Category Archives: Education

I Am Malala – Malala Yousafzai

Hey Lovely People!

How are you all? I hope that September has treated you well and like me, you’re keeping warm from the rain outside. I noticed yesterday the leaves are starting to turn, clearly Autumn is upon us. Today I wanted to share with you one of the most inspiring books I’ve ever read: I Am Malala. Wow. There aren’t enough words for this book. Malala Yousafzai is a name that everyone has heard of so I wanted to read her story and what an amazing story it was for me.

What’s it all about?

The book is written in five parts, covering various points in Malala’s life. Part One covers Malala’s life ‘Before the Taliban’. She describes her childhood home in Swat Valley where Malala, her father Ziauddin, her mother Toor Pekanbaru and her two younger brothers Khush and Atal, lived. Ziauddin’s father, Rohul Amin was an imam and a teacher. Ziauddin studied a Master’s in English at Jehanzeb College. Malala was therefore surrounded by great thinkers and educated minds. Malala is very honest in her narrative, they are a normal family and her brothers irritate her.

“I don’t want to be thought of as the “girl who was shot by the Taliban” but the “girl who fought for education.” This is the cause to which I want to devote my life.”

Her father opened the Khushal School with a partner Naeem, who had to leave himself due to financial problems. So, Ziauddin found a new partner, Hidayatullah, who helped him to bring the school into profit. This profit enabled them to open more schools in the area. Toor Pekai would bring any children who were in need to live with them and Ziauddin would give them free places in the school where they could learn and thrive.

Malala spends time in her narrative explaining the changes in political regimes in Pakistan, the first drone strikes in Pakistan in 2004, following 9/11 in America and the 2005 Kashmir earthquake. I remember 9/11 in particular because it was my first day at secondary school. Just like Malala, many of us can relate to and remember events in history that have happened that have shaped our world today.

In Part Two, subtitled ‘The Valley of Death’, the narrative centres on the growing rise of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan in Swat. Back in 2006, Fazlullah began an ever increasingly popular radio broadcast where, initially advice was given on matters such as ritual ablution and drug abstinence. However, the focus of this changed to the condemnation of music and dancing. Finally, the instruction came that women were to stay in the home. To Malala, who loved to go to school with all the other girls, this was a complete travesty. Nevertheless, this did not stop her from getting her education. Malala was absolutely determined to go to school.

“Education is education. We should learn everything and then choose which path to follow.” Education is neither Eastern nor Western, it is human.”

The war in North-West Pakistan was still raging and the return of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto to Pakistan has devastating results. As an activist for women’s rights, her return led to her assassination. This murder was just the start as the Taliban began to commit further murders. Ziauddin Yousafzai continued to speak out against such violence. His daughter, Malala, began to write a BBC Urdu blog under the pseudonym Gul Mukau, sharing tales of how life was during this time.

“If one man can destroy everything, why can’t one girl change it?”

More woe descended upon Swat when after a Taliban edict in 2009, Malala’s school was forced to shut down. Malala and her family had no choice but to move to Shangla for the next three months.

Part Three is entitled ‘Three Girls, Three Bullets’. It is in this part where Malala describes her horrific ordeal with the Taliban.

“The Taliban could take our pens and books, but they couldn’t stop our minds from thinking.”

By 2009, the army have fought off the Taliban in Swat and the Yousafzai family return home. Malala’s school re-opens and she visits Islamabad with her school friends. Here she meets Major General Arthar Abbas and gives a public speech. Malala is used to giving regular public speeches with her father in various interviews. Each one bares the same message: criticism of the Taliban and the ineffectiveness of the army.

“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”

Mother Nature adds to the destruction of Swat, the 2010 Pakistan floods destroyed many buildings and left many people without food, clean water and electricity. Also, things are still very politically charged in Pakistan. CIA agent Raymond Davis murders two men and the Americans kill Bin Laden. The consequence of this is widespread mistrust of American influences in Pakistan by the public.

However, for Malala, it was like as usual. Malala began to win numerous prizes for her activism. She continues to speak out about a girls right to education. She appeared on Geo TV and visited the mausoleum of Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

Due to her courage at standing up for what she believes in, Malala started to receive death threats. This worried her parents immensely. In August 2012 when Zahid Khan was shot and killed, Ziauddin expected to be the next target. Malala also begins to worry that she too is a target but her focus is on her exams and she is desperate to study hard and do well.

“We were scared, but our fear was not as strong as our courage.”

However, what follows shocked me to my core, along with the rest of the world. After her Pakistan Studies exam on the 9th October, two men stop her bus and come aboard. They shout one thing: “Who is Malala?” Then three shots are fired.

“I told myself, Malala, you have already faced death. This is your second life. Don’t be afraid — if you are afraid, you can’t move forward.”

Part Four is subtitled ‘Between Life and Death’. We learn that one bullet travelled from Malala’s left eye to her shoulder and her two friends, Shazia and Kainat were also injured. Thankfully, not fatally.

Ziauddin gave a speech with the Association of Private schools before rushing to the hospital to be with his daughter. Her mother was learning to read and rushed home to pray. Malala was taken by helicopter to the Combined Military Hospital in Peshawar where she was then airlifted to a military hospital in Rawalpindi. On the 15th October, Malala was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham aboard a United Arab Emirates jet. However, her father refused to come as the rest of the family could not travel without passports. She made the journey with her medical team, alone.

“I reassured my mother that it didn’t matter to me if my face was not symmetrical. Me, who had always cared about my appearance, how my hair looked! But when you see death, things change. “It doesn’t matter if I can’t smile or blink properly,” I told her. “I’m still me, Malala. The important thing is God has given me my life.”

Part Five is called ‘A Second Life’. Malala woke up in the Birmingham hospital on the 16th October. However, her thoughts were not of herself or her injuries. She was obsessed with the location of her father and the safety of her family. She knew full well that she and her family could not afford medical treatment. Finally the medical team answered her questions.

Malala received 8000 cards and many many presents. Her family arrived 9 days later to join her in her recovery. In November Malala underwent major surgery to repair her facial nerve. The following January she was discharged from hospital. In February she underwent further surgery to get a cochlear implant.

The story ends with her new life in Birmingham. She missed Swat and her friends terribly. Yet, she decided to continue her activism, to spread the word about the importance of education. She wants to become know for “the girl who fought for education” rather than “the girl who was shot by the Taliban”.

“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”

Overview

This book was so inspiring, so shocking and everything in between. Education is a massive part of my life. I remember as a young girl going to school, never questioning it or even realising how lucky I was. Reading this book has made me appreciate my education so much more. As a teacher, I want to share this book with everyone. I’m not really into reading about political history but because this was in my lifetime, I felt I appreciated it more. Obviously, it is something that has been in the press a lot so I valued having Malala’s own words. This girl is so inspirational, thank goodness for her.

“We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.”

Finally, on a different note, today is the first day of Autumn. To celebrate, I’m launching a new swoosh at the bottom of every post. Hope you like it!

Big love all xxx

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Filed under Book review, Books, Education, Reading

Class of 2016

Hey guys! 

I’ve disappeared recently because everything is changing and that makes life very busy. I know it’s a fact of life, but I sometimes feel overwhelmed by lots of change at once. Also, I always feel slightly strange when Year 11s leave. It’s harder when they are an amazing group. I’ve been incredibly lucky, but again I’ve had an inspiration group. 

I feel genuinely honoured to work with young people. They are so unique and we need them; they are our future. 

Yet, the majority of us have demanding jobs with different pressures. I definitely have had times this year where I’ve felt tired/emotional/drained/overwhelmed/delighted all at once. It’s hard to ‘roll with it’ sometimes. 

I gave my Year 10s random images in a lesson and asked them to rank them. There was no criteria, I just wanted them to be able to justify their choices. The images were: a book, flowers, a clock digging a grave, numerous hands holding iPhones and a sign saying thank you. What fascinated me was the many hands with phones came out as most important. Yet, the discussion we had about the thank you sign was most poignant. 

Thank you’s seem to be ‘dying out’. In a world where everything changes on a daily basis, this appears to be left behind. The students seem to blame people’s attitudes. Some valued it as ‘less important’ than friendship. Some believed I was very ‘old school’ for believing in pleases and thank you’s. Hence why, when I received little thank you gifts, it hit home that actually, deep down, we all have moments of reciprocity. 

I was so touched this year to receive the following gifts. My boys clearly know me well! A giant cookie, a big box of chocolates, cards and a book I’ve never read with a personalised inscription. (All of which brought tears to my eyes.) I’ve had countless thank you emails and messages from my students. It makes everything worthwhile. Knowing you’ve made a difference, no matter how big or small. 

It all matters. A thank you can touch your heart in the deepest way. 


Prom was equally special. I don’t remember a time when I laughed so much. Again, the students were a credit to me. I just beamed the whole evening with pride. More thank you’s were given here too. (Maybe it’s not quite dying out just yet?!) 


So now I’ve got to focus on the next lot of students I need to help get through the next 12 months of school. Hopefully, I can help them as well. 

As I reflect now, feeling emotional whilst doing so, my lovely class of 2016 will have a special place in my heart, like the class of 2015 before it. (You can read about them Here) After all, if it didn’t matter, why would I even be doing this? 

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Big love xx

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Class of 2015 – Goodbye To A Group That Changed My Life. 

I’ll apologise now because this isn’t the type of post I would usually write. It’s not about books or bakes! I’ve been thinking and working on this post for a few a days now, yet I can’t seem to formulate it. I know what I think and feel, but it’s like I’ve lost the ability to spill the words out over the page. In fact, I feel like I’m constantly tripping over the words I’m desperately trying to find or use. I’ll do my best. Hold onto your hats, this one is emotional! 

I started teaching back in 2012, being thrown right in at the deep end and training on the job. My first class were a top set year 9; very bright and able, eager to do well, desperate to achieve their potential and then some. I was terrified. What if they were smarter than me? What if they asked me something I couldn’t answer? Or worse, what if they didn’t like me? 

I remember my first ever lesson. I was teaching Gothic Literature and exploring the Victorian period. Three years later, they are the top set GCSE group. I remember our last lesson, analysing and comparing the language used by Sherlock Holmes and Watson. We worked our socks off to turn D grades into A*s, to make U grades into C grades. Every child in that class should pass at C or above. Without a doubt they deserve it. Something was happening before my very eyes. They were maturing, growing and glowing in their intelligence. I feel so lucky to have seen them progress over the three years. 

But it’s more than this. They made the teacher I am today. My feedback from observations and marking was always outstanding. I am not big headed or arrogant enough to think I’m the best at this job or the most amazing teacher. Of course I’m not! There are people out there who are more intelligent, more inspirational and more experienced than me. But, I owe this group a lot. They kept me on my toes, they constantly questioned and analysed, they demanded their books were marked every week so they could improve their skills. And yet, I can honestly say they made me a better person as well as a better teacher. 

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t always rainbows and sunshine. They were challenging in their own way. Laziness was their biggest problem. The ‘I’m smart so can pull it off in the real exam miss’ line was well quoted, whilst I was stressing about this weeks book trawl or mock exam results. 

At the end of the day, I do this job because I want to make a difference. I want to give children the best possible start in life. It’s a big scary world out there! (Not the most ambitious vocabulary used by an English teacher!) They need to be prepared for it. Surely that’s why we all become teachers? We want to inspire, to change lives, to give them the skills for real life. 

So, whilst I’m very excited about moving to a new school with new challenges, I will always remember that group. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget them. It’s like your first house or your first love. Whatever happened, you never forget it. I like to think I made a difference – just a small difference to some of their lives. By the amount of tears and thank yous on the last day, I have a small feeling that I did something right. 

  

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