Mangoes World

Welcome to the world of Ms M Mango


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What are we really saying? A technological evolutionary discourse.

We have all sat down at High School and questioned ourselves about the point of what we are learning and where in ‘real life’ are we ever going to use it again. I know I used to do this in a variety of different subjects, except the ‘value add’ for me meant that in the future I could actually be teaching this content someday.

More poignant is the fact that schooling really does set you up for the world outside the Education System. Its entire point is to teach you how to count (never got that memo), spell and communicate with others in an orderly fashion. It is unfortunate that some of us fail to learn the lessons we are taught and consequentially exhibit the same behaviours well into our adult lives. I would argue that in general this is a result of bad parenting than that of a lack of Educational Development.

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New Media Technologies and the increase of editable Digital Content Media has enabled the use of language to increase from verbal to digitalised visual text. We have become the master communicators of keystrokes. I remember questioning the point of handwriting in High School, as the increase of computer technology would mean that potentially we would sit our exams on computers. This never happened. It has also never happened to any of the classes that I have taught over the last six years. Although digitalisation has increased the ability to develop concise and purposeful digital assessment tasks, this has not yet been established for examinations. Moreover, I can’t foresee the Year 12 VCE English Exam being typed anytime soon.

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For this exact reason, I used to make my ‘Laptop Students’ handwrite. They used to hate me for it, but my argument always remained the same – “until the VCE changes to computer based testing, you will handwrite.” It is a win and lose situation for many teachers, because again there are many students who failed to receive their ‘pen licenses’ so reading their work is almost as hard as decoding the Rosetta Stone.

Alas, we have exploded into the digital sphere. For most it is a place of content overload and the ability to seek the answers to the questions that we used to have to consult an Encyclopedia. We have Social Media, we can emote, share, comment, and like. We can craft the digital image that we want to best represent ourselves. Ironically we never portray the real image of ourselves, but the happy, fit, intelligent version that everyone wants to be friends with. As Social Media has developed, so have contextual rules of engagement. Apparently we can be categorised by the different types of posts we make and those we don’t. Psychologically most people can read the intercontextual meanings of the post and distinguish its fundamental reasoning, thus allowing the reader to develop a psychological evaluation of the subcontext.

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We each hold our own views of the types of posts that we will and will not make. Some people post food, others post quotes and pictures, others comment on each moment of their life, others post deliberately ambiguous posts to create a reaction. I am not afraid of any of those topics, I am happy to post it all. I guess that is a part of being a Social Media Strategist, you can wear different hats and still enable the consistencies of a directional focus. Facebook has come a long way since I jumped online on the 22 August 2006.  I remember each and every status started with “Em is…” and you would have to write what you were doing in Third Person. Facebook would then automatically adjust the gender descriptions in reference to your nominated sex. Most importantly at this point, if you didn’t want to exist on Facebook, you could virtually hide yourself from everyone.

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New Media of today has developed significantly from the older days of the casual text message. As Digital Media is easily editable and content is changed, refreshed and added to daily, we have lost the large focus on proofreading that we have with Print Media. The point I make here is that although it is digital, we need to ensure that the content in which we are posting is spelled correctly. Otherwise you leave yourself open to those psychological and intellectual prejudices discussed earlier. We all make mistakes. To that effect I will be reading over this post several times before I even consider posting it. Then as Murphy’s Law dictates, I will still find another error after I post. I guess my issue is not with the errors as such, but the lack of effort to correct them. What is more frustrating is that our phones and computers have spell check on them. They help us to correct mistakes even before we have even picked them up.

Maybe it is the English Teacher in me, but it is painstakingly dreadful reading content that has not been proofread for errors. We  know the difference between a typo, a spelling error and all out incorrect usage of a word.  I will also add that I know that I am not perfect and sometimes I also make mistakes. But I can tell you right now that if I find one, I will delete the post and write it again. I have established that the most likely time for me to make a typo is in the morning whilst I am ‘Pirate-booking’ (Facebooking with one eye open). As I personally define myself as a ‘Pseudo English Teacher’, and to this notion I know there are colleagues of mine out there reading this piece and identifying syntax and grammatical errors. I would also argue that 90% of the population, me included would not even notice.

What we do notice is improper usage of ‘where, were, we’re’ and ‘they’re, there, their’ as well as ‘your, you’re and you are’. If you do not know what the differences are, then maybe it is time to take a refresher course in Basic English Grammar. Because consequentially you are outing yourself to be Number 8 in Wait But Why’s ‘7 Ways to Be Insufferable on Facebook’.

1305311124046_5764486With the evolution of Digital Media becoming ever more present in society and our children are taking to Digital Media before most of them are even able to construct a Text Response Essay, do you think we will become more intelligent? Or is it more likely that the types of fail safes such as spell check will improve dramatically enough to stop the basic of human errors?

It concerns me that we are continuing to broadcast ourselves without giving second thought to the intercontextual meaning of the post. Although having read the ‘7 Ways to Be Insufferable on Facebook’ post it is clear that we do in fact exhibit a number of the categories that are mentioned in the post. It is more surprising that original purpose for a 2006 Facebook status update falls into category three – The Literal Status Update, yet it is pointed to as being narcissistic and a symbol of loneliness. Thus defeating the purpose of Facebook entirely. This blog post only makes me believe that your Facebook is your Facebook, and whatever you want to post is your business. Of course there are types of posts that I wouldn’t recommend, but all in all that is ultimately your decision. I am just begging for some proofreading to be undertaken before posting to ensure you don’t come off looking like you failed to meet the requirements of Year 7 English.

~Mango
“It isn’t just how you look, it is how you spell.”


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It just doesn’t add up..

Growing up I was just a regular kid, I went to a normal government Primary School in an affluent area of Melbourne. I wasn’t stupid, my grades were often high and I had social awareness like no other. Although I hated reading in my own time, I enjoyed the sociability of a classroom novel. My inference of textual concepts outweighed many others in my classes. I loved English and was a natural writer. I just got it. I never studied hard, but my capacity to retain knowledge with a literacy base was high. Then there was History, I could spend hours fantasizing and delving into theories of strategies and warfare. Ancient Monarchies and Democracies fascinated me the most. And let’s not forget the brutality of wartime attrition.

tumblr_m741mtVAF81r8wlu5o1_500 (1)As a natural learner with a high thirst for knowledge, a teaching career was an obvious choice. I went to University and studied a variety of subjects based around Dramatic and Historical Theory. And this left with me with the ability to teach a combination of secondary school subjects based around English, Drama, Humanities and Technology. But there was something in this pattern of literature that differentiated me from the ‘normal graduate’.

I remember my first day in the classroom with a bunch of rowdy year 10 students. I sat them down and I told them a few things about myself. The topics of wish I would regurgitate continuously for the next six years as a teacher. It was here that I would learn of my abilities or lack of ability. Having been in this head for the last 21 years, I was fairly certain of my weaknesses as a teacher. I knew I had to admit something that would break the facade that ‘all teachers know everything’. It was here with my American History students, that I admitted that I was possibly the worst Math student in the whole wide world. My preamble over the next few years would include, “I am probably going to stuff up the calculations of your test results. Please check them. If I have given you less, come and tell me. If you have got more then you should… Keep it to yourself.”

zfpnp002_1_1Throughout my entire schooling I stressed about Mathematics. It was not something I could conceptualize. As hard as I tried, I could never learn my timetables. Fractions were off the scale and do not even get me started with long division. I had become so confused with the whole division thing that I just gave up entirely. I struggled to read the time, as I couldn’t understand the divisions of a 60 minute time frame. Learning telephone numbers were as simple as writing it down at least 100 times with some sort of vocal pattern to help with the memory absorption.

As I reached High School, I was relieved to be allowed to use a calculator. But I still managed to cut from the back of the exercise book the timetables square. I used to sticky tape it into my calculator so my friends wouldn’t see how heavily I relied on it. As I was not intellectually low, I never came across the radar as a student that would struggle or needed extra help. So I was just expected to carry on like the rest of the kids in the class.

My hatred for Mathematics only increased, as I learnt which teachers I could push and which I couldn’t, I would spend more time daydreaming out the window that struggling to try and understand something that I would forget about as soon as I go home. To my credit, I made it to year 11 General Mathematics. Retrospectively I should have never bothered, because I failed it anyway. The reason being – I didn’t copy enough out of Ernie’s book. Giving up Mathematics was the best decision I ever made. For the first time in my life, I could actually focus on literature based subjects that I could understand.

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As I moved into the working world, I was scared of the cash register. I had enough trouble trying to give the person at the register the right amount of money when I was paying. I couldn’t comprehend let alone collecting money and then adding it up for banking. By my Third Year in University, I was managing a retail store. I used to count each denomination twice and by number of coins, which I would simply multiple the number by the value at the coin at the conclusion of the counting. My theory was that if I got the same number twice I was right the first time, if not I would have to count it again until I hit two identical numbers. Although seemingly faultless, I still managed to stuff it up more often than not.

I knew that in a classroom, I would be outed. As growing up all the emphasis is places on the subjects which have Mathematical or Scientific foundations. And that the Literature based subjects were scaled down to compensate for them “being easier”. In other words, if you couldn’t calculate then typically you were seen as stupid. I knew I wasn’t. But I also knew that I had to hide my inability to formulate simplistic equations from others for fear of judgement.

As I got older, and the more often I would muck up test scores and calculations at the supermarket, I began to accept my affliction. I would just avoid any adding, subtracting, multiplying or dividing if possible. The only thing I couldn’t avoid was banking. I knew I had to do this myself and I seriously do not have enough fingers and toes to represent the number of times I have paid things into the wrong accounts, underpaid or overpaid my Health Insurance by six months.

9336561Most notability was when I was writing on the board in classes. I would often forget a number in a sequence, say 1-20. The students on the other hand used to think it was hilarious. I would get the “Misssss, you did it again.” And then still have no understanding of the mistake that I had made. I was scared that one day they would ask me to take year 7 Math and they wouldn’t understand that I possibly physically couldn’t.

So about two months ago, I was sitting at my desk. It was the time of the month when rent was due. I went into my online banking and swiftly paid my rent. The money was gone from my account and I was back to work. Approximately three days later I got a phone call from the Real Estate Agent. The money had never made it. Checking my bank account I had realised that I had transferred the rent amount onto my credit card. URGH! Fortunately I was able to sort it out and have set up direct debit to stop this from happening again.

Frustrated and annoyed at myself for being such an idiot and making a stupid mistake all the time. I took to the internet and Googled ‘inability to calculate the simplest of sums’. Startled by my find, I was able to read a large enough number of sources to establish that in fact I was DSYCALCULIC.

numbers_game_dotsDyscalculia is the basic inability to calculate and manipulate simplistic equations. As it is still largely unknown and under diagnosed sufferers and educators are left in the Mathematical dark. Most interestingly is that is it referred to as a ‘learning disability’, something that I would have never had thought that I would have had.

Dyscalculia is under diagnosed because me and alike many sufferers do not present to be intellectually low in any other area. As an Educator, I would assess children on the basis of vocabulary and knowledge, inference and conceptualisation, as well as analytical and expressive responses and finally on the very basic level – motor skills- handwriting. In English, it is easy to connect with students that identify with a decrease in ability to understand the concepts presented. But in Mathematics it is really so varied and inconsistent that most teacher’s would look for academic dips in other subject areas in order to assess a student’s intelligence.

cat-dyscalculiaThe most interesting article I have found on Dyscalculia, and perhaps that one that hit home the most was one about an Emeritus Professor by the name of Brian Butterworth, who is a Professor of Cognitive Neuropsychology in the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University College in London. As an educated and highly intellectual man, you would not consider him to demonstrate symptoms that would define him as having a ‘learning disability‘. Professor Butterworth is a dyscalculia sufferer. So much so that “…he hasn’t changed his phone number or PIN in years for fear that he would never remember new ones, and when working for Britain’s Ministry of Defence he put subordinates in charge of remembering safe codes.”(1)

I was astonished that I had finally found an explanation for being absolutely hopeless with calculations and why I had given up on numbers long ago. On the whole it actually helped to explain a lot for me. And for the first time in years, I had actually felt at ease with being so ridiculously silly with numbers.

The first call was to my Math teacher/ Math genius of a girlfriend who worked alongside me in various roles at school. Previously we had shared role of responsibility and we had divided the tasks up by Math/English. She had control of all of the budgets and I would do the writing and creation of documents etc. We laughed and confirmed what I had always known.

numbers_game_numbersI guess the biggest issue I had with understanding Dyscalculia, was that I had just wished that a teacher had told me long ago, to just give up on Math and to focus on English. It would have saved all the anxiety in Primary School about competing in Math competitions. And I would have saved myself from the disappointment of test results and probably not have worried about what my peers thought about me when I could only obtain 50% mercy marks for tests.

The irony here is the girls that used to give me the most heat for not being Mathematically inclined, did not beat my Year 12 ENTER score. The closest was at least 6 marks behind me. And this whole time had been bullying me to believe that I was actually unintelligent because I didn’t know my timetables.

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What I have learnt from this ordeal is that I am frustrated with the Education System reflecting that students, who are not good at Math and Sciences, are indeed the lesser of the intelligences. This is not in line with Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences and it does not represent the natural society outside of the classroom.

As adults, we know that intelligence is not the ability to add up equations but to be an expert in your own field. I guess I just feel sorry for those children out there who will suffer the same fate as me with the under diagnosed and misunderstood ‘intellectual disability‘ of Dyscalculia.

~Mango
“Calculate the possible and forget the rest.”

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References: 

1). Dyscalculia: Number games. Brian Butterworth is on a crusade to understand the number deficit called dyscalculia — and to help those who have it. http://www.nature.com/news/dyscalculia-number-games-1.12153 (At the bottom of this article is several more resources, including the texts written by Professor Brian Butterworth himself.)

2). What is Dsycalculia? http://www.dsf.net.au/LearningDisabilities/WhatisDyscalculia/tabid/139/language/en-AU/Default.aspx

3).  The National Centre for Learning Disabilities. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVf_OHK2hHQ

4). About Dsycalculia. http://www.aboutdyscalculia.org/symptoms.html

5). Dyscalculia, Dyslexia and Maths. http://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/about-dyslexia/schools-colleges-and-universities/dyscalculia.html