You probably know my taste for puerile humour by now.
This joke (and there are many versions of it knocking around) has been a favourite since before I got married, a good twenty years ago. You can imagine how well it went down, the first time I used it on my (rather fierce) ex-mother-in-law. I received what we might call an ‘old-fashioned look’, with added chilli. Nowadays, poking fun at someone’s verbosity is also self-referential, because, yes, I unashamedly like to talk! In my defence, it’s because I ‘live’ in 1592.
‘You will, generally, be rewarded for originality, but the crazier your argument is, the better your reasoning should be’.
Originally intended as a confidence-builder for the chronically-tentative, it’s become a cliché in my teaching that ‘in English, there’s no such thing as a wrong answer’. Increasingly, though, and especially at A Level, I’m finding it necessary to qualify that empowering notion.Perhaps students were getting a little too emboldened, as we’ll see below.Just as Squealer in Animal Farm reminds us that ‘Some animals are more equal than others’, some answers are – obviously – better than others. [a]
Almost organically, as I refined the concept, it came to be known as The Continuum of Plausibility™.I’ve been using the term here, off and on, for a while now without properly explaining it, so here goes.
Should I oppose the slings and arrows of teaching the same thing year in, year out?
… THAT is the question occupying my thoughts at the moment.
No, this isn’t a Machiavellian masterplan for world domination (although see below, perhaps it’s just part of one).
What you see above is the bare bones of a 12-week (forty-eight lesson!) Scheme of Work on Julius Caesar that I’ve been toying with producing over the summer. I’m hoping for advice – not just on the skeleton of the scheme (although that would be highly appreciated), but on whether or not to bother …
Hot ice and wondrous strange snow: the appetite for articulation …
Frequently, I ask my class to step into the time machine and join me back in 1592.
Conveniently, it’s as close as we can get to dating both Richard III and Edward II, my Key Stage 5 texts. The other plays I teach at the moment – Much Ado About Nothing and Macbeth – follow on from here.
This period was a crucible in which Drama as we know it was being born, alchemically transmuted from the didactic Morality Plays into something fresh and exciting. With my Marxist critical hat on, if we can understand the contextual elements poured into that cauldron, we can better appreciate and analyse the resultant heady brew.