This paper is an exploration of the concept of homesickness and the migrant's relation to the idea of home. It draws on the writer's personal experience of Caribbean migrationdiscussing different phases and facets in the evolution of the construct that includes notions of essence and hybridity. It suggests how a return to home' and roots can broaden the understanding of what it means to inhabit the modern worldand also help in the continuous process of reconstructing identity.
Grammar's place in English teaching seems to be constantly under review. This paper reflects on the status and methods of grammar teaching at the moment. In particular, it explores both the positive and negative impact of the Key Stage 3 Framework for Teaching English on teaching and learning. It goes on to analyse the writer's experiences of teaching grammar as a student teacher, and asks whether the methods we are using today are adequate for the needs of young writers.
The author describes a semester teaching basic composition to a class of New York City women college students on public assistance. His narrative dramatizes how the students write in powerful and impressive ways on a variety of themes and have original and interesting responses to the short stories they read and to a guest author they meet.
In this paper we highlight findings from a teacher inquiry group study designed to explore possibilities for teaching contemporary Canadian literature to promote issues of social justice in secondary classrooms. Drawing on Boler and Zembylas’s6.
Boler, M., and M. Zembylas. 2003. “Discomforting Truths: The Emotional Terrain of Understanding Difference.” In Pedagogies of Difference: Rethinking Education for Social Change, edited by P. P. Trifonas, 110–136. New York, NY: RoutledgeFalmer.View all references notion of a ‘pedagogy of discomfort’, our paper will focus on the experiences of two teachers in the group who, through the selection and teaching of two Aboriginal Canadian texts, moved away from well-established pedagogical practices. We explore the role of the inquiry group in supporting teachers in their attempts to problematize unquestioned assumptions and address the absences in their curricular practices and examine the potential of using Canadian literature to enhance students’ understanding of historical marginalizations and structural inequalities. In conclusion, we discuss the implications of our research for pre-service and in-service educators who face the challenges of teaching in increasingly diverse schools.
Like Doecke and Breen, my aim in this essay, which is a response to their contribution, is not to weigh up the merits or otherwise of genre theory. Rather, it takes issue with the notion that the hegemony of genre theory is somehow ‘harmful’ with regards to language education and that genre theorists take no account of localized classroom cultures and practices. After an initial discussion on hegemony and hegemonic practices, I go on to illustrate genre theory in practice through a case study of one inner-city school in Birmingham, UK. I describe how teachers involved in a pilot project with a Year 8 (12–13-year-olds) class in history, English and science, and a Year 7 class in history, draw upon genre theory and associated pedagogic practices. I show that far from being ‘harmful’, or incongruent with localized classroom practices, such an approach to literacy can not only enthuse pupils to learn but also helps them to access the discourse practices associated with the academic literacy so many of us take for granted.
This article examines two comic book adaptations of Shakespeare’s Hamlet produced for teenage readers and used in school classrooms. It seeks to understand the ways in which particular kinds of literacy are being implied and constructed through the textual practice of multimodal adaptation. It presents a close reading of sections of the texts and places them within the framework of multimodal theory and adaptation studies. The paper is part of a larger study of comic book adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays based on a series of semi-structured interviews with the producers (publishers, artists, textual editors) involved in the adaptation process. The data are analysed in order to raise questions concerning the assumptions about literacy inherent in educational texts, and to outline the importance of further qualitative research in the area.
In teaching young adult literature in a teacher education programme at the undergraduate level, I pose the question of how I can best introduce my personal theoretical stances into the formal curriculum and syllabi, without unintentionally conveying such theories to my students as necessary postures. I first outline the theoretical underpinnings that inform my own work: which include psychoanalytic theory, ideas of fantasy and loss in reading experience, the concept of adolescence as a psychic and cultural relation, and the dynamics of forgetting in teacher education. In theorizing part of the process of learning to teach as the productive activation of a person’s internal archive, I then describe the methodological choices I made while constructing my course in young adult literature, where, in reference to Lynda Barry’s One Hundred Demons, my students consider the ways to best approach their own adolescent ‘demons’.
What are possible overlaps between arts practice and school pedagogy? How is teacher subjectivity and pedagogy affected when teachers engage with arts practice, in particular, theatre practices? We draw on research conducted into the Learning Performance Network (LPN), a project that involved school teachers working with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the University of Warwick. The aim of the commissioned research was to look at the effects on teacher development, focusing on the active rehearsal room pedagogic techniques and ensemble methods of exploring Shakespearean text and performance. The practices of working as an ensemble through rehearsal room pedagogy were central to the LPN. Our interest is in looking for possible shifts in teachers’ subjectivity, their self-perception. What affordances, limitations, accommodations and tensions are experienced by the teachers in transposing work from the rehearsal room to the classroom? We draw on a range of cultural theories that provide complementary perspectives on aspects of subjectivity; these include Vygotskian approaches to the psychology of art and acting. Raymond Williams’s work on the ‘dramatized society’ and Jacques Rancière’s work on spectatorship and pedagogy. Data in the form of excerpts from field notes, taken in an introductory workshop where teachers worked with theatre practitioners, and from transcribed interviews with participants in the project are used to provide evidence of shifts in perspective, self-perception and pedagogic practice.
This investigation addresses the complex issue of teachers’ subject knowledge. Specifically it focuses on the teaching of secondary school English; however, the principles it suggests apply more widely. Drawing on the experiences of trainee English teachers undertaking full-time and flexible PGCE courses during both their university- and school-based training, it explores the subject knowledge models of Banks, Leach & Moon and of Grossman, Wilson & Shulman, delineating how these can be used as a foundation on which beginning teachers can build their own personal deliverable models of subject.
In the course of an initiative to provide higher education to adults in prison, incarcerated men enrolled in an undergraduate degree programme were offered the opportunity to participate in a series of writing workshops. This article examines the products of these workshops, specifically the ways that language chosen by the writers serves as a tool in the process of identity construction and expression. Choices made in discourse, shown to be deliberate, demonstrate the men’s awareness of relationships between language, identity and power, as well as testifying to the significance of these connections for writers.
John Yandell’s The Social Construction of Meaning: Reading Literature in Urban Classrooms provides a powerful counterpoint to current policy discourse in education. By focusing on the social interactions that occur in the classrooms of two English teachers, Yandell shows how their pupils are able to explore dimensions of language and experience that far exceed the outcomes prescribed by official curriculum documents. This is because their teachers conceive of reading as a social activity in which everyone can participate. Yandell thereby affirms the value of a literary education as an integral part of an educational project that is genuinely democratic and inclusive.
It would be impossible to preface what follows with one of those ‘disclaimers’ that insist ‘the views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of…’ This would not only be disingenuous, it would deny the history that I draw on to make an argument about teaching, learning and research. Twenty-five years ago I came to the Institute of Education to do an MA in Language and Literature. My tutors were Jane Miller and Tony Burgess. Since 1989 I have been working at the Institute as a member of what used to be called the English department, largely as a PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) and MA tutor. My ideas about classrooms as places where creativity and cultural making are defining characteristics have grown out of my work here, the time I’ve spent in classrooms and working with trainee teachers and MA students. As important have been the conversations I have had with colleagues in the Institute and the writing I’ve done with them. This history has its roots in the work of James Britton and Harold Rosen and their insistence that we have no choice but to ‘begin from where the children are’ (Britton, J. [19701.
Britton, J.  1975. Language and Learning. Harmondsworth: Penguin.View all references] 19751.
Britton, J.  1975. Language and Learning. Harmondsworth: Penguin.View all references. Language and Learning. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 134), to see the linguistic and cultural resources that pupils bring with them to the classroom as the foundation for learning. John Yandell’s work is part of this history, particularly his many studies of the ways in which students illuminate and make sense of the literature they encounter in the classroom. ‘The text, the classroom and the world outside’ is the sub-heading of Chapter 6 of his book The Social Construction of Meaning: Reading Literature in Urban English Classrooms (Yandell, J. 20138.
Yandell, J. 2013. The Social Construction of Meaning: Reading Literature in Urban English Classrooms. Abingdon: Routledge.View all references. The Social Construction of Meaning: Reading Literature in Urban English Classrooms. Abingdon: Routledge.) and it signals a clear link between John’s work and the Bullock Report of 1975, with its insistence that no child should be expected to ‘cast off the language and culture of the home as he crosses the school threshold, nor to live and act as though school and home represented two totally different cultures which have to be kept firmly apart’ (Bullock, A. (Chairman). 19752.
Bullock, A. (Chairman). 1975. A Language for Life. The Bullock Report: HMSO.View all references. A Language for Life. The Bullock Report. HMSO, 286).
It would seem to be axiomatic that primary teachers are experts in children’s literature and its potential for teaching, but such knowledge is far from consistent across the profession. The article analyses why this is so, offering an historical overview and discussion of how English education policy, over time, separated the teaching of reading from the reading of literature and the resulting impact on teachers’ knowledge and use of children’s texts in the primary classroom.
In this essay I explore the tensions between the static nature of standardised assessment and the dynamic student-focussed approach to appreciating literature that I value. I have closely analysed two of a series of lessons on the gothic literary genre taught by a student teacher on her first placement. By reflecting critically on my own journey as a teacher and by drawing on the recent debate surrounding the inculcation of genre theory in the curriculum, this essay aims to explore the way that such standard-based reforms can shape and mould the topic.
The article traces some lines of connection between teachers' efforts to reshape the way that teaching and learning are done in local settings, and larger-scale shifts and tensions in education policy. The article begins with an account of opposition to the changes that European governments inspired by global policy orthodoxy seek to make in their education systems. It suggests that the intellectual and political resources that supply such opposition were accumulated in most cases in the immediate post-war period, and replenished in the social conflicts of the 1960s and 1970s. It raises the possibility that these resources are now - save in a largely nostalgic sense - exhausted, and cannot contribute to a remaking of education systems. This notion is tested by exploring the ideas and practices of teachers who, working under the banner of 'creativity', are attempting to break away from the standards agenda that they have inherited. In doing so, the article suggests, they may find themselves drawing from social, democratic traditions of education, developed not just in England, but elsewhere in Europe; educational internationalism is not the sole property of policy elites.
This essay draws attention to the shifting constructions of nationally famous role models for English learners. It examines how three individuals rose to national prominence because of their association with the craze for learning English in China in the last three decades. This essay compares the constructed images of these individuals and interprets the differences in them with reference to Chinese society’s individualisation process. The differences observed in the comparison reflect the evolution of Chinese society’s individualisation from a process managed and monitored by the political establishment to one contested by individuals.
In this paper I report on a small scale teaching project indicated by the general title above. The overall aim of the project has been to investigate and if possible enhance pupils' understanding and experience of two key areas of contemporary educational concern - literacy and citizenship - through a creative intercultural perspective. The teaching and research seek to suggest both connections and contrasts, starting from a critical cultural awareness of the 'familiar' and from there reaching outwards - although the movement is by no means in this direction only. The project has notions of literacy and citizenship at its very core: literacy as broadly covering our ways of appreciating ourselves and our world through language; citizenship as suggestive of the ways of thinking, feeling and behaving which may result from (and in turn determine) our understanding.
Reacting to incoherent English teaching in the 1930s, Percival Gurrey probed the psychological processes involved in literary appreciation. He sought ways of teaching poetry that avoided lifeless tasks such as labelling ‘poetic devices’. Later, in the 1950s, he wrote about the processes involved in learning to write. At a time when psychology dominated educational discourse, he was in touch with new developments in both literary criticism and linguistics, and he evolved a bridging theory of language, learning and development that spanned philosophy, psychology and literary theory. I connect Gurrey’s sense of wholeness of response to his reading in Coleridge. By returning to debates surrounding Coleridge I show how a new appreciation of what language accomplishes emerged. Gurrey discovered that writing has a central place in children’s development as a whole. From such hard-won discoveries a unified theory of development in talking, reading and writing duly emerged.
Literacy classrooms are places of tension in the shaping of literate identities for Black male students because of classroom and cultural mismatch, racialized literacy beliefs and deficit views of Black male literacy achievement. However, research on connections between students’ out-of-school literacy and academic literacy participation tells a strikingly contrasting story because efforts are made to connect literacy to the lived experiences, popular culture, and the personal literacy development of students to what happens in the classroom. Understanding the roles of literacy and space – specifically how Black male youth navigate, contend with, and participate in these spaces – is integral to transforming literacy learning and development for Black male youth within school walls. This paper uses Foucault’s theory of other spaces in order to examine one boy’s discovery of four edge-of-school spaces – spaces that he discovered for meaningful literacy engagement.
This essay explores the problematic nature of an enforced monolingual culture promoted by the current Conservative-led UK government. It comments upon the paradoxical nature of the 2014 curriculum that promotes heritage texts and ‘proper’ English, when such poets embraced a Bakhtinian tolerance of languages. It focuses primarily upon the social relationships fostered with a Year 10 class by a new teacher within the English department in North London school. It questions the rejection of the Bullock Report and explores the importance of culture and linguistic interjections in pupils’ negotiation of meaning in and outside the classroom.
For more than 20 years, Gunther Kress has made a powerful contribution to the debate about the English curriculum. The National Literacy Strategy represents an official endorsement of his ideas, particularly concerning the explicit teaching of 'non-fictional' genres. In this sense, Kress's work exerts a significant influence upon the pedagogy and practice of the contemporary English classroom. Interestingly, however, research suggests that many practitioners still feel committed to earlier, deep-rooted traditions which place personal engagement with literature at the heart of the English curriculum—a theoretical position which Kress has done much to critique.
Chipping away at layers of nostalgia solidified by time, distance and the compromises of adulthood, my memories of school life in Bombay come back, fleeting and episodic at times, but increasingly clear and not particularly benign. What I recreate here is therefore not meant to be representative of every Indian educational encounter. On the contrary, the educational experiences of rich and poor, rural and urban children in India are so vastly different that to claim to talk about them all would be folly. However, in the course of this past decade I have interviewed young people in Bombay who are at school now, as I write, and some who were at school during the 1980s and 1990s. I found that my recollections, of secondary school in particular, were both comfortingly and alarmingly familiar to all of them. So, although the perspective and inflection is mine, some of this account is not simply my individual story either. It is probably similar to the experience of several hundred million lower-middle-class school students of this generation in urban India.
This paper explores issues arising from a detailed study of the experiences of students, teachers and lecturers in managing the transition from school to university in the study of English. It outlines some key philosophical perspectives derived from Pierre Bourdieu and considers the extent to which it is possible to apply notions of ‘habitus’ and ‘reproduction’ to the study of English at A level and at university. Through the consideration of these philosophical issues, this paper offers an insight into students’ experiences of transition and some of the difficulties they face as they become accustomed to the new learning environment of the higher education institution.
It is a contemporary commonplace that we live in a ‘text-saturated’ environment – a semiosphere that complements those biologically rooted spheres our bodies inhabit. The neon cityscape of Tokyo in the movie, Lost in Translation, might be thought of as a metaphor for this semiosphere, this universe of signs which regularly coalesce in clusters of meaning that some people call discourses. To extend the metaphor, you could say that we both inhale and exhale discourse, and that discourse is changed in the ‘breathing’ process. The individual is both agent and subscriber to whatever ‘truths’ are generated in his/her ongoing engagement with the semiosphere.
This article focuses on a tablet film-making project involving a group of English and Drama student teachers, their university tutors and a class of boys in a South London school. We reflect on the potential for learning about aspects of the curriculum that emerged from the technology we were using and the approach that we took. We explore how the pupils responded to the process, developing their interpretations of a pre-twentieth century text with originality and creativity while drawing on their knowledge of wider culture. We analyse how the spontaneous and improvisational approach is facilitated by a structured stimulus and degree of prescription about the task. Our focus is on the features of tablet film-making that are prompted by the cultural location of the technology in the lives of young people. The ways that the students drew on the unexpected inspiration of their immediate context emerged as salient because they were able to view and evaluate their work throughout the process of making it. This offered a visual frame of reference (often overlooked in schools) that seemed to be key to the students’ engagement and learning, suggestive of Berger’s claim that ‘we never look just at one thing; we are always looking at the relation between things and ourselves’ (Berger, J. 1972. Ways of Seeing London: British Broadcasting Corporation and Penguin, 9).
This paper analyses the way English grammar is described in Grammar for reading (DfES, 200322.
DfES 2003a Grammar for Reading: course handbook London DfES View all referencesa, 200323.
DfES 2003b Grammar for Reading: course tutors' notes London DfES View all referencesb) and the pedagogy that underpins the document. The following features are considered: the accuracy of the grammatical description and its evidence base, the meaning of Grammar for reading, and the evidence presented in support of this approach. While the description of English grammar at the beginning of each module is accurate and potentially helpful, the grammatical observations accompanying texts and activities are often vague and misleading. Furthermore, the value of Grammar for reading's reductive approach to engaging with texts is called into question.
This article has no direct link with academics, children, students or those who teach: I severed almost all such connections several years ago. It describes the rewards and challenges of leading a reminiscence group of elderly people, all of whom suffer some level of memory loss and/or severe physical disability; most are wheelchair-bound. It contains examples of their autobiographical talk which I recorded separately from group meetings and transcribed, exclusively for the satisfaction of each individual concerned. Ours is not a society which cherishes its aged members. What becomes of their identity? Who are they now? They are, of course, people – as interesting as those in our classrooms. They too need to know their own worth.
My discussion embraces the subjective qualities of the psychoanalytic clinical case study as a method for writing narratives of pedagogy dedicated to interpreting the latency of communication: what has been held back, forgotten, acted out and unconsciously repeated. At the heart of the case study is the literary dilemma of putting to words the transference, thought here as the unconscious desire for the other’s knowledge, authority and love. Of special interest is a narrative conundrum both educators and psychoanalysts share when trying to depict the felt qualities of their work: a great deal is experienced before anything can be known while learning from intersubjective acts is of a different order from anticipation of how things should proceed. The difficulty is that the nature of knowledge exchanged in either psychoanalysis or education may also carry a failure of symbolization, founded in a subjective gap within human relations and repeated in language. Here is where we meet the latency of communication and the question of education as human condition.
Attempting to push early modern presentism to the radical, logical conclusion of a more personal historicism, this essay draws on a number of interpretive practices and theoretical insights – Stephen Greenblatt’s self-reflectivity, Toni Morrison’s ‘rememory’, Marianne Hirsch’s ‘postmemory’, bell hooks’s ‘passion of experience’, and Linda Charnes’s alternative historicism – to establish the ethical and interpretive significance of my own painful situatedness as an African American man in Renaissance/Early Modern studies. Specifically, I illustrate that significance in a reading of Richard Mulcaster’s Positions Concerning the Bringing Up of Children, a sixteenth-century educational treatise that responds, as I argue, to early modern educational access and social mobility with an insidiously complex, exclusionary admissions policy.
A touchstone is a smooth dark stone that, when rubbed against gold and silver, proves the metal's quality. Figuratively, it has come to signify ‘that which serves to test or try the genuineness of anything' ( Oxford English Dictionary ). Here I consider why certain literary ‘touchstones' of teachers are more formative than others. This leads to an exploration of the close association between the aesthetics of literary response and the sprezzatura of childhood reading. The pedagogical question of involving teachers and teacher educators in critical reflection on their practices should begin with these formative stories.
Ralph Waldo Emerson’s first essay, Nature, has been viewed as a reconciliation of the world of nature with the world of mind. A close analysis shows that Emerson was in fact attempting to come to terms with human fragility in a unique way by delineating the point at which the worldly and the transcendental are demarcated. Because nature as we normally apprehend it merely displays a physical remainder, an alternative way of coping with grief is to change the very way we apprehend nature itself. Moreover, the way forward is not merely to change our perceptions, but truly to conform ourselves with the natural workings of the universe in a manner that has been forgotten, obliterated or never even previously conceived. In short, Nature can be reconsidered as an early example of the biological sublime.
Over the past 15 years, there has been a range of standards-driven educational interventions in England: focused particularly on students’ writing, they have been targeted at particular students, short-term and based on the assumption that identifiable, quantifiable inputs would produce pre-identified, measurable outputs. This article explores one such intervention, aimed at students in Year 13 who were seen as having difficulty with academic writing. It looks closely at the work of one student, and raises questions about the effects of high-stakes testing upon pedagogy in schools and the damaging impact that this has upon student learning.
The author has undertaken a narrative inquiry that explores the political and cultural positioning of drama education in the English secondary school. The inquiry also serves as both an experiment in and an argument for the relevance of a storying methodology in educational research. The reader is encouraged through the employment of particular expressionistic features, borrowed from the poetic mode, to enter into reflective conversation with the text. This, the author argues, is an approach to research that not only compliments drama pedagogy through its shared values, but that can be regarded as a continuance or widening of the reflexive conversation that begins in the drama classroom.
This article investigates the difficulties faced by trainee English teachers when they teach writing. As newcomers to the profession, they are trying to understand the processes involved in becoming a writer. At the same time, they are asked to focus on the forms and features of different kinds of writing as a way to meet 'writing objectives' laid down in a number of curriculum documents. When the student teachers do approach writing as a process, they sometimes see it as a process of progressively acquiring discrete skills, such as 'writing descriptions' or 'using complex sentences'. The experiences of five trainees are examined with a view to understanding how their subject knowledge about writing might be developed by those working with them, in universities and in schools.
This article discusses the new specification for English Advanced Subsidiary and Advanced Level Examinations and what is new about it. It considers the way the examination has been developed in the past, the purposes of the examination, its relation to the National Curriculum, to GCSE and university courses and its usefulness as an assessment tool.
In this article, I present a thought experiment highlighting some lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic for language education. I focus on two characteristics of the pandemic and the English language teaching (ELT) industry. First, during the pandemic, humans appeared to grapple with the ancient problem of killer viruses, with modern medicine initially offering little beyond basic advice; and ELT seems to deal with old problems like teaching vocabulary with little real progress in decades. Second, Asia was the epicenter of COVID-19 that later spread worldwide and caused social consequences in addition to health disasters; and the history of English as an additional language started in Asia before spreading to other places and creating sociocultural challenges. Departing from this tentative analogy, I argue that traditional ELT theory and research trends need to be revisited, and sociopolitical concerns should be considered as crucial aspects of the essence of ELT.
The English classroom is an indispensable site to critically engage the social complexity of the climate crisis and COVID-19. A question comes up, however, about how to plan for such critical engagement when teaching canonical literature that is seemingly removed from the specific concerns of the current moment. The focus of this article is on planning with canonical works to meet the current moment. Using Macbeth as a focal text, I offer a seven-step heuristic for generating lesson plan ideas that critically engage the social complexity of the climate crisis and COVID-19. The heuristic is based on juxtaposition, defined as a literary interpretive stance that opens space for readers to make creative leaps between old texts and new contexts.
Across the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching effects on many aspects of our everyday lives. Changes have also been apparent in the field of teaching since most teaching now has to be carried out online. Despite its drawbacks, this forced change to online instruction and learning has helped me reflect on my teaching. Based on my experience teaching literature at a university in Hong Kong, this article aims to highlight the lessons learned from the transformation caused by the pandemic.
What happens when, in a nation under lockdown, teaching moves online? How is English as a school subject being differently configured? What are the gains and losses? This essay examines, through the prism of a single online lesson, the approach to English, to curriculum and pedagogy, that has been adopted by the Oak National Academy website, a repository of online lessons that has been sponsored by the Department for Education in England. It offers a highly prescriptive, monologic approach to English, an approach that is structured around the pedagogy of ‘direct instruction’ and the demands of high-stakes assessment.