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RECENT DIGITAL GARDEN UPDATES

The Newbolt Report: The Teaching of English in England (1921)
What is English teaching?
What is Learning?
What is the best way to teach Vocabulary?

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Black Beth and the Devils of Al-Kadesh

Very glad I found this in W.H. Smiths. Written by Alec Worley with art by Dani, Black Beth is the revival by Rebellion of an obscure British comic originally created in the 1970s (but unused at the time) with one published story appearing in the Scream! Holiday Special in 1988....

Maintaining a #digitalgarden

Since the mid-1990s, I’ve maintained a personal web site of some sort. Originally my sites were constructed using Frontpage and Dreamweaver, then I used Blogger for a period until around 2010 when I moved over to keeping self-hosted WordPress sites. There was a period when I used it as a...

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Locke & Key: Hell & Gone

Pretty impressed by how enjoyable this two-issue story has been. Usually, crossovers between comics are little more than cash grabs. Glad to say this wasn’t the case. Rodriguez’ art continues to be stunning (there’s a continuation of his Little Nemo in Slumberland homage here) and the way that Hill fitted this story within early Sandman is immensely satisfying. (I do need to get started on my Sandman re-read!)

Space: 1999

70s nostalgia alert! Very excited to discover the first six Space: 1999 novels in the Oxfam shop. Love (Season 1) of Space: 1999!

Dark Horse Trio

Lousy and frustrating end to what had been a pretty good day. When I got home I found an unexpected package I guessed was a book. Turned out to be these three from Dark Horse. Cheered me up? Not ‘arf.

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FURTHER DOWN THE STREAM...

Robert Aickman’s Introduction to The 5th Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories (1969)

Aickman’s fifth introduction is brief. He summarises his previous views: that ghost stories are separate from both horror and SF and that its “true affinity” is with poetry as it is “a projection and symbolisation of thoughts and feelings” that are excluded from usual written discourse. Ghost stories, he believes,...

Then we danced the dance ’til the menace got out

Positively pleased with my new Synology DS220+ NAS. Last week, part of my old NAS, a WD My Book Live, was remotely wiped. WD’s solution is to tell users to disconnect until they investigated the issue. It was clearly too late for me and I was worried that the other...

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...

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...