An Interview with Mr Donaldson on Time | Conducted and Transcribed by Eeman

Backchat: Which is your favourite time period to teach and why?

Mr D: Easy! The making of Modern Britain from 1951 to 2007 because it’s really relevant to students’ lives and I like how they can relate to it and it also brings in politics and economics. Also, probably because it’s the story of my family; my dad, my mum, my grandad lived through this. I’ve found that when teaching history it’s important to relate it back to them because it’s such an abstract subject.

B: If you could talk to your past self for exactly one minute what would you say?

Mr D: Blimey! I think I would say you worry too much. People plan and they never work out how they’re supposed to, but that’s sort of how life works. If I went back to talk to myself as a teenager, I would say stop worrying about what might happen, what you need to do and to relax a little bit because you haven’t got a lot of control over things. As you get older you realise that it matters less what other people might think of you than you believe when you’re growing up. You’ve just got to be yourself!

B: If you could choose to be immortal and have all the time in the world, would you take it?

Mr D: No. Because… I think I’d get bored of it all eventually. This might sound quite dark, but I think one day I’d just like to sleep and leave it all behind. That’s gonna happen anyway at some point, but I just feel like life is so hard and tiring, although I’d like a good innings, at some point I would want it to stop. To avoid boredom as well is difficult, in some ways I’m accepting of the fact that this is temporary and you’re only here for a short time…and that’s fine.

B: What do you think has been the most significant change in the world?

Mr D: I guess today you would sort of say climate change, but in my lifetime the biggest change has been… technology. When I was at university, writing my dissertation, I did it on a typewriter! Computers were something that weren’t common back then, so I think the internet has been a massive change. As a teacher you notice it more, but life in general has become so hectic and busy. Perhaps that’s me saying it as an adult, whereas a child you have more time to daydream. I think lots of people would argue life is more complex now. I think the modern world has become a very busy place to work in.

B: Which period would you like to live in the most?

Mr D: I’m quite happy with now, because that’s where I am. You might get some history teachers that have favourite time periods they would love to visit, but I think I’m quite accepting of the fact that I’m around now. I would love to go to the future, but a bit of history I’d go back to… maybe just for a day.

B: If you could time travel would you choose to go into the past or the future?

Mr D: Future. That’s the great unknown isn’t it? I already know about the past, but the future I have no idea about so it would be quite interesting! Maybe about sort of 50 years ahead. I’d love to travel around space a bit, I think that would be really cool! It’s so gigantic and vast and we’re in such a tiny contained part of the universe, to see it in all its vastness… Because life is actually quite claustrophobic. So maybe a bit of space travel??

B: What do you think humans should aim to do at least once in their lifetime?

Mr D: I have tried skydiving, but I’m not sure it’s something you have to do in your lifetime. It’s such a vast question, but there’s obvious thing like everyone should fall in love. Mostly I think it’s the little things you do every day that everyone should experience, for example, saying hello to your neighbour or having a chat with your kids… It’s the little things like that, that I think add up to make a massive difference. The idea that if you can help someone just a little bit is… I mean if everybody did that the world would be a much nicer place.

B: Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?

Mr D: Ten years’ time… Not teaching! I’m not one of those people who will have the energy or passion to do it anymore. So, I would probably be somewhere doing a bit of travelling… Back to New Zealand, which is fabulous! Or wandering around Scotland a little bit, exploring. Just spending time doing things I actually want to do! Once you get a job, it steals a lot of time from you and in ten years I will have done my bit in teaching and you lot will have had enough from me. I want to still be young enough to actually put effort into my travelling and have a proper go at it… not on a cruise with a pension and those group coaches. That’s not me!

B: If you had all the time to change one thing about the world, what would it be and why?

Mr D: I’m not sure what it is I would do…. But it would be along the lines of helping as many people as possible. Like reversing climate change, or curing cancer, or making sure coronavirus didn’t get out. Something that would make the most difference to the most amount of people as possible…. That is a massive question!

Climate Change is a Gender Issue too! | by Mr E

Whilst we are becoming much more aware of the likely impacts of our changing climate we tend to think of the impacts varying according to wealth, but UN research indicates that, particularly in developing countries with traditionally defined gender roles, climate change impacts most on women. Women in general are disproportionately affected by climate change as they rely more on natural resources (i.e. water, food and fuel for cooking and heating), whilst at the same time being restricted in terms of their access to natural resources and decision making. For example in developing countries women are generally responsible for collecting water to meet domestic needs, a task which is becoming more difficult and time consuming for women / girls as supplies of water become more limited and they need to search further afield; this can have a negative impact on the education of girls as they may need to miss school to complete this domestic work.

Climate change is predicted to increase the number of natural disasters, such as flooding and drought. In countries like the Philippines and Bangladesh women make up a disproportionate number of the casualties from flooding events, in part because they are less likely to know how to swim, but also because women are less well informed about impending flood warnings and shelter information (despite their common role as caregivers to children and elderly relatives). The proportion of women and children displaced by natural disasters is disproportionately high at 75%. Also disaster relief efforts often focus on men’s needs. For example, following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami assistance was made available to replace fishing boats used by the men, but relatively little support was made available to replace the fish processing tools used by women.
This is not to say of course that climate change only affects women, with a specific impact of increasing drought in parts of India leading to higher suicide rates due to difficulties in making a living from the land. Gender also continues to play a part in the different impacts within developed nations, with a study in the USA showing a 98% increase in physical victimization of women following Hurricane Katrina (domestic violence often rises following a disaster through a combination of post traumatic stress and the strains placed on families living in temporary accommodation with reduced privacy).

In recognition of the importance of gender within the impacts of climate change the United Nations has explicitly incorporated gender actions within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The 2015 Paris Agreement explicitly refers to the empowerment of women, as well as inter-generational equity, in tackling climate change. There are already many example of projects funded by the United Nations to help communities adapt:-

  • In Mali solar energy technology has been made available in rural communities to help women to grind flour more quickly (a process vital for meal preparation but very time intensive traditionally). This has freed up time for women to pursue alternative activities to generate income.
  • In the hillside El Augustino district of Lima, Peru, a group of 100 women have replanted 18,000 square metres of land with Tara trees (a small, leguminous plant). Not only do these plants benefit the community through their medicinal properties in treating fevers and stomach problems but also the dense root systems help to hold the soil together, thus protecting communities from the increased landslide risk caused by more intense rainfall events.