Pictorial blethers

By blethers

Alive for evermore?

Don't take the photo above too seriously - I wasn't really contemplating mortality, nor even immortality when I took it, merely delighting in the carpet of snowdrops still gracing the churchyard, and the lovely old moss-covered gravestone from 1865. Tonight, mind you, I feel tired enough to sleep forever - it's been a day so filled with activity that it could almost have been normal.

It began most inauspiciously after a poor night's sleep - one of those nights when you put your book down, eyelids drooping, and ping into wakefulness with the first realisation that somehow your pillow isn't fitting your neck and the bed has developed rocks in the middle. However, I had Pilates at 10 as usual, which helped with the sore neck but not the general exhaustion. I had a lovely impromptu FaceTime conversation with fellow-blipper Elspeth; I did some preparation of a poem I was about to teach. I had lunch.

My pal came round with some peppercorns I'd asked her to get and we had a real old-lady walk round town, along the West Bay prom and round the back of town via Holy Trinity's churchyard, where I took the photo. Then I had an hour on zoom tutoring the son of a friend in English, specifically the writing of a decent critical essay. The hour flew past; I think he found it helpful and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. But now I'm going to have a wee rant...

In my day, I don't think any of us in the English department gave out printed notes on pieces of literature for pupils to study. We taught the texts, and the pupils made their own notes. This is certainly what I did: I regard it as an essential skill for any future education to be able to listen at the same time as noting down salient points. I also regarded it as my primary function to teach a piece of literature in such a way as to open it up and make it accessible to everyone, so that notes were only aides-memoire and nothing else. It would seem that nowadays there are notes online for every conceivable text that might turn up in the curriculum, and that teachers have got into the habit of downloading them, printing them off in bulk and distributing them. I'm appalled. Sharing insights into poetry gave me the greatest enjoyment in my career, and ensuring that my pupils knew how rather than just what  was my aim in everything I did. I don't know who coined that absurd expression Curriculum for Excellence; even less do I know quite what they had in mind. Excellence this is not.

There. Rant over. How cathartic. I shall go off to bed now, and I shall probably sleep because I've offloaded to such patient blippers as have stayed with me.

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