This week at school we mostly been working our way through ICT competency tests... yes, just like when you were 12 and doing your Key Stage 3's. A lot of the content is the same as well: PowerPoint, Excel, all the greatest hits are there. At least it's a bit warmer than LT1 (which isn't. At all. Ever.) Oh what fun we are having... it's all based around Intel Teach To The Future which I suppose is actually a great intiative. But it's mindnumbing if you've a shred of understanding already. I think it's mindnumbing for most others too... except that one poor girl who just does not get it...
The cornerstone of the Department of Education's tech rollout for schools is LearningNI, a ridculously secure online portal designed to link every single teacher in the country across a central network: resources, discussions, shared objectives, planning, networking, whatever you want. Brilliant concept. But like C2k in schools (which was so secure that it took at least 5 minutes to convince the system you actually wanted to install Super Mario on it rather than trawl it's approved content) in practice, it's a bit of a nightmare. In a couple of years, they tell us, it will rock. I'm pretty sure they told my old mum that when she did the PGCE course too - though to be fair, that was only a couple of years ago...
Otherwise, the only other task this week has been working on a subject-specific presentation, in our case a 20th-21st Century poet of choice. That's it. No outline or anything, just 'tell us about...'. Anyway, plumped for TS Eliot because as someone who didn't do A Level or degree English, and therefore is still scarred by ****ing Wilfred Owen (just wrote my first worksheet about him, the irony). You know, TS Eliot who wrote about the Cats, and then that bloke Andrew Lloyd Webber bastardised it all and let Elaine Paige wail it out in the West End... he actually did a lot of other rather wonderful things too, but it's poetry he got the Nobel Prize for (in 1948... see, I know stuff already!)
Very very cool bits of TS Eliot include Willem Dafoe reading a bit from Four Quartets or Eliot himself doing his groundbreaking Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock (often found online mashed up over a Portishead track, google that one.)
Eliot also accounts for 5 out of the 100 of the BBC's Nation's Favourite Poems...
...now here's a book you should look through. Don't buy it - thanks to copyright expiration you can get most of them online anyway - but browse it if you see it. (Help! I'm turning into an enthusiastic English student!) And pause a moment to think about this...
Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
If quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
I almost don't hate poetry. Just teaching it.