June 4th, 2010

breaking bad

International Baccalaureate

My daughter has just finished her final exams for the International Baccalaureate. It seems like a good qualification to me, though I think it's more demanding than A levels. She has studied biology, chemistry, maths, English, history and Russian. Normally there is only one science subject and an art subject, but there is flexibility for some specialisation, because she wants to study biomedical science at Uni. It seems to be well recognised by Universities (with one or two exceptions), though she is being asked for high points in A Level terms.

It's an expensive course to offer and the college she studied at is going to drop it from next year, unfortunately. I'm glad she had the chance to experience it, though at one point she said 'It's the biggest mistake I ever made in my life' (this was when she was revising for the final exams; it seemed a huge task).

I think the demanding nature of the course - as well as the academic subjects you have to do community service, a physical activity, and an expressive art - will prepare her well for University. It's also been good to study with students from many different countries. Of course we haven't had her final grades yet, but I think she'll do OK.

The reason I post this is because I remember discussing the decision to take this qualification, two or three years ago on this blog, and I thought people might be interested in the verdict - as you can see it is an endorsement, to anyone considering this option, with the caveat that it's tiring and demanding.
breaking bad

St Martin's Day

I've posted this poem before, but I have reworked it a little. I have three issues or reservations about it. I am not sure whether 'infinite mercy' is too much of a cliche that it sounds like nothing. A more serious thought is whether it is OK to write about a person, to sort of cannibalise someone else's tragedy to make a poem. And finally I am not sure whether I should try to expunge all pretentious references from my poems, even though my own thoughts are pretentious.

St Martin's Day by the way is the 11th November, the day of Remembrance, and a day of the dead going further back.

St Martin's Day

Her son was dead
In a police station
He took his own life
Many years before

Her eyes focussed on emptiness
Seeing the eyeless room
In which he died

I told her god has infinite mercy
I know, she said, that
He is barred from grace
In the brick walls of a police station

Take me to that place she said
Admit me to his cell
She thought his spirit
Would leach out of the walls
Into her body
And she could walk out with his soul
Entangled in her flesh

Like Orpheus from Hades
Dragging Eurydice
Inanna from the underworld
Who rises through the soil
With all the foetal souls clinging to her
Shackled by suicides
A chain of sons