Home Schooling Adventures: 5 tips from Life in Spain

Are you thinking of home educating abroad – in Spain, for example? In Part 3 of our “Spanish Adventures” blog series – written with packing boxes piled around me as we approach the end of our 6 months here – I’m going to share my top 5 hints and tips for a successful long term stay in the Spanish Costas.


We’ve spent the past months enjoying the winter sunshine of the Costa Tropical on the south coast of Spain – the third time we’ve spent an extended period here when the cold and dark days in the UK get too much for us all. When we first decided to come, we were told that we’d all just “absorb” the language by being in amongst it, which I mentioned in my first blog (link: https://www.oxfordhomeschooling.co.uk/blog/home-schooling-adventures-spain-part-1/ ), but it turns out that this just isn’t the case. We’re effectively immersed in English just by being together as a family, and it takes a lot more work that we’d expected to be able to learn Spanish. There is nothing better than talking to a native speaker to be able to improve your spoken Spanish, as well as getting your ear in to understanding it. Many Spanish people want to improve their English and there will be no shortage of people happy to meet for a coffee and share some learning, and you’ll make new friends at the same time. The friendliness of the locals has been extraordinary, and their openness to supporting our Spanish learning has been wonderful.

Siestas and Fiestas – being prepared!

Opening hours in Spain are somewhat unusual to the English shopper, to say the least! Most shops will open at 8, or 9, or 10. Usually they close at 2, and open again at 4.30 or 5, until about 8pm and almost everything is closed on a Sunday. They may display their opening times at the shop entrance, but these are unlikely to be hugely reliable! This can be frustrating to home educating families who do “school” in the morning and then decide to head out after lunch – only to find that everything is shut for the next few hours. Watch out also for the shops that close at 2 on a Saturday and then don’t open again until Monday! Siestas are one thing but Fiestas such as the Fiesta Nacional being celebrated in the picture above (or even the more local ones) are a much bigger thing. If there’s one thing that the Spanish love, it’s a fiesta. Almost everywhere is closed on a big fiesta day, including some restaurants and bars, and as some fiesta days (and many bank holidays) are on Mondays you can be stuck without access even to a supermarket for several days at a time. Be prepared!

Winter rents

Coastal towns in Spain are packed with empty apartments and villas over the winter, closed up and ready for the busy summer season. Long term winter-only rentals can be found for a fraction of the cost of summer periods, especially for stays of a month or longer, frequently a quarter or a fifth of high season rates. Estate Agents, however, are often unhelpful, and can charge up to a month’s rent in commission, so my top tip here is to ask around rather than relying on them to find your winter home. Post on local Facebook groups, ask in shops, talk to people in the playground. Word of mouth is your friend here.

Town life starts at 9…pm!

Go for a meal in a restaurant in Spain, arrive before 8 in the evening, and you’ll most likely be dining alone. Many families don’t even think about eating before then and not until 9 is it that you’ll see tables start to fill. Playgrounds are frequently packed with small and medium-sized children until past my own bedtime, and the town plazas (squares) will be lively twilight spaces, filled with socialising adults and scootering children. It is common for music festivals to start at 1a.m. and go on until 5a.m., when bag-eyed adults stagger home for a couple of hours of sleep before heading in to work the next day. Despite spending so much time here, I still have no idea how they do it – it exhausts me just watching them!

Churros and Chocolate caliante

My final top, unmissable tip is churros and chocolate caliante. Churros are sticks of deep fried batter, similar to a donut but with a slightly lighter consistency. Served warm and freshly cooked with lashings of sugar, then dipped into thick, syrupy hot chocolate, churros are a love/hate treat best enjoyed as a family breakfast. Many towns have pop-up churrerias which appear on Sunday mornings, and sometimes they’re available in chiringuitos – restaurants and cafes which line the beach, or town restaurants. There is much to be loved about Spanish cuisine, and whilst it’s fair to say that churros and chocolate caliente isn’t the height of gastronomy, it’s still a not-to-be-missed experience of life in Spain.

We’ll shortly be leaving this amazing place and returning to the rain of England, but Spain will continue to hold precious memories and wonderful times, and invaluable, life-long learning experiences for our children, and also for ourselves. Spain is a wonderful country, and I would highly recommend it to home educating families.

This month, after decades of control over the country of Cuba, Raul Castro promised to step down as the countries president when his current term is up. This will bring an end to a regime which began when Fidel Castro took power in 1959, turning Cuba into a communist state.

Born on 13th August 1926, Fidel Castro came from the town of Biran in eastern Cuba. The son of a wealthy Spanish sugarcane farmer and a Cuban servant, Castro grew up with an acute interest in politics and the law. He studied law at the University of Havana, and entered the world of politics by joining the anti-corruption Orthodox party. In 1952, Castro ran for election into the Cuban House of Representatives but the election never took place. For in March 1952, the dictator, Batista, seized power. Castro famously stated this as being the beginning of his political journey: “From that moment on, I had a clear idea of the struggle ahead.”

That journey was to be a complex and bloody one. In 1953 he led a failed assault on the Moncada army barracks in Santiago de Cuba and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. However, two years later, in a bid to improve his standing with the USA, Batista released Castro as part of a general amnesty. Castro headed to Mexico, where he formed a working relationship with the revolutionary “Che” Guevara.

Determined to return to Cuba, in 1956 Castro, with a force of 81 men, sailed to the east coast of Cuba. As soon as they landed, government forces ambushed them. Only a handful of men survived, including Castro and his brother Raúl. They went into hiding in the Sierra Maestra Mountains. It was from there, with few resources at their disposal, that Castro and his brother began to organise the revolution which would change Cuba forever. By 1957 they were attracting recruits and winning small battles against armed patrols.

On January 1st, 1959, Fidel Castro arrived in Havana, and a week later he’d taken the position of prime minister. He wasted no time in turning Cuba into his idealised state. He nationalized all U.S. owned businesses, which prompted the United States to end diplomatic relations and impose a trade embargo. Reprisals were to go further than this, however. In April 1961, 1,400 Cuban exiles, funded by the CIA, landed near Cuba’s Bay of Pigs hoping to overthrow its new leader. Their plans ended in disaster though, as more than 100 exiles were killed and nearly everyone remaining was captured.

After declaring himself a Marxist-Leninist in late 1961, Castro began to make Cuba dependent on the communist Soviet Union for both its military and economic support. Cuba’s association with the USSR soon led to a dramatic escalation of tensions between the USA and Cuba; something that worsened in 1962 when it was discovered that Cuba was keeping a number of nuclear missiles just 90 miles from Florida.

As world diplomacy fought hard to stem panic that World War Three was imminent, after almost 2 weeks the Soviet Union agreed to remove the missiles. In return for the removal of the weapons, President Kennedy of America promised not to re-invade Cuba or attack Castro.

Despite his hostile approach to the rest of the world, Fidel Castro did many positive things within Cuba itself. He abolished legal discrimination, established electricity supplies to the countryside, provided for full employment and advanced improved education and health care. A recent report from Havana by The Guardian, explains that, “Thanks to universal and free education and healthcare, however, Cuba boasts first-world levels of literacy and life expectancy. The commandant made sure the state reached the poorest, a commitment denied to many slum-dwellers across Latin America.” However, these perks came at a price. Castro stopped any opposition to his rule, jailed thousands of political opponents and ended political elections.

The biggest impact of Fidel Castro’s rule on the population of the country was the abolition of private business and housing. The ruling government owned everything. This meant that hundreds of thousands of Cubans, including vast numbers of professionals and technicians, left Cuba, leaving the country, despite its educational gains, poor and lacking a skilled workforce. It was a status that would remain in place for many years to come.

Having switched his title from Prime Minister to President, Fidel Castro stayed in power until 2008, when he passed the rule to his brother, Raúl. Now, ten years later, (and 2 years after Fidel’s death), Raúl Castro has promised to step down at the end of his second term as president. Whether this will bring the hoped for upturn in Cuba’s economy and the life of its population remains to be seen. The chosen successor to the Castro dynasty, Miguel Díaz-Canel, shares the ethos of the family, and Raúl Castro himself will remain in control of the Communist Party and the armed forces until 2021. However, the fact that a change has been made has to be seen as a positive sign.Whatever happens next, the world at large, and the USA in particular, will be watching Cuba with interest.

Many of you who are doing exams this year will be revising or starting to think about revising. As a tutor, I am often asked, “What should I revise?” The answer is, unfortunately, everything that you have covered in the course. No one except the exam writers know what is going to be in the exams in any single year, so always make sure that you cover everything.

Barnaby Lenon, an ex-headmaster at Harrow, has recently written in a blog that GCSE students should revise their course at least three times. The same applies for A level students, but officially there is no magic number given as to how many times you should do so. Usually, however, it will be more than once. Some lucky people, the exceptions, can read something once and it will “go in”, but more will have to go through the course over and over again for it to sink it. We are all different, and this is the main point with revising – what works for one person will not work for another.

With all this in mind, there are some tips below. Remember, some will work for you, some won’t.

• Find a good place to work. Some of you will like quiet, others will like some noise. We all work best in certain places. Some students may like to work in a library, others in their room, others in a coffee shop. Find a place that works well for you and stick to it.

• What time works best for you? Some people work better early in the morning, others in the afternoon, others late at night. Again, stick to what works for you. If you are a night owl, it’s pointless to try and force yourself to get up early and study – it just won’t work as well. Use your strengths and find the best time to suit you.

• Avoid distractions. There are so many distractions today: mobile phones, television, emails and so on. It can make it hard to study. If you are reading this now but also looking at your social media feed on your phone, for example, it’s doubtful all you are reading will go in. So avoid such distractions if you can. Turn off your phone. Turn off your emails. If you find it hard to do this, give yourself a time limit, “I will revise for one hour, then spend five minutes looking at my phone.”

• With the above point also in mind, some students find it hard to sit down and study for long periods. Others prefer it. Again, you should do what suits you best. If you do find it hard to sit for long periods, give yourself a reward. One student I worked with played volleyball at national level. He found it very hard to sit down for long periods and study. Consequently he was doing hardly any revision. We came up with a plan. He would revise for 50 minutes, then go outside and play with a ball or go for a jog for ten minutes. Then he would revise for 50 minutes again and so on. This worked well for him. You may find a similar reward works for you, looking at your phone, going for a walk, making a cup of tea, watching TV, phoning a friend and so on. Decide on your time limit and give yourself a reward.

• Aim to study for no more than two and a half hours without taking a break. You are probably not revising as well as you would if you carry on revising after that time.

• Making and reading notes and using flashcards can all work well for some students. Others can make recordings of their notes and listen back to them when they are going for a walk or even when they are sleeping at night – Mind maps and memory palaces can also be useful when revising. Again, find a method that works well for you and stick to it.

• If you are reading something and it isn’t sinking in or you don’t understand it. Try a few of the following techniques…
o Read it out loud. When you do this, sometimes it seems to make more sense.
o Try and explain it to someone else – You may find that you know far more than you think you do when you explain it to another person.
o Read it in another way. There are a lot of resources online today, so if you don’t understand your notes or textbook, look online and find another explanation.

• Making a revision timetable for when you intend to revise your subject is also useful. You may be revising for more than one subject, so work out when you are going to study and make a plan for each subject.

• Practice exam papers and old TMAs under “exam conditions.”

• Try to take off a day a week. You decide which day. Take some time off from all that studying.

• Try to start revising as soon as you can. The earlier you start to revise, the more revision you will do.

Remember, you have revised before. You know what has worked well for you and what didn’t. So if you have a good way of revising, stick to it. But if your way hasn’t worked so well, why not try another option from those listed above? There is also of course a lot of advice out there online and in books. The best way to revise is the way that works for YOU! So find your best method and stick to it.

Finally, though success in them is all about your hard work and revision, I am still going to wish you this – Good luck with your exams!

2018 marks the one hundredth anniversary of one of the most well recognised military units in the world, the Royal Air Force (RAF), which was formed on 1 April 1918 in response to the pressures of the First World War by the amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service.

At the start of the First World War, the air borne troops consisted of an amalgamation of the Royal Navy’s aircraft, airship, balloon, and man-carrying kite companies and the Royal Flying Corps planes. They were formed into squadrons for the first time, in July 1914.

It wasn’t until, worn down by the continual barrage of the more advanced German flying squadron, that the British military planners created the RAF in order to carry out more strategic bombing campaigns against Germany. So, on April 1, 1918, the RAF was formed along with the Women’s Royal Air Force. On that same day, Bristol F.2B fighters from the 22nd Squadron carried out the first official mission as members of the RAF. So effective was the newly formed RAF, that by November 1918 consisted of almost 300,000 officers and airmen, and more than 22,000 aircraft.

During the period of peace between the First and Second World Wars’ the RAF’s troops was cut to just 2000 aircraft, so when Adolf Hitler had developed the Luftwaffe–with the specific aim of destroying all the ports along the British coast, his troops severally outnumbered.

The Battle of Britain, one of the most famous military engagements of the Second World War, was fought against Germany in the skies across the nation. The RAF was hugely outnumbered, yet through a combination of new radar technology, new and more manoeuvrable aircraft and exceptional bravery, it successfully resisted the intense German air invasion. For every British plane shot down, the Luftwaffe lost two. In May 1941 the Battle of Britain was declared a British victory; a feat which led Prime Minister Winston Churchill to say of the RAF pilots, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

By the war’s end in 1945, nearly one million people worked within the RAF. Once peacetime arrived, this number was reduced to about 150,000 men and women. It hasn’t just been during the two World Wars that the RAF has proved valuable to the safety of the UK, however. It has provided protection during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the Cold War, the Falkland Conflict, the Gulf War and beyond. By using modern technology, the RAF has developed and changed to stay relevant to the world in which it operates- and will continue to do so for years to come.

To help celebrate the anniversary, and to teach us more about their history, the RAF have put together a schools project. If you’d like to get involved you can find out about all the events and information here: https://www.raf100schools.org.uk/ There are also many events happening up and down the UK to commemorate the RAF’s 100th year. You can find out more here: https://www.raf.mod.uk/raf100/

On April 11, 1970, at 7.13pm (US time), Apollo 13 was launched from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. Only two days later its crew, Commander James A. Lovell Jr, Command Module Pilot, John L Swigert Jr and Lunar Module Pilot, Fred W Haise Jr (pictured above, left to right), found themselves abandoning their planned landing of the module on the Moon, however, when an oxygen tank exploded.
Blowing out the side of the Service Module, the crew were left with only the Command Module and a series of life-threatening consequences. Suddenly they only had limited power, had lost the cabin heating system, and very soon they began to run out of water and food. Meanwhile, urgent repairs were needed to the carbon dioxide removal system, which threatened to flood the module with toxic fumes.

With a calmness that can only be marvelled at, Swigert and Lovell radioed Mission Control with the well known words, “Houston, we’ve got a problem.” Mission Control, led by flight director Gene Kranz, immediately switched its prime mission from exploration to getting all three crewmen back to Earth alive. Their first move was to shut down all essential systems. Even with this done however, there were only enough resources to keep two of them alive for two days; somehow they had to make them last four days – and then for all three men.

Mission Control worked hard on ways to get the lunar module’s filter system working to ensure the astronauts didn’t die of carbon monoxide poisoning by having the crew construct a makeshift system constructed from whatever they had to hand- in this case, duct tape, hosing and the command module’s surviving canisters; adapting them for lunar module use. They then had to make sure that the module remained in the Moon’s gravitation pull, so that as they travelled around it they would gain enough momentum to be powered back to Earth. Despite suffering from the cold of their situation, and a lack of food and water, the crew still managed to jettison the Service Module and fly the Command Module back into Earth’s orbit. They survived against all odds and eventually splashed down in the Pacific on April 17th.

Once the crew were safely on Earth, investigations began into what had gone wrong. It was discovered that a heating wire inside the liquid oxygen tank had lost its insulation and that as a result it gradually overheated – leading to an explosion the crew likened to a bomb going off.

Further work led to the conclusion that the initial design of the oxygen tank had played a part in the disaster. All the previous Apollo missions had flown without any oxygen tank problems but the tank on Apollo 13 had a troublesome history. As Space.com explains, “In October 1968, the Number 2 tank eventually used on Apollo 13 was at the North American Aviation plant in Downey, California. There, technicians who were handling the tank accidentally dropped it about two inches. After testing the tank, they concluded the incident hadn’t caused any detectable damage. The dropped tank was eventually cleared for flight and installed in Apollo 13. The tank passed all of its routine pre-launch tests. But at the end of March 1970, after a practice session called the Countdown Demonstration Test, ground crews tried to empty the tank — and couldn’t. “

The technicians “fixed” the problem by turning on heaters inside the tank to warm up the remaining liquid oxygen, turning it into gas which could then be vented to safety. The thermostat inside the tank was supposed to prevent the temperature from exceeding 80 degrees Fahrenheit. However, a surge of electricity caused the thermostat to weld shut without the technicians noticing. This meant that the continual intense heat damage to the internal wiring of the tank turned it into a small bomb, which was ignited when Apollo 13’s crew turned on the cooling fans inside the service module’s two liquid-oxygen tanks.

The Apollo 13 crew were all awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for their acts of heroism. Their story has been told many times, but most famously- and most accurately – in 1994 by Commander Lovell himself, who wrote about the mission in his book, Lost Moon. Such was the popularity of the book that director Ron Howard adapted it into the award winning film, Apollo 13, in 1995.

At the age of 85, on 31st March 1727, Sir Isaac Newton died. He was the first scientist to be given the honour of being buried at Westminster Abbey in London. Considered to be the father of physics, Newton was born in Lincolnshire in 1642, coincidentally the same year that Galileo – the scientist who influenced him most – died.

Educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, Newton studied Galileo Galilee’s theories of motion. He went on to work at the University for 30 years as a Professor of Maths and while there,  developed his own and Galileo’s theories further by applying them to laws of motion and gravity – the backbone of modern day physics.

Newton was also fascinated by light. He discovered that white light is made up of a range of colours, and went on to invent the first reflecting telescope; an instrument that could see tiny objects much more clearly than any telescope to date. It wasn’t just Galileo’s theories that fascinated Newton either. He was also passionate about the work of many others, including the French philosopher Descartes and the English chemist Robert Boyle. By learning as much as he could from his fellow scientists, he applied his own knowledge and skills to both light, the laws of force and – most famously – gravity.

Newton explained the pulling force of gravity by using the example of an apple falling from a tree. He used his theories to explain why things fell down to earth, rather than floated off to the side, or rose upwards into the sky. Newton used this same idea to go on to explain why the moon remained in the sky. This theory went on to become known as the ‘Universal Theory of Gravitation.’ Not only did Isaac Newton develop his gravitation theory, stating that two things will be attracted to one another and that the mass of each object will affect the amount of attraction, he also created the mathematical formulation of calculus.

Isaac Newton’s outstanding contribution to science led to him being made the president of the Royal Society in 1703. He didn’t just confine his work to science and mathematics, however. Newton was also appointed an MP in 1689, and went on to become the Master of the Royal Mint in 1700.Indeed, on 16th April 1705 he was knighted by Queen Anne, in recognition for his lifetime of achievements in both politics and science. His final honour was to become the first scientist to be buried at Westminster Abbey.

During recent weeks in the UK, we have seen a lot of snow, with those places most severely affected even being cut off. Neither has this weather been confined to the north of the country. Devon has been one of the worst affected regions. By now, to be honest we have largely had enough of it. However, initially, and certainly when we are at a younger age, we tend to find a snowfall an exciting and happy occurrence. Why is this? We know it will bring its problems, after all. And why do we find it so difficult to cope with it when other countries live with snow a great deal of the time and seem to manage a lot better?

To be honest, as in the UK snow is not so common, when it does come it is not so expected as in other countries and we are not as prepared as we could be. This is becoming an increasingly contentious issue, as we do seem to be having more snow than in recent times and each occasion brings travel chaos and various other difficulties. Snow does cause a great deal of excitement, though, and is still a source of fun and beauty. Building snowmen, having snowball fights, getting the day off from work or school, seeing a whitened landscape, all can create an amount of happiness. It can feel as if there is a fresh new world out there, especially if you haven’t experienced it before of course.

However, snow can also have those aforementioned negative consequences, but not all of them are physical or logistic. It can lead, for example, to strong feelings of isolation among those who are unable to get out as a result. People living in rural locations, particularly older people and people with disabilities can find themselves stuck at home with little or no social support. A few months ago the UK introduced a Minister For Loneliness; it is a growing concern that there are those, particularly older people, who have little social interaction. Social interaction and support is very important and if we have a lack of it then it can negatively affect our mental health, particularly our sense of self-esteem. For someone already isolated and so affected, a fall of snow can make them feel even worse.

People may also become stressed when they are not able to do the things they want to do because of the conditions. Getting to school, getting to work, going out with friends, making an appointment or meeting – all these things can be disrupted. Snow can be a nice change to our routine, but it can also be a big negative. If a person is away from home, for example if they are in London at an event but they live in Manchester, they may be worried that they won’t get home and where they will be able to stay; what will it cost to stay in a hotel overnight, will there be a free room, what about their family and other commitments?

Whilst snow can be beautiful and mesmerising, it can also increase the stress and pressure placed upon us. It is not all bad, taking the time to sit and look at it covering everything in a white blanket can also make us feel better about the world around us. It seems the more we have, the more divisive it becomes. What do you think? Is snow a positive or negative thing? As we have discussed, the answer may well depend on where you live.

In March 2018, the late Professor Stephen Hawking, one of the greatest scientists of the modern age, died at the age of 76. He left a huge body of work behind him, touching on many facets of science, but he was best known for his work as a cosmologist.

When talking to The Telegraph in June 2017, Hawking stated that, “the human race must start leaving Earth within 30 years to avoid being wiped out by overpopulation and climate change.” This prediction of the Earth’s future was something Professor Hawking voiced again at the Starmus science festival in Trondheim, Norway: “It is crucial to establish colonies on Mars and the Moon, and take a Noah’s Ark of plants, animals, fungi and insects to start creating a new world.” Professor Hawking insisted the move to colonise Mars and the Moon should begin within our lifetime, (Specifically, that we should begin Lunar construction within 30 years and on Mars within 50). His theory has not been ignored by NASA, who are currently working on a plan to have humans walking on Mars sometime in the 2030’s.

The colonisation of Mars has been a subject of fascination for writers of science fiction for many years. As far back as 1952, Isaac Asimov, one of the most prolific sci-fi writers of all time, published his story, The Martian Way, in which two humans born on Mars live by collecting scraps of spacecraft for recycling purposes. Another acclaimed writer, Ray Bradbury, wrote a collection of short stories known as The Martian Chronicles, which looked at the many potential aspects of living on Mars. Bradbury and Asimov’s work at this time, which concentrated on how difficult it would be to acclimatise to living on a new planet, came before NASA’s Mariner probe reached the red planet in 1965. After that had happened, NASA routinely sent robots into space and to Mars, and science fiction followed its lead on paper.

In 1988, Ian McDonald’s Desolation Road envisaged a future humanity terraforming Mars to make it habitable, even changing the atmosphere itself so that humans could live there. This theme of terraforming is one that has recurred in many Mars-set books and movies, such as the 1990 film, Total Recall ( itself based on the short story We can Remember it for you Wholesale, by Philip K.Dick ).

One of the most famous series of novels to focus on the concept of living on Mars was written by Kim Stanley Robinson. The trilogy of Red Mars, Green Mars and Blue Mars takes place over a period of about 200 years and concentrates on the vast impact of our settlement on the planet, from a scientific, humanitarian and political perspective.

As science has progressed and made more discoveries, and cosmologists like Professor Hawking have continued to expand and prove their theories on the future of Earth and the Solar System in which it orbits, so science fiction has followed on its heels. More recently, The Martian, by Andy Weir (which became a film in 2015), not only addressed the occupation of Mars, but also the practicalities of actually getting there – something most earlier works of fiction conveniently bypassed. By using actual footage from NASA’s “under-development” heavy-lift rocket in the movie, The Martian incorporated real plans to explain how the journey could be made successfully.

There is no doubt that the world of science and exploration will miss the genius that was Professor Stephen Hawking. However, whether we fulfil his dream – his insistence – that we find a full-scale way of life on Mars, or if that is to remain solely within the realms of science fiction, only time will tell.

Shakespeare has remained arguably the world’s most well known writer, ever since he was producing comedies that are still funny today and tragedies that are still heart wrenching. But could there be a modern day equivalent we might imagine staying similarly as popular even centuries after their existence?

It is interesting to consider contributory factors to Shakespeare’s longevity. One would be the sheer volume of works that he produced. Another would be that not all writers from his era achieved fame while they were still alive, whereas he did. Because he achieved great status and popularity, a vast amount of his work was printed, and all of it in large quantities – far more in comparison to his contemporaries. As such his work was also much more accessible to the masses. A lot of his material was protected and survived because he was already a famous figure. Again, this was definitely not the case for many of his fellow writers, many of whose work has been largely lost or forgotten.

There are of course far more published and well-known writers on the shelves today, all in much more competition for public attention. To be considered a modern-day equivalent probably requires more than merely producing fantastic texts. Perhaps a modern equivalent to Shakespeare is not necessarily even a writer in the strictest sense. And perhaps they are someone who has made a significant societal impact through their work or actions, that will continue to be talked about.

An obvious choice would be Akala, who refers to himself as ‘the black Shakespeare’. Akala is a powerful figure in the 21st Century with important political and moral messages, which he presents on television and in talks to various audiences whilst his initial fame grew from his time as a rapper. He is now an incredibly well-respected figure and certainly a positive role model. He is a beautiful writer as well as someone who can contribute to the development of society. What makes Akala stand out is his fierce intelligence and the eloquent manner in which he is able to present his views.

Now for a more controversial choice; Kanye West. I am not drawing a comparison between the work of West and Akala, I think the latter has far more credibility and is better at presenting his views. However, I am comparing the impact that both have on our society. West’s fame is certainly undeniable and he has produced a vast amount of works in both music and clothing. He has millions of fans around the world and a huge online presence. He addresses issues such as racism and crime in his music. He has an important message and has found a voice to deliver this. One of the great things about West is that he gets people talking. Encouraging debate to address inequality can only be good thing.

So Akala and Kanye West are two people that I think could be equated to Shakespeare. Do you agree with either of my suggestions? Can you think of someone better suited? Comment below and let me know your thoughts.

Team building skills are extremely important both inside and outside of the classroom. They are also of key value later in life when you find yourself in a work environment. Focusing more on the present, however, there are a number of reasons why you should start building and investing in teamwork. Here, then, are a couple that will probably resonate.

1) Inner satisfaction: there’s no better reward than feeling satisfied with something you have achieved or, even better, in helping someone else achieve their own goals. That may sound a bit egotistic, but working as part of a team can be a win-win situation. Helping someone and making them feel better about themselves can be rewarding.

2) Work smarter, not harder: working in a team can go both ways; you give and receive. Your team members can help you see a problem from a different angle and reach a solution. For example, each member in the team may contribute a particular set of skills needed for a project at hand that other members may not have fully developed or refined.

3) Become a valued member of your community: team building may very well start in the classroom, but you will never forget what it offers once you are beyond it. It enables you to contribute to your community when you are still at school and can foster a team spirit throughout your life.

4) Discover your talents: joining a team can help you discover any hidden talents you may have as others around you may bring out the best in you. In school life, for instance, joining a sports team can be a good idea as you will learn fair play, cooperation, and sportsmanship.

5) Learn to respect another’s boundaries: members in a team, more often than not, have clear responsibilities. Collaborating on a team level does not necessarily mean that everyone will focus on one aspect of the project at hand; rather, it means that everyone will have designated aspects to work on and do so to the best of their unique abilities without overstepping another member’s boundaries. There is a valuable lesson here: be respectful of someone else’s abilities and allow them space to develop their talents, which, within a team, complement yours.

The bottom line is, in a team you should always offer your help when needed. Friendships and partnerships are built this way, and you will never be on your own – as someone in your team will always have your back.

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