The blogging crusader that is David Mitchell @DeputyMitchell came up with a wonderful idea for the day that we are still only just about in in the UK, but being a global project there is time for plenty more posts yet. Here is my contribution:


Happy Quadrennium
I can’t remember what I was doing on February 29th four years ago, but thanks to this wonderful blogging project I’ll always be able to remember this one.

I teach English four days a week at a secondary school, and yesterday I remember walking into the staff room and thinking how lucky I am to be doing a rewarding job that I (mostly) enjoy, and to be living in probably the safest and most civilised period in human history in one of the most prosperous places on earth.

Really, I can’t believe my good fortune at times.

Then today, the special day of 29th February fell on my day off, so after a leisurely breakfast and a couple of espressos spent reading some of the earlier posts on this blog, I got changed into my cycling gear and set off on this ride: http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/71847190

Turning those pedals through the near-deserted South Yorkshire countryside it felt so good to be alive.

I know that many people don’t have the blessings in life that I’ve got, and that makes me all the more determined to enjoy mine, and to try and share them in whatever small ways I can.

And I thought THAT was the heart of darkness

While spring cleaning some old blogs today as part of an attempt to make my digital footprints less muddy, I came across some posts relating to a GCSE English group I had four years ago, and it heightened yet further my sense of being dispirited at the way my teaching is going under the Controlled Assessment regime (see here for some excellent discussion of this from David Didau (@LearningSpy) together with my depressed comment).

Here are some examples of blog posts with student discussion on Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’ that we were doing for coursework.

Into the Heart of Darkness

Through the Heart of Darkness

More Heart of Darkness

What’s in a Title?

I recall much more discussion and debate with the whole class than the online taster you can see there.  I know a top set, like the one I had back then, is a very different proposition from the set four classes I have now. Nevertheless I find it difficult to see a way that, even with the best students,  I could engender the depth of reflective thinking about and exploration of a text that most of these students were able to produce, now that our curriculum that currently requires us to romp through six CA’s in Year 10.

Is it even allowable to negotiate individual titles with students (within the broad parameters of the prescribed task banks) for CA, as I did with those students for their coursework?

(I’ll have to find out.