Blog2020-07-15T11:13:15+01:00

Echo reading: Building a bridge between text and meaning

As a student I was one of those kids who was desperate to be picked to read. When we studied Romeo and Juliet I got to read Mercutio, a part, I felt, I was born for.  I threw myself into it and felt I really connected with both the character and the play. This was obviously how to do things. Fast forward to my PGCE. For the first weeks of [...]

By |June 22nd, 2021|Categories: reading|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Schools and the Tyranny of Merit

One of the books I read last year that has most stayed with me is Michael Sandel's The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good? In it, Sandel argues that meritocracy is inherently harmful to society and has brought about the huge divides in politics across the western world we've witnessed in recent years. The divide between 'winner's and 'losers' gets ever deeper and, while Sandel acknowledges that [...]

By |May 27th, 2021|Categories: leadership|Tags: , |2 Comments

The problem with ‘it makes the reader want to read on’

One of the most common and irritating of responses to be found strewn through students' literary or linguistic analysis is that a writer will have a made of particular choice in order to 'make the reader want to read on.' So far as I know, no English teacher has ever advised their students to use this phrase and, in fact, a great many explicitly forbid its use. From where, we [...]

By |May 23rd, 2021|Categories: English, writing|2 Comments

A reading curriculum: Gap-widening vs gap-narrowing

The idea that education acts as a Matthew Effect that disproportionately benefits those who start with most is an uncomfortable but well-understood phenomenon. Everything we do in schools either widens the advantage gap between the most privileged and least privileged students, or narrows it. This is, I think, a real dichotomy: anything that, on balance, appears net neutral is in fact acting to keep the gap a yawning chasm of [...]

By |March 21st, 2021|Categories: Featured|2 Comments

How should writing fit into the English curriculum?

I think like many English teachers I've long been conflicted about the position of writing in the curriculum. On the one hand, of course writing is central to students' experience of studying English. Not only should we aim to make them technically proficient, but we should explicitly teach them how to master a range of written styles and genres. But, on the other hand, writing units are turgid. Although I [...]

By |March 3rd, 2021|Categories: Featured|5 Comments

Making Meaning in English: An exploration of the role of knowledge in language and literature

I'm pleased to announce that Making Meaning in English is available now. (Quote MME20 for a 20% discount) The book is a discussion on the role of English as a school subject: What is it for? How has it been shaped? What’s been done in the past? What’s gone wrong and what’s been successful? It particularly examines what knowledge means in English. Clearly the approaches to acquiring knowledge that work [...]

By |February 9th, 2021|Categories: English|Tags: |0 Comments

Reforming GCSE English literature and language

Seeing as all sorts of folks have decided now is a good time to try to get rid of (or at least, reform) GCSEs, I thought I'd offer up my opinions. I should start by saying that, on the whole, I'm in favour of retaining exams. If the last two years have taught us anything it's that for all their problems (and despite all the noisy rhetoric to the contrary) [...]

By |February 8th, 2021|Categories: Featured|9 Comments

Making Meaning in English: Book launch

My new book, Making Meaning in English - the final fruits of the burst of productivity I enjoyed during the first phase of lock down - will be available for your delight and edification on 10th February. It is (although you may feel this is a low bar) the best thing I've written. So much so that I'm reluctant to forego the opportunity to mark its entry into the world [...]

By |January 31st, 2021|Categories: Featured|3 Comments

Educational dog whistles (and how not to blow them)

As in every sphere, there are certain phrases or topics that act a dog whistle in education. When people use terms like 'progressive,' 'knowledge-rich,' 'no excuses,' 'deep dive,' or 'fronted adverbial' they are  tapping into a groundswell of - usually negative - opinion which stirs up like minded folk into predictable paroxysms of fury and outrage. What happens is, I think, something like this: for some people 'fronted adverbial' stands [...]

By |January 21st, 2021|Categories: Featured|Tags: |6 Comments

Using grammar to make meaning

As a writer I know that I must select studiously the nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, etcetera, and by a careful syntactical arrangement make readers laugh, reflect or riot. Maya Angelou, Conversations with Maya Angelou Every human culture has developed a spoken language and, by inference, a system of grammar. No one ever sits us down and teaches us how to speak, we just soak it up from our environment. All [...]

By |January 19th, 2021|Categories: English, writing|Tags: , |0 Comments

The best 3 sentences in education?

I slide I used in a presentation on the ideas in my book, Making Kids Cleverer has been getting a bit of love on Twitter, with New Zealand school principal referring to it as containing what might be "the three best sentences in education". This could be the three best sentences in education. Thanks ⁦@DavidDidau⁩ pic.twitter.com/cXn37GTeZG — John Young (@JohnYoung18) December 9, 2020 Apart from the missing apostrophe in the [...]

By |December 10th, 2020|Categories: Featured|Tags: |11 Comments

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