South London Photographer: In a field in Italy

I’m writing my blog on my phone this week which I’ve not done before. Not sure how eloquent or correctly spelled I’ll be given I’m using iNotes, a tiny QWERTY board and horribly overpriced internet access to upload it – but it might end up being concise and to the point through necessity. I really must learn to edit more aggressively, I know.
I actually find writing really enjoyable but relatively hard work and throughout school and university could barely string a written sentence together. An English A level tutor said he couldn’t understand how I could be so vocal and full of ideas in class and yet so utterly inept when it came to writing my thoughts down – perhaps he wasn’t quite so blunt as that but looking back I can’t help thinking, errrr… Shouldn’t it have been his job to try and help me work out why my writing was such a mess given he was an English teacher?

Actually he turned out to be a bit of an oddball and stopped telling me my ideas at least we’re good after I refused a lift home with him.  Given that I was 19 at the time and he was old, hairy and somewhat oleaginous it’s hardly surprising I was wary. And how much more beneficial it would have been if instead of being weird he’d suggested a test for possible dyslexia or at the very least helped me to come up with a more thoughtful way of planning an essay. Frustrating! (Perhaps he didn’t have a daughter of his own so couldn’t imagine  how his actions affected me.)
I know he wasn’t in any way responsible for my dire attempts to write down remotely cohesive arguments throughout school but he sure as hell didn’t help matters! As it is I had to wait until my late twenties to work out how to structure a sentence, then a paragraph, then a whole essay by myself. Well, it’s a good job we all live for far longer now. Hopefully I have time to make up for the years of not writing when I could have and should have been doing it.
I do remember that I loved story telling as a very young child but was put off at around about aged 7 when my teachers stopped being encouraging and started saying ‘no good’, ‘could do better’, and giving me really poor grades. I’m exceedingly pleased for my children that teaching practise has evolved significantly since the 70s – nowadays if someone isn’t doing as well as they might there are plenty of routes available to explore the possible reasons. True, they’re not always accessed and much depends on social status and personal familial expectations.

There is still much ‘room for improvement’ but a lot of that is about how society operates in relation to class, money and politics, rather than a lack of understanding about learning styles. And at least school reports are now more than the hastily written list of scribbled generic phrases we were given. In fact, I’m always incredibly impressed with the fantastically detailed reports I receive at the end of the year for my kids.  Me being me, of course, I always well up or shed a few tears of pride when I read the positive comments that most teachers work so hard to include in every pupil’s feedback. And along with those positive words I have yet to see a report that didn’t also contain some constructive pointers about how to improve where necessary. As I said before, it’s not always perfect but things have come a very long way since I was at school.
I recently received an automated email from WordPress, the platform that hosts this blog, congratulating me on publishing my 200th post. Statistically, most people who start blogs tend to abandon them, so I’m chuffed I’ve kept with it. I really enjoy writing now even though it takes time, I have to check everything again and again and again, and often I find mistakes after I’ve published so have to quickly go through (several times) and fix things.  I’m sure it wasn’t only the vagaries of 70s teaching practise that contributed to my slow educational development but suffice to say as I approach my 45th birthday in a few weeks time, I’m really only just beginning to get an idea about what I might do when I grow up. And as this year draws to an end I’m very much looking forward to the new one, and in amongst all the many things I hope to achieve I’m certainly planning on writing 200 more blogs about photography, learning to write, my family, and life as a somewhat chaotic, curly haired, and ageing mum. Well… That wasn’t so bad for a late learner writing in a field on a tiny phone. Happy New Year! (Although the bloody app absolutely refuses to recognise how I want my paragraphs… I guess you can’t have everything!)

All images taken on iPhone 6 (c)Sarah-Jane Field 2015





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Sarah Furniss

Family and corporate, portrait and event photographer working in London and surrounding area.