Friday, August 29, 2014

The Language of Money

A good one here for senior pupils: John Lanchester on the language of money, with lots to discuss in class, including metaphor and the impact of figurative language on real lives.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

English 2016

The school year starts this time next week, and we've been preparing. An innovation this year is publishing our own Leaving Certificate book (the cover is above, with photos by Anna Herrero on the front, and Peter Watts on the back). This includes lots of advice, resources and materials for our incoming Fifth Form. A major part is an excellent version of Antigone by Sophocles, one of the comparative texts. A big shout-out here to Ian Johnston of Vancouver Island University in British Columbia, who generously makes his translation available free of charge to teachers and their students. Read more about this generosity on his site Johnstonia here.

This is the fourth time we've used the superb service of self-publishers; read about them in a previous post here and on the CESI site here. There's a gentle enough learning curve for your first publication, but then it becomes very easy to produce your own attractive books at a very reasonable cost (and save on lots of photocopying too).

All pupils involved will also receive the book in e-form, via their Google Drive.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Summer Book recommendations 6: This Boy

This Boy: a memoir of a childhood is by the British Labour Party politician (former Home Secretary, among other things) Alan Johnson. The first thought on reading it is that his life experience is light years away from the cohort of younger privileged politicians currently at the head of British public life, who have known little other than that life. Johnson's childhood in pre-developed Notting Hill was very different, being both materially deprived and emotionally tragic. However, this cleanly-written memoir has no self-pity and does not over-egg the deep sadness at its core, the awful life of his mother Lily. And it has a real life heroine, his extraordinary sister Linda, who tried to save her mother and did save her brother in all sorts of ways. She grew up very early indeed, and her brother followed: towards the end he writes "At eighteen years of age I was about to move house for the seventh time. I'd left school, had four jobs, been in two bands and had fallen for the woman I was about to marry, in  the process becoming a father as well as a husband."

This is a great read for anyone, but a real eye-opener for teenagers today, being both a fascinating social history and a story to make everyone think about their - we hope - fortunate lives.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Leaving Certificate results, 2014

Congratulations to our candidates on their results in the Leaving Certificate, which came out yesterday. The College's overall average points total was 441, maintaining the high standards of recent years, with the five-year average 452.  More details are here on the College website.

In English, 83% of our candidates sat the English exam at Higher Level (compared to 67% nationally).

  • 9% of all our candidates achieved an A at Higher Level (nationally, 6.2% of all candidates achieved this).
  • 36% achieved a B (nationally, 17.7% of all candidates).
  • 32% achieved a C (nationally, 27.1% of all candidates).

See previous results by clicking on the years for 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Summer Reading Recommendations 5: Darkness, Darkness

One of the very best crime series has just come to an end: John Harvey's Nottingham detective Charlie Resnick first appeared in Lonely Hearts in 1989. The 25 years since have seen a succession of excellently-written novels (there was a 10-year gap after Last Rites in 1989), culminating in the end of Resnick's career in Darkness, Darkness, the 12th in the series. This revisits the Miners' Strike of the 1980s and has all the virtues of the series, being beautifully paced, elegantly written and, in the final pages perfectly pitched, and not at all as dark, despite the title, as the end of Mankell's Kurt Wallender (though we miss the slavering sandwich descriptions of the earlier books).

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Summer Reading Recommendations 4: Love, Nina

This one has an odd and perhaps unpromising premise: subtitled 'Despatches from Family Life', Nina Stibbe's first book is a collection of her letters to her sister about her experiences as a nanny to a literary London family in the 1980s is enormously funny, with the highlights a series of dry and bizarre conversations. In the words one of the recurring figures, Alan Bennett, "It's funny. I'm not sure what it's about. A bunch of literary types doing laundry and making salad - or something." Love, Nina is a great holiday read (a great read full stop - it would cheer you up in the depths of winter too).