Crushed Stetson

Doorways are portals to dreams, but when they close
cut like a guillotine. Red flows, and lust is layered on
the floor as a metaphor – and this cherry ink too
chastises or caresses. There is too much love of these
imaginings, how the combing of wet hair is an
ablution for the ridding of sins, or grooming for an
illicit affair. Someone is walking and talking but they are
really the litotes in a semantic field of verbs, now as
past participles of secret authorial meanings rather than
words. There are times when we need to see beyond that
single sketched line of the hill, see the other landscapes
that hide within the fog and fear, but eyes are for opening
not drawing on. In a room where someone is preaching
better lessons are taught and learnt when chanced upon.

These initial posting are a benchmark for the types of sharing I will be doing on this new blog, and I have presented these four before putting it out there. Putting it out there to see if I can better my increasingly regular Facebook ducks [you will find threads throughout postings….]

You shouldn’t have to explain a poem but this one could be difficult without some context [and that’s a concern to have to admit]. Briefly, it was written in response to examining GCSE English Literature exam responses. Before I continue, I must stress that as an examiner I am every year essentially blown away with the overall high quality of student responses: informed, empathetic, articulate. Teachers have to take considerable credit for this.

However, there is still a vestige of the past the intrudes on some student answers – and this can be seen in whole class or even whole school responses – and it is where the Literacy Strategy and in particular its word level obsession still insinuates its control. It is when the language of the text is broken down constantly into linguistic references, as if this naming explains the nuances of an author’s writing style and intentions. It doesn’t.

As frustrating as I can find this as an examiner, let alone a reader, I always also sense the teacher’s panic in giving students such an overtly critical vocabulary, as if the correctness of the terms will impress and earn marks, marks needed to get grades to meet targets. Of course, some teachers will believe in the primacy of such analysis – sadly – but I think many feel the weight of that Strategy still with us, as if it did make sense. It didn’t.

You also get the schools who have picked up a waft of an idea and instill it in GCSE students like an absolute. So in the poem there is reference to the notion that at the end of An Inspector Calls the curtain comes down like a guillotine and this relates, politically, to the French Revolution. As for the multitude of messages in Slim combing his hair….

But then his self-barbering won’t be relevant in the future.

2 thoughts on “Crushed Stetson

  1. Yes, it is such a shame these Strategies continue to be an ever tightening noose(!) but of course unless there is an almighty paradigm shift on the part of the government, I can’t see things changing for the better. Sadly those at the top seem very reluctant to delve very deeply into what English teaching is really all about (especially whereLiterature is concerned), or at least to listen to those who can offer any kind of informed opinion. In addition, of course, much of what is exciting and brilliant about studying Literature is unquantifiable-at least in a numerical sense-therefore it matters little in an educational climate where if it can’t be measured in a specific way, it doesn’t count.
    I wholeheartedly support your ongoing campaign to bring back Literature in English-I still can not quite believe we are losing Steinbeck/ Lee et al. I will also continue (Even after 20 years of government meddling) to at least attempt to teach English from the heart-although I do feel I spend a lot of time compromising! Keep up the good work…

    Liked by 1 person

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