Category Archives: The joys of learning at 50+

2015 beckons with excitement

A week of 2015 has passed. Already! Awwwks. :/

This was my Tweet-of-the-morning, this morning. (Will I ever get past micro blogging and onto more serious blogging? *sighs*)


Hubby took me on a lovely holiday-cum-sort-out-our-storage break in South Africa.


There was fun and laughter, family and friends. And tears for the emotional moments. Like finding this…

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/831/30226797/files/2015/01/img_4496.jpg our first date…

and these…

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/831/30226797/files/2015/01/img_4505.jpg     /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/831/30226797/files/2015/01/img_4570.jpg

My dad…proud as punch with his grandson  / our little lady in her Christening dress

Finding myself back in Doha on Christmas day took me into the pits of despair….”Nooooo! I don’t want to be here!”

But after a week of moping (couldn’t even walk the dog!)…I was reminded of a gorgeous teapot I once saw while window-shopping with my best friend…

…it said: “BLOOM WHERE YOU ARE PLANTED”.  The moment stuck with me, since I was on my way back to Doha then too. Right, let’s do this! Get on with life in the Middle East!

2015 beckons with excitement…I don’t have to feel it in my bones, it’s a fact! 😀 We’ll be grandparents for the first time in 10 weeks from now *huge grin breaks out*; I’ll be graduating after passing my Bachelor’s degree (with distinction) *grins more widely*; joining a library association; volunteering (for practical experience); and finally, studying more on Indexing/Cataloguing. A busy year indeed! God willing!

I guess this blog will move on from recording Distance Learning experiences, to more day-to-day posts (or in my case, more month-to-month posts 😉 ), in my quest to chase my dream of finding that perfect “bookish” job.
 clipart used with permission [© Copyright]




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Sitting in the calmness of this Beaufort West garden, contemplating the stressful rush of adrenalin that was the last 9 months, it seems surreal. As if one life was lived adjacent to another.


It seems so unreal to know that my studies are over…I did it!! I have a degree…Bachelor of Information Science. So far, of 5 results, 3 are in…all distinctions. So pleased.

And here we are, in South Africa, enjoying a break before the next phase of our lives… I hope to volunteer in libraries for 6 months, we will become grandparents in March, I hope to be in Aus for the birth, and hoping that my graduation ceremony won’t be at the same time. Then I will look for a job in Doha, until such time that we are sure we need to settle elsewhere. Please God, guide us.

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Exam fever…

It’s that time of the year…I pick up a book to study and I get sleepy. Suddenly I remember the email I forgot to send, or that recipe waiting to be made. Oh, and look at the pile of washing, plus the garden needs weeding! Yep… Anything but studying! Got to get to it! It’s the final stretch…in two months all the hard work of DL can be over. Woohoo *claps with delight*

The practical portfolio is printed and ready for the courier. SUCH a relief! Hoping it gets a good grade.


One thing I realised from doing this portfolio is the strength of my passion about school libraries! After last week’s final visit to get pupil demographics, I felt SO sad to see a school full of kids being disadvantaged because adults, who are stuck in the past, don’t utilise and support the school library.

After exams, perhaps a study-no-more “honeymoon” break with hubby. Thanks to him that I have reached the end. Brandtie, I salute you!


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Social media in schools

Here are some interesting viewpoints on social media in schools.
Interesting. Just wondering if it would work in all cultures.

On the Distance Learning front…
I’ve been reading a lot for essay purposes… just two left! Woohoo! I’ve had essay-glut-syndrome… My brain does not want to cooperate anymore.
I haven’t visited the school this last month. I did give them a copy of the SWOT and a copy of my ‘way forward’ planning for the library. I’ve had ZERO comment/feedback, which leads me to think they are not impressed. Wonder what my lecturer’s opinion will be. Gulp. I know I’m making myself horribly vulnerable, but…watch this space for feedback on that issue.

Incidentally, I recommended blocking Facebook access on the library computers… It’s just so obvious why the Yr 12s and 13s prefer the PCs facing the wall! *thinks bad setup*

On other news…
My two Aspies (hubby and son) came home with a puppy 3 weeks ago, much to my horror at first…but it was love at first sight for all of us, and there you are…an instant, unasked-for, unplanned, edition to our family.

Of course all disciplining/feeding/control of said pup falls in my quarter! Sigh! And all while I chase those darned deadlines and really, really, need to concentrate! Oh well, ‘concentrate’ has been out the window! I plod on, counting down to November – the month of bliss – when my studies will be over!
Needless to say he is so adorable, feels the love, and therefore rules the roost!
Till next time…


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The SWOT analysis, SSR and an Asperger’s challenge

A month ago I shuddered when we were assigned the academic portfolio tasks. I thought, Me? Do a SWOT analysis? You’ve got to be kidding.  Two days ago I handed the completed SWOT over to the school, just for their info. Oh my word! *sighs*  It might not sound like a big thing to anyone out there, who may read this, but it was for me.  A personal achievement; proof of academic growth and professional confidence.  Woohoo! I feel good.  Now on to the ‘strategic planning for the way ahead’.  Okay.  Gulp. I can do this!

Not to say that all that is in the SWOT will make for happy reading…but that’s ok with me, because truth be told, the media centre of this particular school is stuck in the 60s!  While I spent the morning there, I had an opportunity to watch yet another (extremely) painful lesson of ‘silent reading’ for 30 minutes.  I place this in inverted commas because those Year 7s did NOT read! They stared blankly into space, laid on their arms, with some staring at the same page for the full lesson.  {You see, hidden in the stacks, it’s easy for me to observe these goings-on.} The teacher duly proceeded to mark classwork, and only when he heard a whisper did he seem to surface, separated one boy from the group and resumed his marking. The boy fumingly brooded for the rest of the lesson!  I had to wonder what was going on in this boy’s mind. For him it was a dreary 30 minutes – punishment, boring and useless. This was a missed opportunity to bring enthusiasm and discovery into a very dull mind.

I was just reading an article by Siah and Kwok (2010:168) on SSR (sustained silent reading) and discovered that it was a programme proposed and implemented in the 60s and 70s. Well, in my opinion, THAT IS WHERE IT BELONGS!  But then, some say there are those who appreciate and benefit from it. Really?! Maybe those from privileged or professional families, where parents are academically minded; or where parents are readers, engaged with their children – reading WITH them, reading TO them.  Perhaps my loathing of SSR is because I’ve only had opportunity to witness it here, in a non-reading culture. It does not work here. 

What’s that I hear? Teacher’s tired?  Oh, right, the last day of the week is a challenge? It’s a lesson ‘off’ for the teacher!  A chance to catch up on marking perhaps? A chance to gossip with the librarian?  Or rather, a chance to show how well you can punish, or embarrass, the individual who hates reading. 

Talking of hating reading…a statistic I saw last week, claimed that 1 in 50 children are being diagnosed with Autism/Asperger’s Disorder (no, it’s NOT a disease). Do teachers know the symptoms?  Would they know when they are confronted with a child with Asperger’s?  I think not.  Mainstream teachers are not supposed to encounter special needs. Yet they are! In increasing numbers!  With that rate of diagnosis, they’re in almost every other class, and counting those who are undiagnosed, you can bet your bottom dollar – they’re in every class today!  And, dear librarians, they’re in your library every day. And for the most part, they hate reading.

What qualifies me to talk so knowingly about Autism/Asperger’s?  Well, you see, our son was diagnosed only 18 months ago, at the age of 28!  All his life he was different. Normal, yet different!  He was odd. On another planet. (Aren’t we all, say the wise-cracks.) All his life he battled at school.  Hated reading, hated speaking.  Played differently, couldn’t cope with theory. Quietly observed life go on around him, with a question mark all over his face, wanting to be out, flying on his bike… Whenever we followed advice to take him for a diagnosis, there was none.  He’ll come by, they said.  He’s a late developer, they countered.  It’s neurological…speech dyslexia! Abused! said one. Naughty! said another. And finally, at the age of 18, an esteemed educational psychologist in Johannesburg told us, in front of our son, that he would not be worth anything! “Useless. Put him back in school so he can learn something!” said the man.  You see, I had refused to give up on my son, years back, and we had taken up home schooling.  (The method we followed worked very well with him, and he finished Year 12.  But that’s another story, for another day.)  This ‘professional’ only saw the word “home schooled” and was blinded by bias against it. He did not look deeper, to see the person he was testing.  He did not look into my son’s soul.  (Incidentally, my daughter was also home schooled throughout high school, and today she is a qualified primary school teacher.  A very successful one!)

Home-schooling days 2004

Home-schooling days 2004

Back to Asperger’s.  You see, no two people with autism are alike.  And with Asperger’s, some on the higher end of the spectrum are diagnosed only into their twenties, because they have learned to mask and hide the disorder, by means of coping mechanisms.  Suddenly, when they are supposed to be able to do certain things, take part in certain activities, arrange their business, hold a relationship, hold down a job – life suddenly becomes unstuck, and they cannot cope.  This is what happened to my son.  Once he lost his job, it all became clear in the year thereafter.  Asperger’s was confirmed.  If only we had known. If only specialists/teachers/doctors in South Africa during the 80s and 90s had been able to diagnose this.  But they couldn’t, didn’t.  My challenge to you, whoever you may be, is to inform yourself on Asperger’s.  Know what it is.  Sooner or later, you will encounter it.  Could be you’re already dealing with someone who has this disorder, and you don’t know why he/she is so damn frustrating.

Because we didn’t know, we sent him on to college, expected him to do what he could to build a career.  When he failed at one thing, he tried another.  After years of heartache, expenses, struggles and pain, he finally attained a Commercial Photographer’s Certificate!  His talent blossomed. Today he is a wonderful landscape photographer, brilliant at post production, without a job and an income, but attempting to build a Freelancing business. Gus 2012 
Certainly not useless! (Asperger’s people usually have a higher than average IQ.)  After 8 years of trying to ‘make it out there’, he has moved back in with us as he can’t live alone.  However, he is a person in his own right, living life to the fullest that he possibly can.  Not disabled, differently abled!

Moral of this rather lengthy post … look into a student’s eyes and see who is there.  Find what triggers his/her excitement and develop it. Connect. Information is for everyone…not only for the cooperative, obedient, few. Oh, and avoid SSR!


Aspienaut – Wired Differently.

Siah, P & Kwok, W. 2010. The value of reading and the effectiveness of sustained silent reading. The Clearing House 83:168–174.

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Positive encounters

The friendly librarian welcomed contact again, and off I went to pay her a visit to explain what the practical portfolio involves and how it may impact her library, should she give me the go ahead to use her library as focus. I wanted her to think about it for a couple of days, but straight away she was excited!
“Come,” says she, ” we’ll pop in on Bob and I’ll introduce you to him”.
” Who’s Bob?”
“Ah, he’s head of Secondary”, she replies.
It was cold outside, kids just arriving for school, busy atmosphere all round. We step into a smaller building – main reception and offices. We are shown into an office. He is really friendly, listens to my hurried responses to his questions, politely offers support from academic-minded staff members if I need it, and then asks me to send him my CV so they know who’s on campus. “Right,” says I, “as soon as I’ve emailed the Principal. Would you like me to cc you?”.
“Oh, sure,” he goes, “please do.”

We walk out and she says, “Now for Bob.”
Shocked, I ask, “But who was that?”
“Oh, that was the Principal, Jack.”

My head spun! I wanted to run back and apologise! Didn’t I hear his name? Didn’t I see a sign? Oh, Sandra, you are dumb! I just asked the man if I could cc him, for crying out ‘loud!

“Don’t worry,” says the librarian, “he’ll just think you were referring to the head of secondary! It is the secondary library after all, that you’ll be dealing with.” Phew! Ok, but that did not make me feel good as we stepped into Bob’s office…and now came an intro…”Bob, this is Sandy”. LOL. I’m convinced there had been no introduction to the Principal!

All in all, everyone was welcoming and positively looking forward to seeing the results of my Practical Portfolio research project! Everyone except moi!


The next post is a pic I took on the day.

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Hello blogging world!

It’s Winter 2010…two weeks to Christmas. I’m embarking on this thing called Blogging. Feeling brave.

Just returned from Brisbane where we attended our lovely daughter’s graduation ceremony. Can’t believe she has qualified already. Where did time go? And I’ve just completed my first year of studies while working FULL TIME. Needless to say, I resigned, so that I could rather study full time.  But now I find I’m in two minds regarding what I should do…find a job? Study full time? I’ve just registered for four 2nd yr modules….four! That’s a lot for me. Decisions, decisions… Oh well, MERRY CHRISTMAS to anyone on the Information spectrum who might read this! 🙂

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