Mixed Messages

Much loved by footballers and football commentators alike, it’s good to see that the mixed metaphor is alive and well. I think the best example of the genre I have seen or heard for a long time is a quote in today’s news media from Tony Woodley, the joint secretary of Unite, the union involved in the dispute at the Grangemouth oil refinery. Laying the blame for industrial action firmly at the feet of the chief executive of Ineos, the owners of the plant, Mr Woodley warned, “The ball is in their hands, but if it falls on deaf ears, things could get prolonged or worse.” Indeed. Could be the best one ever. Or perhaps you know better.


The Graffiti Project

Thanks to Dan for the contribution to the graffiti debate (comments under Taking it Easy) and to Clarinda for drawing my attention to the amazing Kelburn Castle Graffiti Project which is well worth a visit, bringing together as it does hitherto disconnected cultures, urban and rural, traditional and modern. But does it work? Scotland meets Brazil – it’s not only on the football field that the end result is artistry!

Is it art or is it vandalism?


Managed to find a cafe in Bergamo with great coffee (not difficult) and a free internet connection (not so easy). We’ve had a great week so far, much of it spent on trains. On Tuesday we took a train along the shores of Lake Como and on up into the mountains. There is still a considerable amount of snow on the tops. Yesterday we went to Verona, which was much more touristy even at this time of year. However I did manage to get a good picture of Juliet’s balcony – could be a useful visual aid if I ever get to teach Romeo and Juliet again, which I used to enjoy doing very much. I was never really into holiday snaps in the real world so I’m not going to bore you with them in the virtual one. Instead, here is something which is a common sight in Italy, some graffiti.

In this case it is on the side of the train, but it is equally prevalent on buildings, and in public spaces. The question is, is it a valid expression of the creative artistry of the people, just as valid as the works of high art which we pay good money to see in the art galleries and museums, or is it something which despoils an otherwise beautiful country? The previous government in Scotland placed the removal of graffiti and punishment of “offenders” high on the political agenda, but just how offensive is it? Can’t quite make up my mind where I stand on it but it’s usually interesting to read. Is it another form of text?

Taking it Easy


Writing this from Bergamo in northern Italy where I am taking it easy for a week and catching up with some reading, including various helpful articles on the art of blogging and the benefits to teachers of introducing it into their classroom practice. I know instinctively that the idea of having your work read and possibly commented on by an audience way beyond the teacher must be a motivation for young people to write and to be more conscious of the effect their writing has on a reader, so I am determined to explore it and to encourage teachers who have an innate fear of technology, the web and social networking in particular. As the old saying goes, if I can do it………..

Picked up a copy of The Word magazine at the airport on the way out. I had forgotten how good it can be if you want to check out what’s new in music and writing. The latest edition has an interview with Will Self, enigmatic as ever but always interesting.

Hi, 21st Century

Hi, so this is the 21st Century. After more years than I care to think about being involved in learning and teaching, I arrive blinking into this exciting but slightly scary new world. A few years late but never mind. Thanks to Ewan for just throwing me in at the deep end. I’d like to mark my first real post though with a reference backwards as well and a favourite quotation from Muriel Spark in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie:- “The word “education” comes from the root ex, out, and duco, I lead. It means a leading out. To me education is a leading out of what is already there in the pupil’s soul.”

As teachers we must never lose sight of the fact that we are learners first and foremost, and the older I get the more I realise I have to learn. Look forward to sharing with you again.