Archive for March, 2011
We edu-tweeters often use the catchphrase ‘connect, collaborate, create’ to signal our pedagogical perspective.
But…what about this really important fourth C:
Surely this must become another essential C-word?
I’ve been keeping an eye out for a range of texts (‘literary’ and ‘pop culture’) that I can use in lessons with preservice English teachers. I’m looking for things that are interesting texts in their own right, as well as can shed some light on an important aspect of secondary education or English curriculum.
My find for today is: Mary Poppins (1964)
In every job that must be done
There is an element of fun -
you find the fun and snap!
The job’s a game!
An uplifting message and one which bears a clear connection to Games Based Learning.
There are certainly conflicting discourses in the song though – I’d love to take an extract from 1984 to compare and contrast here, the one where Orwell describes how the proles are kept in line through pop music and the lottery…
‘a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down’ (eek!?)
Another one of my favourite songs from the movie (and no, I’m not generally a fan of musicals) and another that I think bears exploration is the Chiminey Sweep song. I’ll let you do your own reading of that one!
Chim chim cher-oo!
Good luck will rub off when
I shake ‘ands with you
Or blow me a kiss
And that’s lucky too
Now as the ladder of life
‘As been strung
You may think a sweep’s
On the bottommost rung
Though I spends me time
In the ashes and smoke
In this ‘ole wide world
There’s no ‘appier bloke
Up where the smoke is
All billered and curled
‘Tween pavement and stars
Is the chimney sweep world
When the’s ‘ardly no day
Nor ‘ardly no night
There’s things ‘alf in shadow
And ‘alf way in light
On the roof tops of London
Coo, what a sight!
I choose me bristles with pride
Yes, I do
A broom for the shaft
And a broom for the flume
Though I’m covered with soot
From me ‘ead to me toes
A sweep knows ‘e’s welcome
Wherever ‘e goes
Chim chim cher-ee!
When you’re with a sweep
You’re in glad company…
Stepping it up this week a bit in the ‘modelling-best-practice’ stakes…
It occured to me that as I am advocating the importance of studying texts and their traditions to…well basically, the development of human society as we know it, that I’m not doing enough of this in my own university classes.
Last week I got a real buzz relating the theoretical material in this unit to contemporary texts and practices, namely to the story of Terminator II and to the ‘Pirates vs Ninjas’ meme. So this week I am using another text as a way to relate to theory, this time going into even more depth.
I have chosen the film Pleasantville. I am going to use this film to explore ‘critical literacy’ and interrogate the resistance to critical reading of text in secondary English.
Yes I am.
Now, to construct the learning experiences.
In the lecture I am going to focus in on metalanguage, showing students how historical paradigms of English curriculum (skills, cultural heritage, personal growth, critical-cultural) have been revisioned in two more recent literacy frameworks that have had significant influence on contemporary English curriculum – Luke and Freebody’s ‘Four Resources’ model, and Green’s ‘Three Dimensions’ of literacy (which we have already been using at length). I’m also going to rock their world by showing them how subject-specific pedagogy relates to more general theories of pedagogy, such as the ‘Productive Pedagogies’ that are used here in QLD, as well as to theories of learning such as Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy.
The two hour tutorial though. Hmmm.
My message in the coming weeks will be to embrace ‘workshops’ as well as individual and group ‘project based learning’ as alternative approaches to lesson organisation. I want them to start thinking about how we traditionally do “class” and what learning experiences are encouraged there. As I’m electing to ‘put my money where my mouth is’ this week I suppose I should give them a taste of this too…but what to do?
Perhaps I will split the two hours into a ‘workshop’ and a ‘project’. Will I have time for both? I’d like to also screen the first ~20 minutes of the film in class, giving me 30 minutes for the rest of the workshop.
That leaves ~50 minutes for students to complete a seperate project. But what?
I’ve been watching Bianca do this – I know I need to start with a driving question or challenge…
…and thus I am away to make coffee and have a think about this.
Ideas welcome x
In honour of my wonderful students in English Curriculum Studies 1 who I suspect this week are getting a leeettle fed up with a seemingly endless web of theoretical models for curriculum and pedagogy.
But don’t worry, as Charlie would say, we are “winning“!
Howard: Well, you know. About, me. I’m a free spirit, Vince.
Howard: Yeah I can’t be hemmed in. People try. They try to put me in a box, but I break free.
Vince: Who’s trying to put you in a box?
Howard: It’s the nature of me. It’s the nature of Howard Moon.
Vince: Who’s trying to put you in a box?
Howard: Well, people, you know. The Man.
Vince: Have you contacted the police about this?
Howard: No, “The Man”. You know what I’m talking about, yeah?
Vince: What are you on about?
Howard: People are always trying to put people in boxes.
Vince: No one’s trying to put you in a box. You’re the wrong size, for a start.
Howard: [sighing] Let’s forget about this conversation, okay?
Vince: How would you even get in a box?
The Mighty Boosh, Series 1 Episode 8 ‘The Hitcher’
Whether you liked the tone of Julia Gillard’s address to the US Congress or you thought it was an “unnecessary suck“, you can’t deny that she made some powerful statements. Her insistence that Trade = Jobs was a clear signal to Congress that a policy of trade with Australia would be of more benefit in the long run to the US economy than the protectionist farming subsidies that are currently under consideration.
The other powerful statement of course was the flaming red/orange (let’s call it vermilion?) jacket that she wore for the speech. It had such a visual impact, drawing the eye straight to her, guaranteeing she was the focus. It was so bright that it dulled the red in her own hair, and it also occurred to me that it was near enough to ‘Labor red’ to count as an attempt at branding.
Why am I so interested in Julia’s clothes?
I recently watched a TED Talk given by Madeleine Albright about being a woman and a diplomat. She told an excellent story about how and why she started using her jacket pins (or brooches) to symbolise her stance and attitude while she was Secretary of State. It’s a fascinating idea. On one hand of course so infuriating that women have to pay such close attention to their costume while men’s choices in business attire very rarely attracts a second glance. This only goes so far though – I guarantee that if a dude showed up to address congress in a bright red jacket, we’d be talking about it!
But the potential for using costume intentionally to codify our position or beliefs…I can’t say that I would rather we all wore grey suits cut from virtually the same cloth. And in this increasingly visual age isn’t it natural for us to increasingly draw on visual codes and conventions to communicate meaning?
If you haven’t come across Madeleine Albright’s talk before, I recommend it. It’s a 13 minute long interview and contains one of my new favourite quotes of all time:
There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.