Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Dog that Never Stops Blogging

We have a noisy neighbour. His name is Geanie, and he ranks high in terms of cantankerous. He’s vociferously angry – ranting daily at everything that goes on around him in idyllic, peaceful Oberalm. He rankles at visitors, harasses cyclists, taunts neighbours, bothers butterflies and generally enjoys his nuisance.

Geanie is driving me mad while I try to work from home. And he’s not taken to me at all in my time living here. I wouldn’t mind, but I usually get along really well with all dogs. And Geanie, well, he’s handsome enough, he loves my girlfriend, and adores his owners – but whenever I pass him he starts in with the obscenities and threats and I just have to tolerate it. That is, just me. No one else in the building gets such grief from his attentions.

He even permeates my thinking. I was reading George Orwell’s biography and came across this nugget on the concept of Newspeak: “The English language becomes ugly and inaccurate because people think foolish thoughts, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier to think them.”

I was meditating on that this morning, when Geanie started in on some poor passer-by school children with his daily growl like an irate old man (much to their upset it seemed). I’m not quite sure what he’s trying to tell the world, and I guess he’s using German rather than English, but it’s no less ugly or slovenly. Today it seemed he was repeatedly shouting ‘Fug-hoff! fug-hoff…!” (as far as I could discern).  It took me back to hostile English high streets and the lilting vernacular of the youth, who articulate the same through mouthfuls of glutomate E621, mono and diglycerides.

There are also three large dogs next door that prowl their garden in lopping boisterous struts, so if Geanie is ever bored of haranguing the wider public, or even just a leaf cascading in the air, he’ll turn his tirade to them. They’d tear him paw from paw, for sure, but safe behind his fenced fortress he persists in moaning at these mongrels of different shapes and sizes. Something like a canine Enoch Powell, blasting and venting to a disinterested public who are forced to listen to he who barks loudest. The other dogs sniff back in bemusement, while he turns himself cerise in choking foul chastisement.

Sometimes I’ll imagine catching Geanie unawares, sunbathing drowsily on the driveway with a happy evil grin twisted into his jaw as he dreams of disrupting flocks of lambs with his cacophony of hate.  I’ll creep upon his slumber, so close I can hear his weary lungs satisfyingly reconstitute after a hard days bark. And perhaps with a foghorn, or better still a bucket of cold water, I’ll dash him from his peace – as he does to me on a daily basis. Yes, in fact as I write he has started again. Howling at the nothingness, like a mad sage. I’d change his name to Nero if he was mine. A good name for a bad dog.

Just to show I’m not a complete pet-botherer (I consider dogs to be something like angels, actually) here’s some pictures from Salzburg’s International Dog Show, which is over for another year. 25,000 pooches in one place over three days, and not a single angry yelp from one of them. Blessed are the meek.

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A lesson I recently conducted with younger learners (13-14) to help with engagement with text and manipulating language. This is based on printer/Academy artist Tom Phillips (some of whose work is exhibited herein), and was inspired by an art teacher friend. The project was really successful with amazing results from 14year old kids.

1. Take some old books. In my case I used The Sound and the Fury and One Hundred Years of Solitude. In fact, it would be great to see results from other texts: like medical encyclopedias, or old instruction manuals, etc

2. Start severing pages from the book. This is the best bit. The reaction from the kids as you hack apart the books is priceless.

3. Distribute the pages, along with heavy ink pens and/or crayons. The students could be shown the attached images to inspire their approach and end-results.

4. Students are to circle the words that attract them on the page. It’s well worth giving them a brief, such as a theme, or emotion, or to make results based on alliteration. It’s also worth directing them to include some connectives and prepositions.

5. The isolated words can be read aloud: the results are often lucid imagery-based poems. I also used an animation video of Jabberwocky by Lewis Caroll to enhance their impression that poetry is often detached from concrete, rational based meaning. It is really effective for so-called ‘visual learners’, as they are able to create William Blake style productions from the torn out pages.

N.B. This is not something I can imagine working effectively with a Kindle. Thank God for printed books.

N.B 2 It may well be worth checking on the contents of printed artifacts before distributing to ensure pages with any inflammatory language do not end up in the hands of some nutty kid who gets excitable about political correctness in literature




May 13, 2012 · 9:58 am

Survey for students on new media

I will be in a school in Cambridgeshire next week to conduct the research centred around my thesis on digital media use in schools (particularly the application of blogs as an asset for reinforcing curriculum awareness, and acting as a learning check). My research also aims to explore the teachers role in mediating learning through the use of these tools, yet done so invisibly in order to enhance student-centred independent work, and creation of and responsibility for their own educational resources (i.e. the class blog they have created).

My research will be done by interview and analysis with teacher and students. As such, I’d be interested (if anyone’s following me) in recommended lines of questioning (in view of this here blog, both sarcastic and serious suggestions will be considered).

Greetings and appreciations

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Filed under Blogging potentials, Technology and education