Tag Archives: education

GCSE English

Tomorrow, a friend’s son will visit me and we will discuss W. B. Yeat’s poem “An Irish Airman Forsees His Death”, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/57311/an-irish-airman-foresees-his-death

A’s son is preparing for his GCSE in english. Part of the exam will entail him analysing a poem he has not previously seen, on the theme of power and conflict. He will need to analyse the techniques used and make an evaluative judgement on the poem.

I am, of course delighted to help, and hope that our time together will be productive in terms of A’s son being able to develop the skills enabling him to analyse poetry. I will ask my friend’s son to say what he thinks of the poem in general terms, and then go on to ascertain his views on the techniques being utilised.

Although I write poetry, my degree is in history and politics and I hold no formal qualification in either creative writing or English Literature (other than an A-Level in the latter subject). Tomorrow will therefore be something of a learning curve for both my friend’s teenage son and myself.

(Note: I have no idea as to what poem will be set when A’s son sits his GCSE English. It could, so far as I am aware, be any poem concerning power and conflict).

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The British Library Explores The History Of Writing

From tomorrow (Friday 26 April), the British Library will be hosting an exhibition concerning the history of writing. The exhibits include an ancient egyptian tablet which demonstrates that concerns about the quality of homework are far from being new! It also shows that worries regarding the decline in hand-writing are not confined to the 21st century. For more information please visit, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/apr/24/living-by-the-pen-british-library-explores-history-of-writing.

Kevin

Men Mowing

As I at lessons sat
In school
(Generally obeying the rule),
I oft did hear,
Sometimes far, at others near,
A sound clear,
That of men mowing,
Knowing where they where going.

On my way home tonight
I had the delight
Of smelling new mown grass,
Which brought to mind
A more settled time
When I at lessons sat
Reading rhyme,
And men were amowing
Knowing where they where going.
Sometimes I almost weep,
When I think on what my country may reap.

Learning Poetry By Rote

An amusing article concerning the merits of learning poetry by rote, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2260419/Ill-vote-learning-poetry-rote.html. (The author is not in favour of said practice). As one of the commenters states, in the comments following on from the piece, much of the poetry I can recall is that from which I derived pleasure, for example Dowson’s “They Are Not Long The Weeping And The Laughter” and Beloc’s “On An Election”.

As someone or other once wrote:
There was a young Man called Moat
Who learned a poem by rote.
It was somewhat long
And concerned a thong
Or perhaps it was a goat!

Should only black teachers teach black children about slavery?

Some time ago, I came across this post, https://solifegoeson.com/2017/12/20/white-teachers-who-teach-black-kids-about-slavery-piss-me-off/. I commented, however as my comment was not published I feel compelled to state my opinion here.

In the above post the author argues (essentially) that white teachers should not teach black children about slavery because they (the teachers) do not understand the experience of non-white people (the prejudice faced by those who’s skin is black). At the end of the post the blogger does recommend that one way forward is for those who teach to come from a greater diversity of backgrounds. However the whole tone of the article is hostile to the concept of the teaching of slavery to black children by white teachers.

I am not black. I am, however disabled (I am registered blind). Throughout history disabled people have faced discrimination. This discrimination manifested itself in various forms, including the forced sterilisation of those with disabilities on eugenic grounds. Eugenics reached horrific heights during the Third Reich when Nazi doctors, SS officers and nurses murdered the disabled under the T-4 programme. Indeed the use of gas was first employed on the disabled prior to it being used to exterminate approximately 6 million Jews (men, women and children). You can find out about Action T4 here, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aktion_T4.

I don’t, as a disabled person, (nor as someone who holds a degree in history and politics) argue that only disabled people are capable of teaching about the T4 Programme. To argue thus would be narrow minded on my part. Yes, as a disabled person I face difficulties and (on occasions) discrimination not encountered by non-disabled people, however those possessing empathy/those of goodwill can understand (and teach) about such matters.

It concerns me that if we carry the argument promulgated in the above article to its logical conclusion, that only disabled people will teach about disability related matters, only women will lecture on the discrimination faced by women throughout the ages etc. This risks leading to a closed academic environment, one in which I don’t wish to live.

Why You Should Read and Write Poetry

A good article on The Imaginative Conservative, entitled “Why You Should Read and Write Poetry”, http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2018/01/read-write-poetry-dwight-longenecker.html