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Talk for Learning

Notes from A Dialogic Teaching Companion by Robin Alexander (2020). Chapter 2 – Talk for Learning In this chapter, Alexander explores the relationship between talk and the development of a child. He examines the shift in the 1970s between the child as “lone scientist” to “apprentice”. The persistence of recitation...

Prologue to A Dialogic Teaching Companion

Notes from A Dialogic Teaching Companion by Robin Alexander (2020) Chapter 1 – Prologue In the Prologue, Robin Alexander gives a case for teaching talk as an essential tool in teaching and learning. He describes the positive value of dialogic teaching and asserts that there is a strong evidence base...

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World of Black Hammer vol.3

Pleased to see the Library Editions of Black Hammer come out so frequently. Got this yesterday and just unpacked it this morning. I adore Tyler Crook’s artwork so this is a lovely Saturday morning pleasure.

Literature IS the operating instructions

Reading Ursula Le Guin’s **Words Are My Matter**, which is incredibly uplifting.

At one point Le Guin insists:

“Words are what matter. The sharing of words. The activation of the imagination through the reading of words.”

Thor 164

It’s a long time since I last bought an issue for my Warlock run. Got this today, Thor #164, which has – in the last couple of panels – there ‘s a glimpse of Him. It’s not in as good condition as I thought (there’s a little cover separation). Great Kirby art!

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PREVIOUSLY...

Robert Aickman’s Introduction to The 4th Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories (1967)

Aickman leads his fourth introduction to the Fontana Ghost Stories collection with a renewed attack on modern rationalism: “science will end the world,” he asserts. He goes on: “Even if there is no big bang, we shall destroy the world in no time, if we go on as we are....

“build a ladder of opportunity so that the able can get ahead”

Provocative New Statesman article by Adrian Wooldridge which insists that the key to the “reinvention” of the Labour Party is by going back to basics – appealing to the “new working class that is growing alongside the old one” – and reinstating a belief in meritocracy, “the belief that individuals...

To Coalition and Beyond: Back to the Future?

Notes from English and Its Teachers by Simon Gibbons (2017) In Chapter 6, Simon Gibbons brings the book up to date (to 2017 which – after Covid 19 and the lockdowns – seems an age ago). He presets a largely bleak and somewhat dispiriting picture of current English teaching in schools...

Writing Wrongs, TES

Great article in this week’s TES about the teaching of writing. Liz Chamberlain (Open University) and Rob Drane (English subject lead at the University of Cambridge) argue that writing is being taught in primary schools causes “a disconnect between how we view writing in the real world, and how writing...

New Labour, New Policies

Notes from English and Its Teachers by Simon Gibbons (2017) In Chapter 5, Gibbons focuses on New Labour’s impact on English. The Labour government sought to tackle the underachievement of poorer children. This was when I started teaching and remember all too well the exhausting period of the National Strategies....

“Honestly, I think I would know if there were aliens”

It’s a long time since I’ve read anything interesting about UFOs, but this article for NBC by Rizwan Virk, founder of Play Labs at MIT, seems to indicate that – while the area of ufology is generally mocked by scientists and big tech – there’s obviously something significant happening. Virk...

Denial and Delusion of the Thatcher Years

As someone who grew up in Thatcher’s Britain, it’s hard not to see the parallels between how fragmented and bleak things seem now and how it was back then. I’m not the only one. Very good piece by Guardian columnist John Harris who notes how the visible decline of Britain...

Some Thoughts About Caitlin R Kiernan’s Black Helicopters

Professor Zeh sits in his office in Heidelberg. It’s 1969. Rain falls outside and Zeh’s office window is nothing but a dark grey rectangle. He’s smudged the ink in his notebook, jotting down a thought about Bohr’s interpretation of measurement he had while staring at his reflection in a mirror...

Popular Opinion

Frightening – and yet unsurprising – report explaining how Facebook is used by politicians to unduly influence public opinion through the creation of incredible numbers of fake comments and likes from a tiny number of users. The report is based around an interview with Sophie Zhang, a former data scientist...

Hauntology Defined

An excellent definition of hauntology by the A Year in the Country site. “This is an area of culture where the use, appreciation and romance of often older electronic music technologies, reference points and inspirations segues and intertwines with the more bucolic wanderings and landscapes of exploratory, otherly pastoralism and...

Robert Aickman’s Introduction to The 3rd Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories (1966)

In this introduction to the third Fontana collection of Great Ghost Stories, Aickman engages with the nature of our desire to read supernatural fiction. He views it as “the need we all must feel for some degree of reconciliation with death”. Ghost stories themselves haunt modern society, allowing imaginary freedom...

Problems in English

Notes from Making Meaning in English by David Didau (2021) Chapter 2: Problems in English This chapter defines English as a “folk discipline” where its teachers have limited understanding of effective approaches. Didau dismisses “skills-based” teaching and, instead, proposes a “knowledge-based” approach. He also shows concern that students practise the...

Robert Aickman’s Introduction to The 2nd Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories (1966)

Little new ground is covered in Aickman’s second introduction to Fontana’s Book of Great Ghost Stories series (1966). He retreads his previous suggestions about the nature of ghost stories from the first volume and notes that the 1960s seem to favour Nineteenth Century arts (ghost stories, music), blaming the “new...

What is English for?

Notes from Making Meaning in English by David Didau (2021) Chapter 1: What is English for? This chapter presents the current state of English, drawing on its history as a school subject to explain how and why English seems “lost” as a school subject with teachers ignorant of its past...

Introduction to Making Meaning in English

Notes from Making Meaning in English by David Didau (2021) Introduction David Didau offers a third way that appears to reconcile the traditional and progressive strains within English teaching. He notes how English does not have an agreed body of knowledge or purpose. Didau believes that changes to the academic...

Robert Aickman’s Introduction to The Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories (1964)

Between 1964 and 1972, Robert Aickman sought to define the canon of supernatural stories and collected them in a series published by Fontana. The introduction to the first Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories (1964) has a bleak, nihilistic tone. Aickman sets the contemporary view of the ghost story in...

“Capital Punishment” by Danielle Jones (TES, 20210226)

“Cultural poverty is not the pressing priority,” Danielle Jones argues in a TES article. It’s economic disadvantage. Jones refers to Bourdieu and briefly draws a connection between wealthy families and possession of cultural capital. She believes that OFSTED’s interest in cultural capital has an “unarticulated assumption, therefore, is that economic...

The Fascist Painting: What is Cultural Capital? by Phil Beadle (2020)

“How many rich kids are there in your Year 10 bottom set?” asks Phil Beadle at one point in The Fascist Painting. He doesn’t need to present a reciprocal question about Eton or other public school. For teachers aware of the social inequities of the school system in the UK,...

Johnson’s Kulturkampf

Peter Jukes and Hardeep Matharu’s How Myths of Britishness Are Turning Totalitarian shows how culture is currently weaponised in the UK to enable a right-wing government that engenders a condition of disillusionment and delusion leading to the sort if paranoia seen in the US. Jukes and Matharu view this as...

Week One: Twelfth Night (1602)

On Twelfth Night 2021 during the lockdown COVID pandemic I finished re-reading Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. It’s the first play in my attempt to read everything by Shakespeare by the end of the year. I studied Twelfth Night at A-level and taught it once for the old Key Stage Three SATs...