You are currently reading Issue 84: Back to School/College/University, September 2017

Connecting women and opportunity

Womanthology is a digital magazine and professional community powered by female energy and ingenuity.

Connecting women and opportunity

Womanthology is a digital magazine and professional community powered by female energy and ingenuity.

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Let’s hear it for the awesome teachers who are worth their weight in gold – Fiona Tatton, Womanthology Editor

Fiona Tatton - Womanthology Founder and Editor
Fiona Tatton

All crowdfunded out…

Hello and welcome to issue 84. The summer’s almost over and it’s time to go back to school / college / university. What have you been up to over the summer? I’d been crowdfunding in the run up to the summer and this was due to be finished by the end of July but due to the response to the campaign I decided to extend it by almost another month. Goodbye summer…! (Huge thanks to everyone who supported though. I’m now in the midst of getting the ‘perks’ ready to deliver over the coming weeks. I will keep you posted about this.)

The premise of the campaign theme was based around how I’d been told I couldn’t set up a magazine but I decided to do it anyway to prove the doubters wrong. I got frustrated at ‘regular’ women’s magazines that were all framed around fashion and lifestyle, which didn’t speak to me.

Let’s face it, the women on the covers don’t even look like the women on the covers because they’ve been ‘enhanced’ to such an extent. I was also grumpy about the fact I’ve also been bounced into the women’s magazine demographic that is all about housekeeping. There is nothing wrong with this but I couldn’t understand why it is supposed to be the full extent of my interests and aspirations now?

Anyway, I came up with the hashtag #IDidItAnyway to encapsulate that sense of “stuff you” that comes over you when someone tells you that something can’t be done and right at that moment you decide to you’re going to channel all your energies into proving that person (or even more rewarding, those people) wrong.

Never. Give. Up.

If I had discovered this incredibly powerful energy that caused me to channel all my efforts into something and fight so hard in order to make it happen, other people must have felt the same at one time or another in their lives, right? From the magazine, I already knew there were contributors who’d been told they had to give up on their dreams because they were “unrealistic”.

There’s the lovely Professor Karen Holford, now Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University, who was told she would never be an engineer. There was also Jonathan Cliffe, the midwife, who left school at 15 with no formal qualifications, having been told he would never achieve anything. I’m happy to say that he did indeed achieve lots of things. He studied for a degree in midwifery and he’s about to start his MSc. Hurrah. What do the doubters know? Nothing.

Goosebump inducing stories of tenacity and persistence

As part of the crowdfunding campaign I asked people to share their #IDidItAnyway stories on social media – mainly on Twitter and LinkedIn – and I was blown away by the response. People has some incredible stories of tenacity and persistence. Some of which brought a tear to my eye and some of which gave me goosebumps. It was such as privilege that people were prepared to share such personal stories.

There was the amazing Claire, who had been diagnosed with cancer whilst and university and was told she would have to give up her course. (Happily, she didn’t give up her course and hopefully she’s feeling better.)

There were the people who were told they couldn’t do a particular job, often because it was assumed to be a man’s job. Far and away the most prevalent category though was the one made up of people who, as children, had been told by teachers that they would never succeed, make it to university, follow their dreams.

It was this category which got me thinking most of all. Let’s be honest, we’ve all had some horrific teachers and well as some diamonds. When you reflect back on these stories as an adult they either break your heart or they make you furious. Who were these terrible teachers to undermine the confidence of their pupils in such cruel ways?

Let’s hear it for the awesome teachers who are worth their weight in gold

However, it was round about this time in the campaign that the wonderful women (and men) of #WomenEd began following the campaign. #WomenEd is a grassroots gender equality movement for women in education, co-founded by the lovely Hannah Wilson, a headteacher. It was at this point that the #WomenEd members got involved in the campaign and restored my faith in the teaching profession.

Yes, there had been awful teachers who had given up on their dreams so they trampled all over their pupils’ dreams, but now there was a voice for the true spirit of the teaching profession – the solid gold 100% incredible teachers. Many of the #WomenEd members shared their own stories of poor teaching as they were growing up that made them determined to become awesome teachers.

In this issue, we feature Louise Lucas who was told that she couldn’t become a teacher. Needless to say, she’s now doing wonderful things.

The rest of the issue is dedicated to the others in the education system – whether this is the awesome teachers, or others who are helping the students, like those who are working in charities like Magic Breakfast and Young Enterprise. Please do read their stories and bask in the hope and determination to make things better that shine through in all that they do.

I don’t want to get drawn into Whitney Houston quotes, but I actually I do believe the children are our future. I hope you enjoy this edition. It was a great pleasure to put it together with so many stories that made my heart sing.

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