THE VALUE OF POSITIVE FEEDBACK

I am in the throes of sifting through an accumulation of teaching files and notes, as well as stacks of pictures, posters and papers. The time has come to really let go and to make space for other interests. This tedious – and rather dusty – process reminds me of the many hours I have spent preparing lessons and notes. I recall too that I spent even more time marking assignments.

Ideally, I would have preferred discussing issues with individual pupils. The pressure of limited classroom time, the syllabus, the needs of other children in the class, as well as extra-mural activities seldom allowed for this. I turned to marking as a means of one-to-one communication, using assignments as a means of showing how various improvements could enhance its readability; pointing out errors and how to avoid them; and always finding some aspect to praise, no matter how poor the final mark might be.

Marking a stack of assignments often saw me burning the midnight oil for I believed that work should be returned at the most 48 hours after submission if my comments were to be taken seriously. I also wanted those who wished to act upon them to be able to apply their understanding to their next assignment.

Positive feedback is encouraging, and a quick turnaround is part of that. How you couch your criticism is also important if you wish to encourage a child to improve. It is because my marking was really a ‘conversation’ of sorts, that I usually eschewed the traditional red pen in favour of using a pencil or other coloured pens – all softer on the eye. Rather than simply placing an impatient cross next to an incorrect answer, I tended to point out where / how the error might have been prevented.

It comes as no surprise that none of my children opted to become a teacher of English!

Among the pages of used paper is this one – as anonymous to me as it is to you, for I recognise neither handwriting.

It set me thinking: to my mind, a teacher should model the good expression – including sentence structure – expected in an assignment, as part of the hidden curriculum by which we transmit norms and values. For this reason the volley of simple sentences used in the comment is jarring – their only redeeming feature is that they express positive aspects of the child’s writing. The apology might have been appreciated, but how can a teacher have forgotten to mark an assignment? I hope that the appreciation of effort put “into your piece” might have assuaged the child’s feelings and made up for what seems to have been a lengthy delay.

I am a harsh critic. To me this comment smacks of insincerity and routine reactions quickly noted down. If the child put “so much effort” into the article, surely he or she deserves an overall appreciation of it?

KUDU AND OSTEOPHAGIA

In a wildlife quiz you would be correct in saying that Kudu are predominantly browsers which feed on a variety of leaves, pods, vines, and even succulents such as Spekboom and Aloes.

They are also known to graze on occasion.

What one seldom sees is Kudu eating bones.

This is the first time I have witnessed them doing so, although I understand it is a fairly common activity – especially during the winter when calcium and phosphorous are not readily available in plant form.

Eating bones is known as osteophagia and, in the case of these Kudu, is a way they can supplement their diet – in the way that we might pluck extra calcium or vitamin tablets off the shelves of a pharmacy. Note the shaggy winter coat of this Kudu.

During the time I was observing these animals, some appeared to be licking the bones; others picked up bones and dropped them; while others definitely chewed the bones.

IN THE WAKE

A wake comes in the aftermath of an action or event. The wake of a ship or even a small boat in the water is the area of recirculating water behind it as it moves through the water. We observe the wake as anything from a minimal flow of water in an ever-widening pattern, or as ripples. The movement of water birds has a similar effect:

A Red-billed Teal creating an ever-widening wake on the otherwise smooth surface of the water.

Here it is seen from a different angle.

A Little Grebe goes round in circles.

A perfect example of following in the wake is this African Spoonbill following in the wake of the Yellow-billed Duck, taking advantage of the churned up water to find food.

Finally, this is what happened to the perfect reflection of the Black-headed Heron when the ripples finally fanned out in its direction.

UNINTENTIONAL SIGNS OF THE TIMES

The COVID-19 pandemic is still coursing through the veins of countries around the world, changing our lifestyles and altering our perceptions. Taking advantage of this, KFC’s famous slogan finger lickin’ good was made fun of by their local rival, Nando’s, who suggested that consumers should wash their hands instead in light of the coronavirus. Recently I read that KFC is putting a pause on its famous slogan – for now. It is probably not seen as being a good thing to promote during this pandemic, when we are all called upon to regularly wash / sanitize our hands.

While waiting for the doors of the local supermarket to open this morning, I had time to peruse the slogans on the handles of their basket trolleys – they were well intentioned once, yet under these circumstances are open to a quite different interpretation:

This is not meant as a slur; merely as an example of a new thread of thought that wouldn’t have come to mind had the virus not embarked on a world tour!

https://www.businessinsider.co.za/finger-licking-nandos-asks-kfc-to-rather-reach-for-soap-amid-coronavirus-2020-3

https://www.sowetanlive.co.za/s-mag/2020-08-25-kfc-no-longer-finger-lickin-good-as-they-drop-famous-slogan/

 

GRAVELY INTERESTING

While in the Free State, I was initially attracted to this grave of Hatherley George Moor in the Garden of Remembrance in Lindley firstly because of the design of the Celtic cross and then by the inscription.

I couldn’t help wondering how a young man (only 28), the son of a churchman in Cornwall, would end up commanding the First West Australian Contingent during the Anglo-Boer War in South Africa. I do not pretend to have all the answers yet have enjoyed a little sleuthing on the internet to satisfy my curiosity. I discovered that in February 1900, the West Australian First Mounted Rifles Contingent were sent to the Colesberg district to join forces under General Clements – what a coincidence that Major Hatherley Moor’s father is noted as being in St. Clement in Cornwall.

During July 1900, the First West Australians formed part of the force which Sir Archibald Hunter led into the north-east of the Orange River Colony with the view of surrounding the Boer forces led by General Christiaan De Wet in the Wittebergen district. On the night of 15th July, De Wet, along with about 1 500 men and some guns, escaped from Slabbert’s Nek from where they reached the railway and cut the line. The ensuing engagement on the 19th July took the form of a running fight over about thirteen kilometres in the Palmietfontein area. This is when Major Moor was critically wounded in the hip and died shortly afterwards. Although he was initially buried at Palmietfontein, his remains were reinterred in Lindley’s Garden of Remembrance in 1958.

Hatherley George Moor, born in July 1871, was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in November 1890. He was a professional soldier who had seen service in Mauritius, South Africa and Rhodesia. It was in June 1899 that he was appointed to command the Permanent Artillery Garrison at King George’s Sound, Albany in Western Australia and he was promoted to Major on 14th October 1899.

Source of photograph: https://www.bwm.org.au/soldiers/Hatherley_Moor.php

I have not come across the term ‘ubique’ on a grave before. It is Latin for everywhere.

Rudyard Kipling penned a lengthy poem, Ubique, the title of which is derived from the Motto and Battle Honour of the Royal Regiment of Artillery.

You can read it in full at https://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/kipling/ubique.html. Here is an excerpt:

Ubique means the long-range Krupp be’ind the long-range ‘ill –
Ubique means you’ll pick it up an’, while you do, stand still.
Ubique means you’ve caught the flash an’ timed it by the sound.
Ubique means five gunners’ ‘ash before you’ve loosed a round.
 
Ubique means Blue Fuse, an’ make the ‘ole to sink the trail.
Ubique means stand up an’ take the Mauser’s ‘alf-mile ‘ail.
Ubique means the crazy team not God nor man can ‘old.
Ubique means that ‘orse’s scream which turns your innards cold!

Useful sources:

https://www.bwm.org.au/soldiers/Hatherley_Moor.php

https://www.angloboerwar.com/unit-information/australian-units/168-west-australia/408-west-australian-1st-contingent

https://familyhistoryact.org.au/boer_war/biography/moor.php