Can you overdose on Shakespeare?

BH will kempe
Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t how we teachers spend our time once the exams are over …

‘Give me excess of it, that surfeiting,

The appetite may sicken and so die.’

(DUKE ORSINO:  Twelfth Night, I.i.2-3)

So, as we enter the final stretch, you’d think that we teachers would be winding down, right?  Imitating Will Kemp in his warm up for his ‘Nine Days’ Wonder‘, by cavorting up and down the corridors of the English block in carefree abandon, greeting fellow English teachers with a hearty ‘hey, nonny nonny!‘ as we pass their empty classrooms?

Not a bit of it, sadly.  Whilst our exam classes have donned their gladrags and tottered off into the distance on their improbable high heels (and that’s just the boys, obviously), we’re left with end-of-year assessments for everyone else, which naturally have to be turned around pretty damn quickly.

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Lend me your ears: support Drew Dzwonkowski’s ‘foolish’ side project …

BH caesarweb
(C) Drew Dzwonkowski

A running theme in the play is how Caesar’s assassination is going to be remembered and reenacted for centuries to come, so I drew the swimmers in modern clothes.

I had a ‘tense’ conversation with a Y10 lad today.  He has about a week to work on a 5-minute or so presentation.  The subject is entirely open to him, but it ought to be something he has sufficient interest in that he can produce a structured, coherent talk, with the ability to think on his feet and answer potentially tricky questions on it afterwards (if he wants to get a decent mark).  It contributes towards his GCSE qualification under the new specification, and he could be asked to reprise the performance at our school’s ‘Work-Ready Day‘ in two weeks’ time: an important shop window for pupils to get noticed by major local employers, where talent HAS been ‘spotted’ in the past.  And ‘scouted’.  Despite the fact that the students would rather eat their own tongues than do the presentation once, let alone twice …

Why am I telling you this?

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‘Upping my game’ …

BH upstart crow tv large with quote.jpg

Picture the scene – I was told today by one of my sixth-form students that an English lecturer at a university taster was ‘really funny’ …

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PTS 03/020: The Enemy Within

BH red menace
You never quite know who’s working for the other side, do you … ?

Is it me, or does the guy in the picture look like a young James Comey?

Henry VI part III: act V

So, very belatedly, we reach the end of the road for Henry VI, and of history plays for a short while.  I’m sad to say goodbye.  The comedies aren’t generally my favourites, and these three HVI plays have been ones I’ve unjustly avoided until now.  It’s been a brilliant rollercoaster ride.

Last time round, I said there could only be one, and finally, mercifully, someone does for Henry.  And we all know who that someone is, right?  Only one man for the job …

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Crimes against Shakespeare 003

BH exam mistakes

or simply Much Ado About Nothing … ?

students were in tears after the exam

A multiple choice question for the adults.  Or for my students, who sat their Shakespeare exam on Monday just gone.  You sit an exam where you have a choice of two questions.  One question appears to make no sense. Do you:

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The Long Goodbye …

BH long goodbye

If we do meet again, why, we shall smile;
If not, why then, this parting was well made.  (Brutus, Julius Caesar:  Act V, scene I)

This morning, at 9am, my Y11 students sit their first GCSE English exam – 1 hour, 45 minutes on The Tempest and Conan Doyle’s The Sign of Four … and so begins the ‘long goodbye’ …

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Beat the Teacher (Part 2)

BH memory tricks

Our Y11 (15/16 year old) students have the first of their English Literature GCSE exams on Monday

This is the last year, at my school, when we will (effectively) have autonomy over the texts we teach.  Next year, we will only offer Macbeth or Romeo and Juliet at GCSE.  It sounds like a retrograde move, but what it does ensure – I suppose – is that we have teachers, multiple, who can deliver the texts, both in the classroom and – importantly, considering I am in school today (Sunday) – in revision sessions.  I am largely in school today because I’m the only one who can do The Tempestnobody’s fault but mine, as Led Zeppelin might say.

The AQA specification offers the following texts:

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