Monday, October 23, 2017

Bullying Awareness Competition 3

Another winner from last week's competition.


Rebecca
lives where it's dry but she
Feels the rain,
Sees the lightning,
Hears the thunder.
Needs the sun but
Fears the sunm
Gives light,
Takes darkness,
Dreams she can fly,
Wonders if she can,
Believes she can't,
She is the light and the darkness.
Murphy.

Articles of the Week


This is an ongoing listing of links to the Articles of the Week used with our Leaving Certificate pupils, from September 2013 onwards.

The idea came from the American teacher and writer Kelly Gallagher, and it fits very well into the Leaving course, getting pupils used to reading interesting articles and thus helping them in both the comprehension and composition sections of their Paper 1, as well as expanding their knowledge base and vocabulary and providing interesting topics for discussion.

Click here for Gallagher's current articles, and read more about the theory behind the scheme in his excellent book Readicide: how schools are killing reading and what you can do about it. Pupils have to mark up the articles with annotations before class discussion.
  1. October 2017: 'A giant insect ecosystem is collapsing due to humans' by Michael McCarthy, The Guardian, October 21, 2017.
  2. October 2017: 'We can't stop mass murder' by Shikha Dalmia, The Week, October 6, 2017.
  3. October 2017: 'What every teacher should know about ... memory' by Bradley Busch, The Guardian, October 6, 2017 [learning, memory, teaching].
  4. October 2017: 'Think the world is in a mess: here are 4 things you can do about it' by Alexandre Christoyannapoulos. The Conversation, November 16, 2016 [activism, citizenship, economics].
  5. September 2017: 'The power of silence in the smartphone age' by Erling Kagge, The Guardian, September 23rd 2017 [technology].
  6. September 2017: '5 reasons why people share fake photos during disasters' by A.J. Willingham, CNN.com, September 8th 2017 [journalism, psychology, social media].
  7. September 2017: 'Can you identify the psychopaths in your life?' by Rob Hastings, iNews, August 29th 2017 [psychology].
  8. February 2017: 'Our roads are choked. We're on the verge of carmageddon' by George Monbiot, The Guardian, September 20th 2016 [environment, transport].
  9. January 2017: 'Girls believe brilliance is a male trait' by Nicola Davis, The Guardian, January 27th 2017.
  10. January 2017: 'What do teenagers want? Potted plant parents' by Lisa Damour, New York Times, December 14th 2016 [adolescence, parenting].
  11. November 2016: 'Trump makes it easy to vote for Her' by Carl Hiaasen, Miami Herald, November 6th 2016 [politics, America].
  12. October 2016: 'How being alone may be the key to rest' by Claudia Hammond, BBC, September 27th 2016 [rest, reading, introversion].
  13. September 2016: 'Why Parents are Getting Angrier' by Nicola Skinner, The Guardian, September 3rd 2016 [parenting, psychology, childhood].
  14. September 2016: 'Burkini beach ban: must French Muslim women become invisible?' by Delphine Strauss, The Irish Times, August 22nd 2016 [culture, Islam, France].
  15. May 2016: 'How can Lidl sell jeans for £5.99?' by Gethin Chamberlain, The Guardian, March 13th 2016 [economics, retailing, manufacture].
  16. April 2016: 'Teaching men how to be emotionally honest' by Anrew Reiner, New York Times, April 4th 2016 [gender, adolescence, masculinity].
  17. February 2016: 'Then and now: how things have changed for teenage girls since the 1950s' by Clare Furniss, The Guardian, January 29th 2016 [teenagers, gender, sexism].
  18. January 2016: 'Teenagers risk being defined for life by their social media posts' by Karlin Lilllington, Irish Times, January 14th 2016 [social media, teenagers, identity].
  19. January 2016: 'Welcome to the Anthropocene, a new geological era for the world', The Week, January 8th 2016 [geology, climate change, environment].
  20. November 2015: 'Birth Order Determines ... Almost Nothing' by Jeanne Safer, psychologytoday.com [psychology, parenting, childhood].
  21. November 2015: 'How psychopaths can save your life' by Kevin Dutton, The Observer [psychology].
  22. November 2015: '10 benefits of reading: why you should read every day' by Lana Winter-Hebert, Lifehack.org [reading, entertainment, education].
  23. October 2015: 'How much can you really learn while you're asleep?' by Jordan Gaines Lewis, The Guardian, October 6th 2015 [neuroscience, learning, adolescence].
  24. September 2015: 'Fifth of secondary school pupils wake almost every night to use social media' by Sally Weale, The Guardian, September 15th 2015 [social media, learning, teenagers].

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Bullying Awareness Competition 2

Another of the winners from this week's Bullying Awareness competition, this time by Lucy Maher. This poem was read out in Chapel yesterday. The model given was Brian Bilston's 'Refugees', so when you've read this in the order below, turn it around and read from the last line up.

Happiness has appeared. Cue the spotlight.
I don't want anyone to hear anyone saying
I'm going to rain on your sunshine.
I will skip and jump and
Teach you all
The magical powers of a day with blue skies won't
Disturb those who wish to console in darkness,
I tell you don't 
Forget to dance about in the garden
Encourage those to
Enjoy this marvellous day
Just please don't 
Waste your enthusiasm on mundane things
Happiness is here
I cry.




Friday, October 20, 2017

Bullying Awareness Week Poetry competition



This morning in Chapel Ms Smith introduced the winning poems from the Bullying Awareness Week competition, and there were several readings of these. Over the coming days we will publish some of the entries; there was an excellent field overall.

The overall idea was 'awareness' - of others, of difference. The tagline for BAW this year is 'All Different, All Equal'.

First, anonymously, 'Tainted Love' from the Senior section.

I fell in love with the moon
A pretty girl with bright blonde hair,
Soft as silk and unmarred velvet,
She smelt of lemongrass and steel,
Her eyes deep pools of forest green.
Cool as marble to the touch,
She danced her fingers on my skin
And laced her hands with mine.
Her kiss left bitter in my mouth,
Like blood mingled with rusting iron,
Our tainted loved stained lips.
She told me: 'A girl can't love another girl',
But how could that be true?
When all I cared about was her,
And my mind could think of nothing else.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Five Books



The site Five Books is strongly recommended. A simple idea, well-executed: experts in many areas recommend the five books essential to that subject. There are lots of riches here, with ideal introductions to many subjects. It's also very well laid-out.

For instance, Margo Jefferson, author of Negroland, on cultural memoirs, and Nigel Warburton's  choice of philosophy books.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

House Speech Competition 2017


Eliza Somerville from Fourth Form reviews the recent TY House Speech evening:

An evening full of captivating speeches began with a talk about concussion from Thady McKeever. He spoke about the dangers of contact sports, and the effects of repeated concussion on the brain. He ended his speech with a thought-provoking anecdote about an American football player, who ultimately died as a result of his eighteen-year career in professional sports.

I thought that this speech was very engaging. It began with a strong metaphor of your worst enemy hitting you with a bowling ball, and it was shocking to learn that this is equivalent to the force of a boxer’s fist. I also thought that the story about Mike Webster at the end of the speech was very powerful, as it showed the real-life effects of contact sports on the brain and body.

Next, Frances Wilkinson told us about the Butterfly Effect. She explained how small events can have huge, unforeseen consequences. For example, a butterfly flapping its wings could eventually create a tornado. She used an example of a man who spared the life of a soldier in World War I. This soldier turned out to be Adolf Hitler, who was responsible for millions of deaths in World War II.

I found this speech very interesting, as I was curious about how large an effect a small change could truly have. From the examples Frances used, I realised that even the smallest of actions can change the course of history.

Alexis Haarmann then told us about the controversy surrounding the death penalty. He explained that five per cent of people who are sentenced to death turn out to be innocent, and pointed out that waiting for the death penalty to be carried out is mental torture even for rightfully convicted criminals. I thought that this speech gave me a good background to the death penalty, and it made me more convinced that it should be abolished everywhere.
Ben Upton then outlined each side of the argument on whether marijuana should be legal or not. He explored both the recreational and the medicinal side of marijuana, explaining how the legalisation of marijuana would benefit the economy, and how people who experience seizures can benefit greatly from the use of medicinal marijuana. He eventually came to the conclusion that marijuana should not be legalised, as it just causes people to drift further and further away from reality. This speech was well-researched and it was an interesting view on the controversial topic of marijuana’s legalisation.

This was followed by an impressive speech from Tania Stokes on climate change. She first acknowledged that thinking of global issues can be daunting, and then emphasised that even one person changing their behaviour can have an effect on global issues. She then told us some simple tips on how we can reduce our own carbon emissions and waste. Tania ended her speech by telling us to imagine the most beautiful place we’d ever been to, destroyed forever because of climate change.

Tania’s speech stood out to me as she clearly knew her topic very well, and she was truly passionate about environmental issues. I thought that her ending, where she told people to visualise an amazing place, gone forever, was very strong, as it emphasised the shocking influence climate change could have on our world over the next hundred years.

Next, Andrew Kim gave a speech about transport. He pointed out that, four hundred years ago, people had to walk everywhere, or if they were lucky they had a horse. He described the efficiency of the transport system in South Korea, where they have a single card for all modes of transport. Andrew then went on to talk about the various improvements in transport in recent years, such as self-driving cars and the Hyperloop.

Andrew presented what could have been a dull topic in an engaging way, showing how our lives would be drastically altered if modern transport did not exist. I also found the modern advancements in transport fascinating.

Sam Lawrence then gave an absorbing speech about conservation. He informed us about the issues caused by our over-consumption of products such as palm oil. Deforestation of palm trees is occurring at an alarming rate, as fifty per cent of all products in an average supermarket contain palm oil. Sam covered many important issues in his speech, and showed how vital it is to conserve our planet’s resources.

Afterwards, Sophia Cabo spoke about divorce. In her speech, she drew from personal experience to paint a stirring picture of what it is like to go through the divorce of your parents at a young age. Sophia said that there are three stages to divorce: sadness, anger and happiness, and revealed that she was finally in the happy stage.

In her speech, Sophia showed a side of divorce that many people do not get to see. I thought that she described her journey through a difficult time very effectively.

Killian Morrell then talked about the Beatles. He said that his dad was a fan of the band, so Killian had grown up listening to their music. He added that now, when he listens to their music, he instantly gets nostalgic because it reminds him of his childhood in Dubai. Killian’s speech was unusual, and it gave an interesting picture of the different musical influences in his life.

Finally, Sophia Cole talked about women in sport. She said that recently, people have begun to see that women should not work solely in the home, as they have a lot more to offer. However, she explained that there is still huge inequality between men and women’s sport. For example, men get paid a lot more money for playing the same sport as women, and often get to play in drastically better venues than women.

Sophia raised some interesting points, and her speech was both clear and coherent. It was shameful to hear some of the inequality women still experience in the world of sport today.
At the end of the evening, I thought that the joint winners, Thady McKeever and Tania Stokes, were well-deserving of the prize as their speeches were both compelling and thought-provoking, and they each approached their topics with striking originality.

National Poetry Competition

Many congratulations to Tania Stokes, who has been awarded second place in the junior section of National Poetry competition from  PDST/WellRead for her poem ‘Resonance’. The awards ceremony is on November 7th at the CityWest Hotel.


'Resonance'

I balanced on the strings.
Light as a tightrope walk:
Tentative, timid.
The first sound crept
At the draw of the bow
Like some small creature
From the dark.

I missed my mark.
The tone not true,
My arrow flew into
Nothing. The music played
Itself in my head. Pure,
Featherweight. Nimble.
Lacking.

I composed myself;
I could see it, crystalline,
The filigree lines.
I fixed my aim.
No stray note would escape.
I would catch it
And carve it to perfection.

But I was mistaken
In my reflection.
A cello’s purpose
Is not to take away –
Music grows. Its source?
A spark. Music throws flames
To the dark, illuminates hearts.

I reached deep, my arrow
Steeped in power. The melody,
I let it fly and it soared high –
It felt alive. I dived
Into the rising tide, and once inside,
I let it carry me to shore.
Music is more than perfection.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Shakepeare's Shadows


An excellent site (and idea, of course) is Emily Rome's Shakespeare's Shadows, where actors and directors talk about individual characters in the plays.  For instance, our current Sixth Form should listen to Cordelia and Lear.

Other characters who have featured so far are Mercutio, Ariel, Ophelia, Rosalind, Malvolio, Richard II, Hermione, Henry IV and Viola.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Bullying Awareness Week poetry competition

For the coming Bullying Awareness Week, we are organising a poetry competition, with winners getting vouchers and having their poems read out in Chapel on Friday 20th October. The deadline for entries is Wednesday 18th.
Your teacher will explain to you the tasks, with P, I and II having a go in class/prep. III, IV, V and VI are invited to write a poem in the form of Brian Bilston's 'Refugees', a 'two-way' or mirror poem. More in class soon.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Chaucer Heritage Trust competition


Your teacher will tell you about this competition from the Chaucer Heritage Trust. There are enticing prizes, and entries are due by January 31st 2018. Open to all ages in school. Download details here.

In the Transition Year modules there are classes on Chaucer and Middle English. While the competition is based on The Canterbury Tales, you don't have to know any Chaucer to take part:
  • Write a poem about a journey.
  • Write a short “beast fable” (like the Nun’s Priest’s Tale) which explores an important issue through animal characters.
  • Write a General Prologue entry for an imaginary pilgrim, based upon a modern day occupation. For example, “The Nurse”, “The Investment Banker” or “The Politician”.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Poetry Aloud 2017

All interested in taking part in Poetry Aloud this year should let their teacher, or Mr Jameson, know as soon as possible.
Poetry Aloud is a national verse-speaking competition we've had plenty of success at in the past. Learn more about it here.
There are three categories: Junior (I and II), Intermediate (III and IV) and Senior (V and VI), with the main poems set all being by Patrick Kavanagh: "Kerr's Ass" (junior), "Inniskeen Road: July Evening" (intermediate) and "Shancoduff" (senior).

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Developments in the Library

The superb College Library opened on two sides of the Warden's Garden in 1994, as a result of the Development Appeal in 1993 for the College's 150th anniversary. Now we are approaching our 175th (in 2018), and the Library continues to be central (literally) to the life of the school.  Designed by Old Columban John Somerville-Large, its design has held up superbly, and it still looks as good as new.

Our new full-time professional Librarian, Ms Kent-Sutton, has been busy since she arrived early this year, and indeed over the summer. 

Two fine developments as we start the academic year have taken place. The room through the back of the Junior Reading Room, traditionally called 'The Submarine', has been completed cleared of piles of old books and detritus, and is now ready for use as a seminar and meeting room (it will also hold the archives, which will be held in special new shelving).

Secondly, the catalogue and borrowing system has moved online to 'Oliver', a vital development which allows the Library to reach out beyond the confines of its walls. Pupils and staff can access this here and via the internal Firefly Learning system. It also enables staff to direct pupils to books and other resources in a much more sophisticated and wide-ranging way. Furthermore, all will now have access to the e-book service 'Leabharlann'.

As we head into that 175th anniversary, the Library is in good shape.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Boy Behind The Curtain

Tim Winton's The Boy Behind the Curtain: notes from an Australian life is an outstanding book. Not so long ago he read from and talked about it at the Lexicon in Dun Laoghaire (that talk is now available on their SoundCloud site here; also listen to this chat at the Auckland Writers' Festival in 2015).

Collections of essays can seem thrown-together, but this one isn't: Australia, childhood and the natural world are approached from different angles by Winton in a series of beautifully-written pieces. 'The Boy Behind the Curtain', from which he read at the start of the Lexicon event, examines the potentially fine line between safety and catastrophe that Winton identifies as a key note of life, especially Australian life. This opens out further in 'Havoc: a Life in Accidents', based on his father's job as a motorbike cop and an horrendous accident which nearly killed him (but which in the end gave him a kind of rebirth as an evangelical Christian). Winton recreates with consummate tension their approach to an accident when his father was off-duty, and his own years later with his children in the back of the car. 
The pleasures go on through essays on hospitals, sharks, the saving from developers of Ningaloo Reef and descriptions of the vastness of Western Australia. Great reading, and English teachers will find fruitful material in the earlier essays in particular.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Summer Reading

 
A shorter version of our annual Books of the Year round-up, for the summer months, since there are a few lists floating around at the moment.
  • First of all, of course, are our own summer reading suggestions: for teenagers, for adults (and the extended version is here, including past editions). One that didn't make it in on time (review coming soon): The Boy Behind the Curtain: notes from an Australian Life, Tim Winton's superb collection of essays. As Roger Cox in his Scotsman review says, it's " a book that grabs you by the scruff and forces you to take a good, hard look into the author’s soul."
  • The English & Media Centre has a good list of recommended reads, with Young Adult books, including Sara Baume's latest, A Line Made by Walking. In the young adult section, Daniel Pennac's The Eye of the Wolf sounds interesting.
  • The Irish Times gathers writers such as Anne Enright, Joseph O'Connor and Anne Emerson. Claire Kilroy recommends John Banville's memoir Time Pieces.
  • The Guardian has two bumper lists from authors: part one and part two. Several writers recommend the latest novel from Colm Tóibín, his version of the story of the House of Atreus, House of Names. There's also this shortened list, "If you only read one book this summer … make it this one"
  • The TLS's list has plenty of ambitious reading. Ian Sansom writes that "June Caldwell’s first short collection, Room Little Darker (New Island Books), promises to do for the Irish short story what Jeremy Corbyn has done for the Labour Party" which gets the award for most opaque comment of the summer. 
  • The New York Times has Books to Breeze Through This Summer by Janet Maslin. No One is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts sound intriguing: "Set in North Carolina, Watts’s book envisions a backwoods African-American version of The Great Gatsby. The circumstances of her characters are vastly unlike Fitzgerald’s, and those differences are what make this novel so moving."
  • PBS in America has "19 summer books that will keep you up all night reading". Louise Erdrich rightly goes for the brilliant Donna Leon Brunetti series.
  • The Washington Post has 37 books on its summer list, with links to the original reviews.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Summer Reading list for parents

Last time we posted the Library reading suggestions list for pupils. Now it's time for the annual/biennial reading suggestions for parents. Here are 26 books over 6 pages, but if that's not enough there's an extended list of 26 pages with all the previous editions here. See both below via Issuu.

Happy summer reading.


Extended version:

The Submarine, June 2017

The latest (bumper) edition of the Library magazine The Submarine is now online. Edited by Fifth Former Nyla Jamieson, it contains articles by pupils on our four long-serving retiring teachers, Felix Alyn Morgan on Samuel Beckett's connection with the College, an article on 'Lucid Dreaming' by Nevin McCone, Mr McCarthy on 'what really annoys me' (spoiler: Jose Mourinho. A lot), Dr Bannister on the dangers of rugby, a book review by Alex Lawrence, the author Joseph O'Connor on how a novel changed his life (romantically), poems by Eliza Somerville and Tania Stokes, Garry Bannister again on Patrick Ussher's book on POTS syndrome and plenty more!

Read it below via Issuu. Use the arrows to navigate, and click for closer view.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer Reading List for pupils

The summer reading list returns, compiled by Librarian Jean Kent-Sutton. This one has an excellent array spread across sections such as Junior Fiction, the shortlist for the 2017 Carnegie Medal (young adults), Irish authors, Classic fiction, Poetry, Gender and Identity, Non-Fiction and Biography.

You can read it on Issuu below (flip through the pages, and zoom in too), and can download it directly from this link.  Happy summer reading...


Friday, June 09, 2017

Leaving Certificate Paper 2

(See analysis of Paper 1 here).

The hordes poured out of exam centres an hour ago after the marathon which is the English literature paper.

No reasons to complain here at Higher Level. Our central text, Hamlet, had two questions all should have been able to handle comfortably - the play as a 'disturbing psychological thriller' and a question on Laertes and Horatio, both of whom our pupils have been well-prepared for (again, the single text questions on The Great Gatsby were very straightforward).

Comparative study featured General Vision and Viewpoint, and Theme or Issue, with all four questions being remarkably undemanding, and pulling away from the tighter more defined questions of recent years.

Robyn Sarah's poem 'Bounty' was the unseen choice, a good one which provided plenty of material for consideration. Boland, Donne, Keats and Bishop were the line-up of prescribed poets, and again the questions seemed less defined and constrained than recently (there's a fondness for 'doubles' - 'symbols and metaphors', 'playful and challenging', 'style and content', 'sensuous language and vivid imagery'...).

At Ordinary Level, it was good to see the playful 'poet of Twitter', Brian Bilston feature with the unseen poem being 'For We Shall Stare at Mobile Phones'. The rest of the paper was as straightforward as always at this level.