In at the deep end with Bill and Ben

10th November 2000 at 00:00
MY brave, lovely daughter has learnt to swim. She was not confident in the pool and had a genuine revulsion towards getting water in her eyes or nose, but she has won through.

Formal swimming lessons did the trick, though I think I can take a lot of the credit for persuading her to submerge her head. This I did by inventing the Coronation Street game. We would both duck below the surface, one would say the name of a revered soap character and the other would try to guess who it was. Despite each name sounding like a short slanging match between Bill and Ben the Flowerpotmen, she kept coming back for more."Flobberwobblebubble!" "Fred Elliot?" "No, Curly Watts. Let's try again."

Shortly after managing her first breadth, she asked to go to the leisure pool in Livingston, following a recommendation by her cousin. I was not keen, as I generally find leisure pools to be full of low-flying nerds and prone to having bits of sticking-plaster on the changing-room floors. But we went, and it was fine.

I even found the place without difficulty. This was something of a miracle as I find Livingston hard to understand. I know how to get through the town in order to reach Edinburgh. I can get to the Almondvale Shopping Centre from Carluke, easy-peasy. Butput me in one part of Livingston and ask me to get to another bit and I'm lost.

The place to me is as Higher physics is to many pupils. I can handle parts of it but it's too complex a place for me to have a complete overview in my head. No doubt that would come with greater experience.

That is why, when it comes to teaching physics, I welcome the Higher Still approach. There are kids who are not going to get an exam pass in a subject like mine in under than a year, even if they got straight 1s at Standard grade. The unit test system means that these pupils still make some sort of measured progress in a session, even if they do have to come back again in S6.

Unit tests may be a pain in the arse to administer, but please don't tell me they are worthless . . .

unless, of course, you are making them worthless by telling your class the answers beforehand or some other such chicanery. There is still too great a jump from Standard grade and I would happily lose some content but, for those of us who previously had modules and Highers in the same class, Higher Still is an improvement.

And, if you don't agree with me, I've only one thing to say: Flobberbubbledobblewubble.

Gregor Steele can now find McDonalds in Livingston.

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