Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Hot water and School. And Barack Obama


I was going to tell you about something really really interesting and now I forgot completely what.


Anyway, apart from that thing I forgot, I wanted to share a bright idea for saving water and keeping warm.

Last summer I wrote some thoughts about saving water, and after a few months went by I was encouraged by a friend on Facebook posting to say she had been putting some of these into practice, and her family had a big rebate on their water payments – about $150!

I am less keen on washing in cold water during the winter, especially first thing in the morning when I’m still all warm from my nice cosy bed.  But with all the winter rain and snow, we don’t need the water saving up for the garden.  Plus, running the hot tap while the water gets warm takes longer in winter, because the house and all the pipes are cold after the long night – just in passing, non-UK friends; you do realise that here in England we are on the same latitude as parts of Scandinavia?  That it gets dark by 4pm in winter here, and the sun doesn’t rise until 8am – we have   l o n g   cold nights in winter. 

So – dilemma!  I don’t want to wash in cold water.  I don’t want to waste water.  I have no use for the water running off while the hot comes through.  What to do?

Aha!  Idea!

In the evening, I can make a hot drink and fill my very well insulated hot water bottle, and save money on heating by reading books or using my laptop to go online or watch TV, sitting in bed.    Then in the morning, I can take my still-warm hot water bottle, and tip the water into the wash basin for my morning wash.  With a bit of forethought I can even use the same water to flush the loo (I am back to water-closeting for the winter too).

The water smells faintly rubbery when it’s first tipped into the basin, but the fragrance of my lovely organic handmade soap soon overcomes.

I am very pleased with this new plan.

On a completely different topic, I don’t understand why schools have to be so all-or-nothing about attendance.  Colleges and universities allow people to sign up for specific courses – why can’t schools?

Where I live, the tiny children usually start on a half-day, and are fine with that.  Then it all goes mad and they have to go all day and every day until they’re eighteen, not just attending all day long but filling up evenings and weekends with homework.  And usually they are sent home for the holidays with a pile of assignments to complete for the start of the new term.   

I think it would be great if school participation could be a pick’n’mix system.  Children could sign up to the classes they were interested in with the teachers they liked.  Priority might be given to the full-time students, but home-schoolers or part-time students could come along as much or as little as they wished.   I think many children might enjoy going to school just in the mornings and with no homework. I just can’t see what would be wrong with that.

This morning over breakfast, we were talking about falling asleep.  Since I’ve been studying Eckhart Tolle’s teaching, I’ve become much more aware of my internal thoughtscape, and my lucid dreaming has very much increased.  Last night I was snoring in my sleep, and I registered that inside my head, my consciousness shrunk back from the external world, snoring sounds different from when awake.  I knew I was asleep, knew I was aware of the snoring, but also knew I was withdrawn to some extent from the regular perceptions of my waking self.  How cool is that^

So at breakfast time we were chatting about this, and Hebe started talking about falling asleep – about it being like a computer shutting down.  She demonstrated what it feels like, like this:

Then we got onto talking about work deadlines, and working late while simultaneously falling asleep, experiencing that repeated shutting down.  Hebe said she usually just goes to bed and gets up earlier – then she remembered sometimes starting school essays at ten o’clock at night – necessitated by having just so much homework to do.

And it seems to me that this is a real failing of school education – there is a great deal of input and output, but almost no time at all for the reflection, the digestion of ideas, which results in really good quality work.  In my work as an adult, as a writer, I should say the bulk of it is done while I am to all appearances doing absolutely nothing – drifting, being, wondering, imagining, roaming the internet looking at pictures and films and reading articles, reading books, sitting by the fire or by te sea, walking in the woods, just thinking. 

Hebe pointed out that in school the main idea is that you regurgitate the data the teacher has just passed on.  Sure.  But what’s the point of that?  This is what we have reference books for!

All creative thought, ingenious imaginative original thought, needs time without pressure to wonder and reflect.

Changing the subject again - I loved Barack Obama's second term inauguration speech.  I've only read the transcript - it's here - but I'm going to look for a video of it to watch and listen to.


Rachel marsh said...

I negotiated part-time school for my son when aged 14. Several other students were also doing so for various reasons (caring for parents etc), so enlightened secondary schools can do it!

Pen Wilcock said...

Such good news! Well done! x

Rapunzel said...

School. I do see your point, but think it wouldn't work for the majority simply because I suspect the purpose of school is not really to educate or enlighten children.
The purpose of school is to firstly contain children for several hours a daywhile their parents are elsewhere. Secondly to prepare the children to be obedient little sheep who will trot off to the factory or the cashier's station at Stuffmart and slave away for the betterment of our expansion based economy.
We need a great many not too bright people who are willing to do the same dull thing over and over for hours on end and who are not questioning the value of that but are just glad to have a job. And glad to buy more and more stuff.

I know, I'm quite cynical about this.

My own kids got a mix of homeschool and public school. The older pair homeschooled till age 14/13 then did high school and on to work. I have it on good authority that they both loathed high school. They are quite bright and have learned an amazing amount of things outside of school of course.
The younger pair entered public school at ages 8/6 and left by their own choice at ages 10/8 to become autodidacts. Half a dozen years later Middle Child went on to college, graduated nicely and teaches music in a private school.
Youngest child went to work in retail at age 16 and worked her way through the ranks. She happily manages a shop with her "third grade education".

People need unregimented time to become themselves. The unrelenting schedule of most school systems disallows that.

On the one hand I think children need most to have a great deal of freedom and interested adults to help them learn the things that interest them.

On the other hand I realize as stinky as I think school is, there are children for whom it is heaps better than their home life.
So the whole thing for me remains a perpetual dilemma.


I shall take the advice of your church child and endeavor to keep hat red out of my thinking.

PS- my security code below is henpart. Hm.

Pen Wilcock said...



Yes - I think school is a lifesaver for some kids - and ruins life for others. So interested to hear about the choices you made with your brood (to return to the henpart analogy) xx

Pilgrim said...

Around here, some homeschooled students do take a few classes at the public school. This seems to be left up to the discretion of each school district. Some are open to it, some not.

Our son has never gone full days. Early on, he had lots of therapies in the afternoons, then we had some skill development that needed to be worked on outside of school, intensively. Also, his stamina has not been up to full days, much of the time.

The benefit of school is mostly social, and getting some exercise, at this point,in the mornings.

Hawthorne said...

Great minds think alike, Ember! I've just moved into the large bedroom again, having redecorated and got rid of everything that had bad memories, and am instigating a 'jug and bowl' type washstand. For warm water in the morning I was also thinking of my hot water bottle, or maybe a flask with the rest of the kettle water from making the hot water bottle at night.

Now, school....hmmm....I could go on and on about this!! One of the reasons I left Primary teaching is the relentless pressure on children to reach 'targets', regardless of individual children's needs, and pressure on teachers to make sure a certain percentage of the class reach those blessed targets too. I would scrap all that, put children in much smaller classes, in much smaller schools, and concentrate on each child's learning journey. Why on earth do we herd our children into these huge institutions? How can a teacher possibly deal with all those needs properly? You end up either hurrying the whole class on, leaving the slower learners further and further behind and more and more prone to behaviour problems, or you slow down which makes the faster learners bored and incurs the Wrath Of Ofsted.

I'd better stop there. The way He did it may have been tough, but I'm so glad God got me out of teaching!

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi Pilgrim - that's interesting! Sounds as though you have a good balance. As to the social side of school, though it can be a bit of a bear garden, my children's grandfather (a headmaster) observed that children always find their way to others like themselves, and we found that to be true.

Hawthorne - I love those jug and bowl stands - the enamel ones! Of course any table, jug, bowl will do fine! Plastic (though hardly beautiful!) is handy because it's light to carry with water in.
I don't know why we ever set off on this runaway train of indoor plumbing - jugs, bowls, thermos flasks, commodes all worked just fine and left a much more flexible home. Bring back the fireplaces and scrap the plumbing, say I!

Unknown said...

Having lived with a commode & the dunny truck...um, no. I like my indoor dunny with the shiny push button. ☺

School ~ we've done that just about every way possible. When I was teaching still the grade 1 teacher was happy to have Cait in her class for those couple of hours. After the first couple of times Cait didn't enjoy it so she stayed home with her dad & I worried all morning that she was inventing diabolical things her dad wasn't noticing. Later she did choir, band & sport with the school but her academics always at home with me then that too stopped & her music moved into more professional realms. I have great respect for teachers & frankly the government should get out of education & let the teachers get on with it. Stopping. You really don't want to hear my rant on our education system.

As for water ~ I am extremely grateful I live in a climate where my pipes never freeze but I have something of a gypsy mentality: only running water is clean water. I try but the sight of standing water for bathing or washing makes me feel icky. Obviously I am primitive enough to want to hang my washing in a net bag in the middle of a fast flowing stream.

Blessings on you & yours, Pen. ☺

Pen Wilcock said...

To Sophie - Thank you so much for your message! I will be in touch with your mother right away! My love to her! xx

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi Ganeida :0)

Running water - yes, I remember reading in Lilian Beckwith's books about bed sheets being left pinned to the streambed of fast-flowing streams by large rocks, and coming out beautifully clean. x

BLD in MT said...

I think anytime you can make one thing serve many purposes that is a wonderful solution. I'd say warming you, washing you, and flushing is a grand way to stretch that water use out. Good idea!

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) Hi Beth! Waving! xx

Anonymous said...

Just wondering if you had heard of the Earthship movement? Started in Tucson, AZ I believe there is one in Brighton.

Pen Wilcock said...

Hiya - no I hadn'r heard of the Earthship movement - just looked it up - very interesting!! xx

Pen Wilcock said...

Donna (DMW Donna, not Donna Mercer) thanks for the Garbage Warriors link - I'll check it out later today! xx