I hated every day of my school life. Was that enough reason for me to take up teaching as a career? In my own mind I believed I could give kids a better time at school and yes, the students in my classes did indeed have a ‘good’ time. My only hope was that the ‘good’ time would allow them to learn in a stress-free, stimulating environment. Mostly it worked but there were those days that could have been better.
Years later I was fortunate to be given an extra year at university to study special education. This was so exciting as it gave me the opportunity to explore extra strategies. I had been a child who did not fit into the school system and as a specialist teacher I was passionate about finding pathways for students who were deemed failures at school. In most of these cases I found that they displayed intelligence in other areas so I was thrilled to come across Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. It struck a real chord with me as we began looking at ‘How are you smart’ rather than ‘How smart are you.’
At the same time Edward De Bono’s notion of thinking outside the square really piqued my interest and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to use some of his methods while developing my own. I went on to write a series of books called ‘Thinking Sideways’ published by Oxford University Press, which incorporated opportunities for students to think differently. I now believe that this was a precursor to the methods used in some schools today when introducing philosophy to young children. I am excited about this as the skills developed by introducing philosophy at an early age, are skills that are vital in today’s world, where there is a need for creativity and innovation. There are many benefits not found in standardised testing. These include critical thinking, learning to understand other people’s view points among other skills.
I left education feeling rather disillusioned, and moved into the corporate space, never dreaming that I would be wooed back to the educational domain. Yet here I am. I still love working with adults and will do so until I die, but I would never give up the chance to do something that I feel may be of benefit to children. Thus, I have spent a number of years working on an online language program and then recently I was asked to write a children’s book incorporating the alphabet and rhyme. So, Ants in Pants and Bees in Trees was born. Alphonso Ant’s journey to find a way to stop his ants from fighting, lends itself to good philosophical discussions which encourage children to be curious and seek their own answers to questions they might have. I have provided some suggestions as to how to start the process and hope they may inspire teachers and parents to use the book to stimulate children. It is full of mystery and intrigue and children can come up with their own solutions. I hope it will provide lots of discussion and fun.
Ants in Pants and Bees in Trees is available at Amazon and other outlets as well as my website www.traillblaze.com.