QotW (#87): 02 September 2019

… and we’re back to school today, for another year’s fun and games.

Cue all kinds of traffic on Twitter and elsewhere on-line: pre-battle speeches from the veterans; advice sought by the newbies, and given by the self-styled ‘influencers’; new teaching-year resolutions declared; virtue-signalling pictures of classroom displays, and so on …

Have I got anything to add to the Babel? Not really.  I’d rather chat about Literature …

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Forensic Friday #019: 1HIV IV.i

 

northern lights gif

It seems I’m not alone in placing the Northern Lights at or near the top of my (fairly small) bucket list.  Some of my strongest, and most content, memories are of nights spent looking upwards at the indescribable grandeur and beauty of the universe (I highly recommend this corner of Reddit you need a regular fix of infinity, by the way).

Imagine how travellers in earlier ages would have tried to express seeing the Northern Lights when they returned home.  That’s where I’m headed today … considering how we describe the indescribable …

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QotW (#85) 12 August 2019

shakespeare map

Particularly when teaching writing, I’ve often compared a text to a map.  My thoughts generally run like this:

When your reader lands on a fresh page of prose, they haven’t got a clue what landscape they are standing on; it’s up to us as writers to orientate them, and our language forms the contour lines and the key to the world we are mapping out for them.  We have to make careful decisions about what and how much to show – how far they can see; how quickly they can recognise signs, symbols and the direction of travel.  We need to contextualise what they’re reading, even if that is the relationship between this page and the previous one, or this paragraph and the one before it, because context is key to avoiding the dizzy nausea that can turn a reader off.

Conversely, when teaching close reading, it’s all very well spotting WHAT a writer is trying to do.  By the time pupils hit KS3 at Y7 they can all spot a simile: a symbol on the map.  But how many students, even when we get up to the heights of Y13 can really read the map, talk about WHY the simile was employed; WHY that particular comparison was chosen?

Context, in it’s broader sense, is everything

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Forensic Friday #018: 1HIV II.iv

Play Extempore

If all the year were playing holidays,

To sport would be as tedious as to work (I.ii)

Erm … no!

Prince Hal is one of those annoying, frankly very boring people who simply don’t have sufficient imagination to have hobbies. The ones who pine away six months into hard-earned retirement, or keep coming into work after you thought you’d finally got rid of them, to ‘keep their hand in, and check the youngsters haven’t stuffed it up yet.’ AND they no longer contribute towards the coffee fund!

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QotW (#84): 29 July 2019

armada gods breath
‘God blew and they were scattered’

You almost feel sorry for the Spanish …

Today marks the day when the undeniably mighty Armada, reeling from a night attack by fireships and blocked from retreating down the Channel, was pummelled by English ships and scattered northwards by storms.  Unable to regroup, they tried – and many failed – to get home the hard way, via Scotland and Ireland.

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Forensic Friday (016): 1 Henry IV, I.ii

celebrate-thumbs-up
Never mind the students – today’s the year’s climax for the TEACHERS!

By the time you read this I will be gone.  Long gone.  And I won’t be back for, ooh, six weeks.  School’s out for summer!

Well, we got no class
And we got no principals
We ain’t got no intelligence
We can’t even think of a word that rhymes [a]

I can almost hear Falstaff singing this, not Alice Cooper

Don’t knock teacher holidays until you have tried the profession for a few years.  You’ll soon realise that half-term weeks are misnomers, and should be labelled ‘admin / sleep’ weeks, and large chunks of the longer holidays are eaten up by marking or planning.  We’re not actually that much better off than other professions when it comes to quality time pretending your job doesn’t exist.

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Forensic Friday (015): 1 Henry IV: I.i

subtitled:  “don’t shoot the messenger, please …

Welsh Women Dress
Bronwen and Ffion played it cool whilst Myfanwy reached under the table for her specially sharpened sugar tongs …

Let not your ears despise my tongue for ever,
Which shall possess them with the heaviest sound
That ever yet they heard.  (Macbeth, IV, iii)

It’s a small episode, a tiny mouthful in the gargantuan feast that is 1 Henry IV.

But somehow the sexual disfigurement of the bodies of dead soldiers sticks in my mind, jostling for position amongst the bawdiness and burlesque, the heroics and hubris, the pathos and the pageantry.

It felt like a suitably challenging subject for this instalment of Forensic Friday, as I move away from exam texts for a while …

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