Mr Brown says

Mathematics, food and walking

Who is Mr Brown?

I am Rob Brown, I am a teacher, an opinionated one at that. This is a placeholder to collect information on aspects of my life that I like to keep a track of. These include at the moment: teaching, cooking and walking. I have been known to delve into politics and religion every so often, but let’s hope not too often.

Essentially I am a thief. I enjoy reading blogs and plan to take my favourite ones and do worse mini versions of them mapping my life rather than theirs.

Why do I write so much that so few people care about? I enjoy documenting my life, it is part of my reflection process. Publishing it encourages me to actually do it rather than put it off. It helps me think more clearly and completely. It also helps me to let a thought go.

Food

I like my food. I have had a funny time with it in the past at various times starving myself, eating rubbish and drinking a tad too much but rarely, until fairly recently, cooking. I wanted to chart my time improving and practicing cooking.

I thieved the idea of the food section of the blog from Jack Monroe, a friend of mine based in Southend. They became sort-of famous when blogging about living on a very tight budget. I knew Jack well during this period and take against the abuse received online. Jack blogs now at https://cookingonabootstrap.com/.

From Jack I borrow the idea of pricing up my meals based on real life shopping budgets rather than unrealistic bulk buying or family cooking. However my focus is different. I am less hard up but I face another constraint. Cooking when living alone presents its own challenges that I will look to explore. Recipes designed for family dining either end up costing the earth (you still have to buy 6 celery sticks and a whole jar of tamarind paste), filling up your freezer or making you fat. Is this challenge insurmountable? Furthermore as a lazy man washing up and it’s impact is a consideration almost above all others.

Walking

I have recently moved to West Cumbria a 15 minute drive from the border of the national park. I did this to improve my lifestyle and work life balance. I have long known that when stuck indoors with no sunlight I can get moody and down, far more than is normal. I am not one to turn to doctors or anti-depressants which has I stayed in Ipswich would have become inevitable; I have looked to improve my lifestyle instead. When going on my first holiday in 8 years or so staying in Ambleside I fell in love with the Lakes. The views are incredible, the loneliness unrivaled and the fact a place can remain so unspoiled in such a prosperous country amazes me.

I am far from an able walker and find going uphill an extra challenge. Carrying a few extra stone can make steep gradients very difficult indeed. I not only carry more weight but need to carry more water and stop more often. This puts additional stress on my feet and calves especially. I enjoy charting my routes and showing my photos (yes I do know they are bad quality, I am not entering competitions I am collecting memories). My write-ups are hugely influenced by a blog http://walkthefells.net/index.html. I admire his studious approach to collating his database so effectively. You can sort his walks by starting point, fells reached, landmarks, date walked, length, amount of ascent, difficulty and more. If I remember correctly he has special section for finding sheepfolds. If in ten years I am able to walk even a tenth of the amount he does I will have been successful.

Teaching

This is my job. I love it. I care about being good at it. I still have a long way to go. I have too many influences in this domain to list them all. My posts broadly fit into a couple of categories:

  • Resource collation: I never make my own resources, I think time should be spent planning (both medium term sequencing and specific explanations or lines of questioning). I am essentially aim to be a rubbish resourceaholic, Mr Barton Maths or suffolk maths. The best producer of resources at the moment is Don Steward it would be a heresy if I didn’t mention this man.
  • I spend quite a lot of my spare time thinking about mathematics education. I dream about how I would run the perfect department. I imagine starting afresh with just Y7 (even just Y1 and Y7 sometimes) and thinking about how it should work. I am a million miles off at the moment and perhaps it can never happen. One day I will give it a go. I am influenced here by the work of Kris Boulton particularly when he writes about memory, Michaela community school who are apparently living my dream, these textbooks and every pupil I have ever failed by not being good enough.
  • I have worked for Ofsted, trained through Teach First and worked for a school in Special Measures. It will perhaps be unsurprising that I have opinions on the politics of education too. We live in interesting times, curriculum and grade descriptors changing, free schools and academy chains growing in significance and a Conservative Party pushing an ideological view on education first through Gove now May (perhaps). I will almost certainly voice my opinions on these matters too.

 

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