QotW: 18 June 2018 (#46)

Marlowe was never going to fit in. In some ways I wish he hadn’t tried so hard – he would have lasted longer.

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What?

‘We don’t like mavericks here …’

– is what I was told some years back at my first school.  My first school, just to be clear …

It’s not a default position, I promise you – I honestly don’t aspire to be a maverick.  It’s simply about my always bearing in mind the attributed words of Einstein:  the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results.  So if it demonstrably doesn’t work or doesn’t make sense, you need to find someone else, if you want blind obedience.  How do we improve, otherwise?  Plus, my teaching mentor gave me advice I’ve never forgotten, and which has served me well (and my students, if results are anything to judge by*).  We might paraphrase it as:  ‘As long as you know where should be taking the students, don’t stress about abandoning the lesson plan and getting there via another route.

So, admittedly, I can be a:

maverick     ˈmav(ə)rɪk/  noun
  1. 1.  an unorthodox or independent-minded person.

But, surely, no SURELY, this what we aim to foster in our children (what actually we reward in the subject: critical, evaluative thinking and independence of ideas – those terms are on the markschemes, at the top end) … right? Or does education exist to train people into unthinking passivity?

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QotW: 04 June 2018 (#44)

Students laugh when they hear it, but Anne was in deadly earnest …

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We have hedgehogs.

I say ‘we’, but I’m appropriating the cute nocturnal visitors at my Snowdonia home (also known as ‘her place‘) …

Having spent most of the week camping in the back garden – yes, by choice – I’ve become a lot more familiar with their comings and goings: their enthusiastic crunching of mealworms (these are spoiled, and resolutely ignore the slugs they are supposed to be eating – I’ve seen them nudge slugs aside with their snouts!); their irritated huffing and snorting when a rival appears at bowl number two, all within a couple of feet of my head.

Which, of course, makes me more sensitive to the hedgehogs – just three of them* – in Shakespeare

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QotW (#43): 28 May 2018

Manners maketh the man, it seems …

Elizabeth I of England

It wasn’t till I got to University that I came across Malcolm’s ‘king becoming graces’ in Macbeth.  I thought them startling – an almost impudent challenge to James I about what the country expected from their new monarch, in a play which, I’m increasingly convinced, is all about what it means to be a ‘man’:

As justice, verity, temperance, stableness,
Bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness,
Devotion, patience, courage, fortitude,  (IV, iii) [a]

But what of those in the level below?  What were the expectations placed on nobles and courtiers?

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Quote of the Week: 21 May 2018 (#42)

Let battle commence: Shakesparring was the highlight of last week …

 

Friday found myself and a colleague sacrificing a precious free period (one of only four per week) for the opportunity to Shake-spar … and what fun it was.

Let me set the scene – one of our colleagues in the department was unwell.  She also teaches A Level Lit to Year 12, and would have done so in period 2, when I’m free.  Two of the students in that class are in my form, so I casually said to them in the morning that if there were ‘any problems‘ relating to that lesson, they ought to come and see me.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised to find about a dozen girls at my door at about 09:55?

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Quote of the Week: 14 May 2018 (#41)

Having fun exploring the role of literature in preserving an unfair system …

BH capitalism1Last week finished with me in full theatrical mode, pacing the classroom like a restless, caged predator, declaiming at full volume (and probably decreasingly coherently), on the likely politics of Marlowe and Tennyson.  That’ll teach my Y13s to ask for some ideas on Marxist Literary Criticism (AO5, folks), during Period 6 on a Friday …

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Quote of the Week: 07 May 2018 (#40)

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Mistrust might be too strong a word, but there was always a youthful rebellious streak in me (Catholic-educated in what was at the time a pretty Catholic town), pushing against what I increasingly viewed as the bastard child of The Party in Orwell‘s Nineteen Eighty-Four and a medieval Ponzi scheme.  The Catholic hierarchy increasingly personified notions of hypocritical middle-men, ‘eternal life’ assurance brokers, gatekeepers against the hereafter who would feed on the poor, vulnerable and frightened, whilst actually allowing anyone through, if the price was right.

Finally, I officially ‘fell out’ with God in a completely predictable spat  – over bureacracy, not the Bible; red tape, not redemption; compliance, not communion …

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Quote of the Week: 30 April 2018 (#39)

Actually, INTERTEXTUALITY is king in English Lit …

BH penguin mountain

Think of this familiar toy as Jan Kott‘s Great Mechanism of History.

With one small difference: imagine that once the cute penguins reach the top – kingship – the next step is not an exhilarating slide but more of a plunge onto the razor-sharp rocks of tragedy.  They are immediately replaced by the next penguin (King Penguin?  Emperor Penguin?) on his or her own journey to bloody immolation and little more than the proverbial footnote in the history book, if they’re lucky …

‘It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’ [a]

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