Friday, 20 March 2015

Eclipsed by Literature

Several quotations posted prior to witnessing the eclipse on this day, 20 March 2015, Smethwick, Birmigham, UK.

"The sonne and mone eclipsen both."
J. Gower, Confessio Amantis, 1393.

"The Night-Hag .. comes dance With Lapland Witches, while the labouring Moon Eclipses at thir charms"
Milton, Paradise Lost Book 2, 666

"God oftentimes leaves the brightest men in an eclipse."
Thomas Fuller, The Holy State, 1642

"Blind among enemies ... Irrecoverably dark, total Eclipse."
John Milton, Samson Agonistes, 1671

" Þis eclipse . þat ouer-closeþ now þe sonne. "
William Langland, Piers Plowman, 1393

"These late eclipses in the Sunne and Moone portend no good to us."
Shakespeare, King Lear, 1608

Thy beams, so reverend and strong
        Why shoulds't thou think?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
John Donne, The Sunne Rising

The Sun Rising

        Busy old fool, unruly Sun,
        Why dost thou thus,
Through windows and through curtains call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run?
        Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
        Late schoolboys and sour 'prentices,
    Go tell court huntsmen that the King will ride,
    Call country ants to harvest offices;
Love, all alike, no season knows, nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

        Thy beams, so reverend and strong
        Why shoulds't thou think?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long;
        If her eyes have not blinded thine,
        Look, and tomorrow late, tell me,
    Whether both th'Indias of spice and mine
    Be where thou left'st them, or lie here with me?
Ask for those kings whom thou saw'st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, 'All here in one bed lay.'

        She's all states, and all princes, I;
        Nothing else is.
Princes do but play us; compared to this,
All honour's mimic, all wealth alchemy.
        Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we,
        In that the world's contracted thus;
    Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
    To warm the world, that's done in warming us.
Shine here, to us, and thou art everywhere;
This bed thy centre is, these walls, thy sphere.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Poststructuralism and Drama in Education

'Poststructuralism' is a bewildering combination of theoretical projects and their applications. At best I shall be contending that elements of the poststructuralist approach afford the possibility of an open and balanced approach to the twin dynamics of criticism and creativity; poststructuralism folds one into the other. Underpinning my 'methodology' is the sense that both criticism and creativity are required in the shifting process of performance and that they are inseparable as the twin strands of participatory drama. Moreover, a poststructuralist approach serves to interrogate all conventional binaries such as teaching/learning, or acting/observing.

More than just turning them upside-down, or reversing them, a poststructuralist would uncover the trace, play, or spectre, of one inside the other. Accordingly, poststructuralism employs an exhilarating rigour to critical and creative work that involves individual and group, word and world. The primary obsession of poststructuralism is a disproportionate scrutiny of the process of (non)-signification.....

Compared to structuralist approaches which generate a systematic and stable approach to making/reading meanings, poststructuralism promises less, but performs more. Rather than a system of meaning, a poststructuralist favours singularities of expression that undermine 'system' by questioning its schematic temperament. Any short definition is prone to simplification, and the whole project is in fact preoccupied by the elusiveness of 'tangible' or fixed meanings. As a result, acquaintance with poststructuralism may be frustrating (what do we do with it?) or excessively empowering and abundant (does it apply to everything?) Poststructuralism both exceeds and falls short of any methodology that attempts to structure it. Its starting point is an obsession with 'destabilising definitions and distinctions.'

The research station transactions and encounters out of which this chapter emerges were therefore closely hinged to the prescribed keynote theme of the IDIERI 2003 conference 'destabilising definitions and distinctions'..... Poststructuralist methodology is not a reductive set of procedures to be committed to memory, translated, and applied to multiple contexts. Rather it attaches itself to the singularity of any dramatic moment's educational component, in its moment of unfolding.

Poststructuralism deploys an elusive alchemy in always moving beyond that moment as something that can be re-presented on demand. The alchemist is an early chemist whose experiments cannot be repeated with identical results each time they are attempted. For performance, as for poststructuralism, there is no step-by-step rulebook for success. These statements are rather precautionary and frustrating, primarily because they leave so much open to critical performances as processes that cannot be translated into quantifiable measures of success or failure. Rather than aiming for closed outcomes in our experience of drama, poststructuralism approaches 're-presentation' as shifting, tactical and incomplete.

The aim is a super-consciousness of how performance effects or 'makes present' ideas, events, beliefs and intuitions. (It is also attached to the failure or inability to 'make present' – an 'other' learning opportunity that has been silenced.) ....

Further information:

See Ian McCormick, “Poststructuralist Performances” in Research Methodologies for Drama Education, ed. Judith Ackroyd

Sunday, 8 March 2015

To -ise or not to -ize

Gielgud as Hamlet
People have become very grumpy about the use of -ize.

We always spell several common words as follows:

advertise, advise, arise, chastise, circumcise, compromise, despise, devise, disenfranchise, enterprise, excise, exercise, franchise, improvise, incise, merchandise, revise, supervise, surmise, surprise, televise.

It is not true that -ize reveals an American usage, as it has been frequently used in British English for centuries.

Those who want to be super-pedantic claim that -ize should be selected in cases where the classical Greek verb deployed the -izo ending.

As far back as the thirteenth century we find examples of usages such as baptize.

My preference is to use -ize. What's yours?

 Dr Ian McCormick is the author of The Art of Connection: the Social Life of Sentences and 11+ English   

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

11+ English: Transition from Primary to Secondary School

This stimulating guide to Year 5/6 and 11+ English provides an excellent resource for children making the transition from primary to secondary school. 11+ English offers helpful and clear guidance for tutors and parents.

The six test papers use multiple choice questions to ensure that a student’s answers can be marked efficiently and academic progress can be monitored effectively.

Year 5/6 11+ English benefits from the following features:

- 300 multiple choices questions

- An introduction to communication skills for parents and tutors

- How to improve reading and comprehension skills

- Key skills for success in English comprehension tests

- The critical and creative training zone

- Pathways to success

- Six English Tests examine comprehension and grammar

- 52 Creative writing activities

- A Glossary / 62 Key terms explained

Available on Amazon.

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