Teaching English, Summer 2019

The latest issue of Teaching English, N.A.T.E.’s magazine, dropped through our letterbox this morning and is a always a welcome insight into the best thinking of English teachers’ professional association.

It’s a magazine I always look forward to reading. The theme of this issue is using self-research to develop classroom practice. Among the articles, I found these ones most interesting:

ICT: Opportunity Missed by Trevor Millum – an article that examines what’s happening to the use of digital tech in English classrooms. Millum says the “over the last 10 years, ICT has been undergoing something of a crisis in English schools”. His analysis seems accurate to me: the axing of BECTA, the perception that digital tech isn’t needed in English classrooms and budget cuts. He argues that this is different in other parts of the UK. I agree with Millum’s concerns about the way that big corporations are influencing pedagogy. He suggests that established constants, like word processors, that can be used in all aspects of English study and composition.

Confronting Gradgrind: Employability and English by Robert Eaglestone – looks at why numbers of students studying English at A-level and university is in decline. Dickens’ Gradgrind is used to illustrate the current perception of education simply being about employability. Eaglestone goes on to use examples to show how English is advantageous in furthering a career, citing Google’s Project Oxygen and the company’s desire to recruit employees with skills in “communication, collaboration, critical thinking, independence and adaptability”.

39 Steps… To Engaging With Poetry by Trevor Millum and Chris Warren – here are steps 13-15 of what has been an incredibly useful series so far.

The Case for Language by Dan Clayton – reminds us how important teaching Knowledge About Language is.

Rethinking KS3: A Novel Approach by Barbara Bleiman – a fantastic report on teaching a novel with Year 9 classes. I liked the way in which the department developed a shared (planned) approach to the novel, group work, no explicit planning – or teaching – to a test, encouragement of broader written responses rather than tightly structured ones. There were positive outcomes, most notably that boys were more engaged.