to pick up a few short term online projects which while being fun also have the advantage of supplementing my pension! I hope that this work continues as it is great to actually be able to take time out to walk the Welsh countryside, even though I am technically working. Also it makes it  possible to revisit The Netherlands as a tourist in order to get a 'Dutch Fix'  I would contend that this is the best of all possible options and on balance I am more than happy that I made the move.....I will continue to Muse on things that I find intersting and hopefully....relevant?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Blog post from 21/09/2006

This blog will be the musings of a welsh Primary School teacher who should probably get out more !!!
There are some interesting things happening in the world of Web 2.0 at present with the upcoming K12 online conference which look as if it is going to be an interesting step in global communication using the web. The site is still looking for us out there to give them suggestions for the conference content - another step forward. I know that David Noble at Booruch is into skypecasting in addition to running an excellent blog and podcast. I guess the leading light in all Web 2.0 stuff is David Warlick he who must be the blog/pod guru. You see I told you that I should get out more !!!!
An issue that I would like some feedback on is, how in the rest of the UK ( excluding Wales) laptops for pupils run by e-Learning Foundation works out. Their development Director Ray Moore wrote an article in last week's TES (15th September) headlined Home Sweet Laptop where he was showing how the digital divide is growing between England and Wales in as much as in UK as a whole 58% of homes have a PC and 49% have internet connection, while in Wales the same figures are 51% and 41% apparently lowest in UK apart from Northern Ireland and getting wider( straw pole in my Year 3 class - 15 out of 29 with no PC access at home ). In Wales we do not have the laptop for pupils due to the policy of our Assembly to use their funds in other directions ( that's another story).
The aim is that parents agree to pay £3 per week in order to give their child access to a laptop for use in school and at home ( they have a tie up with AOL for free internet access) - while even £3 is a small amount of money, there will still be parents who will not see the worth of computer access even at that price while others will find even that amount quite high on a regular basis. I would like to know if this disadvantages these pupils even more than when there is no scheme at all - this is a problem that my headteacher wanted clarification on also.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY - Ddraig Goch Blog!

10 years ago on Thursday 21 September 2006 the Ddraig Goch Blog first appeared. In its first few years the blog was dedicated to educational technology. The main focus of the blog in its early days was the integration into education of the plethora of 'Web2.0' tools that were appearing at the time... almost weekly back in 2006-7. It appeared to me that educators were being almost 'blinded' by the new possibilities and that we weren't necessarily as a profession looking at the issue from a fully educational perspective. I am pleased to report that this has improved over the past decade as global educators have fully explored the educational aspects of new programmes and more recently 'apps'. Over the years since my blog began education and 'ed tech' has remained a focus, the blog has diversified as I have.... not always in the desired direction. The result is a very eclectic posting history, which I hope still has the aim of considering the blending of education and technology. Looking forward to the next 10 years.....Hip!Hip!Hooray!

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Relocation back to Wales

Since my late father's passing in November 2015 I have taken the time to re-evaluate my position. I consider myself to be hugely fortunate to have been offered the opportunity to relocate to The Netherlands in 2011. I would recommend to everyone that should an opportunity such as this arise in your life, that you seriously consider it. Of course there are strains placed on family life and relationships, however I firmly believe that the benefits of living abroad outweigh the negatives.
You gain the chance to view your own country as an outsider, this highlights the particular hangups that all countries and their citizens have about themselves. I am of the opinion that you gain a greater perspective on your own life and position from a global perspective.
I read a quote earlier today on Facebook from Tim Rylands - I'd rather look back on my life and say 'I can't believe that I did that', rather than saying I wish I'd done that. I fully agree with Tim's sentiment as it is not productive to look at what might have been. It would have been difficult to consider the 'what ifs' had I not taken the decision to relocate in 2011.
I know that personally I have grown in confidence and self worth as a direct result of having to live and work in a non English speaking country. I accept that the Dutch have very good English and use it regularly and that I worked in an English speaking environment. However, I believe that after over 5 years in the country that I began to think and react like a Dutch person.
The Netherlands is certainly a great country in which to enjoy the outdoor life, museums and the cinema ( with subtitles in Dutch). For me though the pull of 'the mother country' began to impact my thoughts more as we moved into 2016. My original plan was to retire and move back in 2017-18 however this shifted as 'homesickness' increasingly set in. In March I took the decision to resign/retire call it what you will? As with all such decisions, once made there was a sense of relief and the opportunity to look forward to new beginnings at home.... real home!
Time has moved swiftly from that decision and today I find myself back in Wales looking forward to getting back into the life of my small town..... I will of course miss my 'other life', however it will always be with me, and will influence me in the future.
There are aspects of Dutch life and culture that I will miss, no doubt I will require a few visits back in order to get my 'dutch fix'..... I will miss:

  • 'Real' Fresh Mint Tea
  • Savoury Pancakes ( at the Pannekoekhuis Sheveningen)
  • Bottled Belgian Beer ( Palm, Duvel and Le Chouf)
  • Pathe Cinema's ( Buitenhof in particular)
  • Hema
  • Those lovely custard slices from The Bienkorf
  • Dutch queuing 
  • Trams and buses ( 3 and 24)
  • Cycle lanes and priority for bicycles
  • Dutch 'Weekends'
  • My MuseumCard - and Museum Night
All of the above experiences and situations are locked in my heart and will not leave, I am sure that they will grow stronger with time.

From now on I am looking forward to new employment opportunities and to working from my home as a base.... and reconnecting with my 'Welshness'.

Thank you Holland for the experience and thank you to the IB for the opportunity.
Put the kettle on it's time for a cup of tea!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Did we ever consider our digital footprint?

Checking on an online app that I had first used back in 2007 prompted me to look back to when this blog began and it was.....Thursday 21 September 2006!
I am sure that when it all began for me that I did not pay much heed to the collective power of a decade of blogging. Back in 2006 I had no idea how long I would continue writing, or even if there was an audience for my random thoughts.... I am still unsure!
The blog first began as a test before I unleashed the power of blogging on my unsuspecting pupils in Cefn Fforest Primary School back in 2006. Little did I realise at the time that not only could it enthuse our pupils, but also that it would also give me a whole new group of online friends, many of whom I may never meet in the 'real world'.
What has 10 years taught me, mainly that I actually have the stamina to sustain my thoughts across a range of topics and of course a range of jobs. One truth that is certain is that I found the transition away from teaching and the classroom a challenge from a blogging perspective. As your pupils will tell you, writing for an audience is a powerful force. Once out of the classroom I lost that immediate contact with the group, dropped away from online forums that I had been active in, and eventually of course the blog lost direction.
There have been a few readjustments across the years, however, this blog remains the random thoughts of an untamed educator  released into the 'real world' ... this I suspect will never change.
I look forward to raising a glass of champagne on 21 September and wishing the Ddraig-Goch blog a happy 10th birthday!