Monday, 14 September 2009

BBC Radio Manchester, adoption, lies and history!

This morning I was a guest again on BBC Radio Manchester for Heather Stott's coffee club from 9 to 10 am.

Fellow guests were Chris, an antique dealer and Julie, a BA flight attendant. Our task was to chat about some items from the days news.
We talked about Elton John's comments about wanting to adopt a child.
I spoke about my brother who went to Zimbabwe many years ago to do Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) He met his wife at the village he was teaching in. She had two daughters and a son. My brother adopted the two little girls and finally came back to the UK when troubles in their native land became too dangerous. One daughter is now training to be an accountant and the other is a staff nurse - she got married in Harare two weeks ago to her childhood sweetheart. Pictured are my parents, the happy couple and my brother and his wife - plus other adorable little girls! We feel very proud of Kevin and for all he and his family have achieved. Dominic and I were sorry not to make it to the wedding. Through adoption those little girls, now charming adults, have been able to make the most of opportunities available to them and also to 'give' to others.

We also spoke about the news today that cancer patients who have a positive attitude have a better quality of life.
It concerns me that sometimes treatments only look at the main focus, e.g the physical aspects, but forget or have no time to address the 'whole' person. Yet the one helps the other. I know when I was suffering severe depression and psychosis I did not feel I wanted to eat properly, was unable to sleep and could not be bothered to exercise. All these impacted on my physical health too. My message is to tackle all these areas in tiny steps - don't aim to run a marathon, just walk up and downstairs an extra couple of times. Little by little along with practical and emotional support progress will be made.

We also talked about the feature today on lying! It seems that one of the biggest we all do is to say that nothing is wrong and we are 'fine'. I hear this so often especially between health professionals and patients! In our society we are almost conditioned to say 'I'm fine' when asked how we are. Generally people don't want to know about our bunions or leaky pipes! But when we do actually care and instinctively feel the person isn't 'fine', what's the worse that can happen if you look them in the eye, place your hand on their forearm and ask 'but are you really?' Often this can open the flood gates to the truth. One Mum suffering from postnatal depression said 'Huh! Fine! That really means I am fed up, insecure, neurotic and emotional!'. So the next time someone says they are fine ...

The fact that the number of pupils studying History GCSE is declining was also covered. As a former school teacher I am not sorry to have left the profession due to the constraints of the National Curriculum. When I started teaching we had plans but also the flexibility to take advantage of our pupil's interest and experiences which gave rise to useful and effective learning. Dominic has just returned from a fabulous trip with his Dad to the USA. He has hundreds of films and photographs of the flora, fauna, geography and history of the National Parks they went to. He is so passionate and enthused by it and eager to tell us all what he learnt. We suggested he did a presentation to his class. He explained that others in his class also have things they wish to share but the message is the same - 'no time due to National Curriculum'. What a shame that enthusiasm and relevant and meaningful opportunities for learning are wasted.

Thank you for inviting me Heather and to Chris and Julie for your company.

Elaine Hanzak

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