I’d hazard that proportionately, more of us who Read (capitalisation intended), and who write blogs, believe themselves capable of writing a book. I mean, look at The Boar’s Head – just over a quarter of a million words written since its inception in 2016.
So from about Easter onwards this year I was declaring to my older classes with increasing insouciance that this summer, of all summers, was the one that I would spend writing ‘The Book‘ …
Stacey Halls, The Familiars, (London:Zaffre, 2019)
Despite the anachronism of Elizabeth I’s lengthy reign, the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries provide rich pickings for any author attempting to write a feminist exposition of the harsh injustices visited on so many women.
Perhaps there’s none harsher than the treatment of witches …
One of the lovely things about the online teaching community is the sharing of resources. Teachers have an innate desire to help – not just their own pupils but other teachers too. Most are happy to share freely the resources they have created. We are at heart a collegial profession and the free sharing of resources is really one of our greatest strengths.
And whilst this is a good thing, it has also created a system where The Resource has achieved an elevated status in the currency of teaching.
The problem is that I think that the elevation of The Resource has obscured what should be the gold standard of teaching: subject knowledge.
I have worked in a department where the PowerPoint was king. In that department, all scheme of work planning had to be accompanied by a PowerPoint to share with the rest of the teachers. The premise being…
When my Dearest Partner of Greatness (DPG) and I were discussing Trilogy Day at The Globe, THIS is the scene that prompted my suggestion she come along to this first play.Curiosity mixed with mischief as I thought about her reaction to an English representation of the national hero, Owain Glyndŵr …
Dan Jones, The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses and the Rise of the Tudors, (London: Faber & Faber, 2015)
Dan Jones’ muscular account begins with Catherine de Valois’ marriage to Henry V in 1420, and ends in 1541, with the brutal execution of Margaret Pole (at 67) by Henry VIII; the final remnant of the Plantagenet dynasty to be mopped up by the Tudors.
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?
I’ve been known to use A Clockwork Orange as a way of accessing Shakespeare: if you can decipher Burgess’s prose in that, my reasoning goes, Shakespeare should hold few terrors for you – simply apply the same skills. That’s a dazzling novel. So I approached A Dead Man in Deptfordwith some excitement and expectation, stoked by one of the most visually arresting book covers I’ve seen in years.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named (Henry V: IV,iii)
… IF their legs are still working, that is. Shakespeare’s Globe staged three plays last Saturday, and a ‘happy few‘ of us bought groundling tickets for the trilogy. Here’s how I got on. [spoilers ahead]