Search results for "ian whitwham"


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At the chalkface: Carry On Culture Wars

6 September 2021

What’s next? The stocks? The guillotine? Cotton-picking? This may play well in the shires, but surely not on most of the country. And certainly not with our pupils. The young don’t buy it – they ...

At the chalkface: Capitalism in the classroom

27 October 2020

No good teacher ever preaches, especially English teachers. We deal in ambiguity, complexity, beauty, not brute certainty – in some kind of truth. But these days, as Gramsci said, “to tell the truth ...

At the chalkface: Poetry is not an option

2 September 2020

This initiative is bone-stupid, philistine, condescending, insulting. Who are these “respondents”, these blockheads, who wouldn’t know a poem if it bit them in the bum? Ian Whitwham on Ofqual's plan ...

At the chalkface: It’s what teachers do

15 June 2020

'There was a ship!!!' – I’d shriek in a borderline psychotic voice, somewhere between full tilt Johnny Rotten and Laurence Olivier’s Richard III. I scared the tinies witless. Ian Whitwham on teaching ...

At the chalkface: The school photograph

5 March 2020

Hopefully there will always be some pupils who will resist this conformity. Even at my crusty old grammar school, there were always some wags who managed to sabotage things – like the enormous whole ...

At the chalkface: Welcome to Dom’s world

5 February 2020

Dominic Cummings is holding sway – and Mr Watermelon Piccaninny Letter Box has stormed it. Dear me, couldn’t we even beat this lot of chancers? Well, no.

At the chalkface: Get cultured, or else!

25 January 2020

There seemed to be only two cultures. High, White, posh and patrician. Good. And the rest. Bad. I was force-fed the former for years ‘til it came out of my ears

At the chalkface: Walk in fear and dread...

6 November 2019

Roxana wanders the Halloween night. She can’t avoid passing through an ill-lit subterranean car park. Boys in grey hoods on baby bikes – more ugly victims of the rancid public discourse – threaten ...

At the chalkface: Teach like nobody is watching!

9 October 2019

We must be trusted. We must be allowed to teach like nobody’s watching. Maybe we’ve reached some kind of tipping point, maybe there’s nothing more to lose – maybe we can reclaim our classrooms...

At the chalkface: Where language goes to die

1 July 2019

This once prince of subjects has been eviscerated. Creativity and critical thinking have been junked. Language is rarely subjected to ferocious and forensic examination. At what cost?

At the chalkface: ‘Go on sir, tell us a story!’

8 May 2019

Story-telling is just about the most important thing you can ever do in English. It cuts across class, language, culture and even literacy. Children always want to hear (or tell) a good story. They ...

At the chalkface: Certainties are toxic

20 March 2019

At first I took them on. Have you even read it? Why should we do what God says? When is obedience a good idea? Certainties are toxic. Complexities aren’t. We need doubt, we need humour. You burn ...

At the chalkface: Talking proper

13 March 2019

For girls it was marginally worse. Those with pushy parents went to something called a Lucy Clayton Finishing School. There they got finished. They practised enunciating “how now brown cow” with a ...

At the chalkface: A funny tinge

6 March 2019

He cites such things as “meaningless words”, “verbal false limbs”, “dying metaphors”, “exhausted idioms” and the sheer “lying”, consciously or not, of so much political speech

At the chalkface: Strike!

27 February 2019

The Cuban Missile Crisis. October 1962. We protested and refused to kick off in case the world was blown to smithereens. It wasn’t. Our protest might have been decisive.

At the chalkface: A Spell against Barbarism

6 February 2019

Like all grand daughters, she is raving genius. Like all four-year-olds she is a poet. It can’t be stopped. I hope it doesn’t get stopped when she starts school, that it’s not blocked by the dread ...

At the chalkface: How dare they…

30 January 2019

“I want everyone to see us as a force for improvement,” says Amanda Spielman. Hurrah! Though careful with the language, please, less of the “force”...

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