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 (#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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Cultural Capital 06: Bacon’s Essays

Not, repeat NOT, Shakespeare in disguise, thanks very much …

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[part of a monthly series aimed at my Sixth Formers, and the texts they are currently studying]

First things first – we need to be clear which Francis Bacon we are talking about!

Perhaps reluctantly, we need to steer clear of the 20th Century Irish Existentialist artist whose ‘screaming popes’*, amongst other works, are so disturbingly brilliant.  That Francis is part of our ‘cultural capital’ too, but less useful for your studies.

Instead, let’s turn to the man perhaps best known as the ‘father of the scientific method’.  In other, crazier, circles, it’s also muttered that he was, in fact, the ‘real’ William Shakespeare.  Try to avoid those people – they also tend to wear tin foil hats, believe that the world is flat, and that climate change is a myth … 

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A Restless Ecstasy …

Here’s looking at you, H …

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So.

It’s been a long, hard, day.  No, really!  In amongst the pre-school meeting; the marking; the trying to keep your errant Year 11s just on this side of hysteria, given they have their second English Lit exam on Friday; the data (two classes’ worth, by lunchtime, thanks very much); the lunchtime storytelling club for younger pupils; the broken photocopiers; and the almost insignificant matter of actually teaching,  you need an oasis of calm.

Or two …

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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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PTS 11/068: ‘Team Richard’ T-shirt Time …

The power of beauty vs. the beauty of power …

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Cambridge Shakespeare Festival 2014.  Image: ME

An emerging theme in my reading – and teaching – is the notion of being careful what you wish for.  For too many, Nietzsche’s ‘will to power’ is ephemeral, evaporating once a goal is achieved.  To others, it is an insatiable addiction. What links both is the outcome: unhappiness and deep satisfaction – the former cannot easily retain their newly won goal; the latter need another, greater fix of achievement.
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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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