Friday, May 31, 2013

Pride and Prejudice 3: laughing and teasing

Number 3 in a series of analyses using the iPad app ShowMe to examine key ideas in Pride and Prejudice

Here, we see one of Elizabeth's characteristics, the ability to laugh at and tease others (and herself), a quality which is one of the key ways by which she attracts Darcy.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Voices of Poetry 2013

Always one of the highlights of the year, Voices of Poetry on Sunday evening was again a lovely occasion. We entered a darkened Big Schoolroom from the brilliance of a summer evening (pictured - the Deerpark just beforehand) for 50 minutes of great poetry from around the world, expertly marshalled and introduced by Mr Swift.

Jack Goulding opened proceedings appropriately with Billy Collins's 'Today' ('a spring day so perfect...'). He was followed by members of the I form sets reading two Seamus Heaney poems ('When all the others were away at Mass' and 'Mother of the Groom'), and then a group of poetry in romance languages, including Latin (Sadhbh Sheeran), Catalan (Cecilia Duran-Basso), Spanish (Richard Hartweck), Portuguese (Rebecca Jetter), Italian (Maria Trigo Puig) and French (members of Mr O'Shaughnessy's set). They were followed by the first staff reader, Mr McCarthy, who recited 'The Parthenon', a poem written by a Chaplain from the 1940s, F.A. Evelyn.

Following Irish (Mark Crampton), we headed back to more foreign-language poetry - German (Johanna von der Marwitz), Japanese (Saya Kasuze), Norwegian (Hakon Schug) and Arabic (Dena al Hamdan). A regular feature next - an entrant to the national Poetry Aloud competition, this time Henry Carroll with 'The Cold Heaven' by W.B. Yeats. Molly Buckingham followed, sportingly reading a poem on skiing (she had a close encounter with an Italian mountainside over Easter and is only just off crutches). 

The second staff member was Mr Jones from the Science Department, with Paula Meehan's 'Solace'. Three more foreign poems followed: Dutch (Pascal Dillenberger), Ukrainian (Anton Lysenko with a first) and Benin (Iyobosa Bello-Asemota).

This year's two poetry prize winners delivered a poem each from their winning portfolios - Lucia Masding (junior) and Sadhbh Sheeran (Senior), and they sandwiched Chinese (Mantak Suen) and Irish (the Senior Prefect Hamish Law read the latter, a poem by Máirtín Ó Direáin, as well as translating it). And finally, Candela Casasus read the perfect summer love poem, 'He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven' by W.B. Yeats:

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

We headed back out into the late evening sunshine, refreshed by our encounters with great literature from around the world.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Transition Year English Evening, 2013

Last night in the BSR IV form finished their  course with the annual TY English Evening, and received their marks and grades. As usual, we heard some of the pieces written recently for Work Portfolios (several of these will be posted here before the end of term), and a guest speaker, this time our Librarian Mr McConville, commented on these.

Observation and reflection were the key notes of the pieces we heard. Iyobosa Bello-Asemota started things confidently with her story of a single moment in her year told in slow-motion. Arthur Moffitt followed with a very different piece of story-telling, in 'The Fairytale of the Handkerchief' which vividly imagined the pre-history of the key object in Othello (which TY had studied in class in the first term). John Clarke was third, observing his grandmother with an unblinking but affectionate eye. He was followed by two pieces called 'The Watcher', the first being an unflinching account of Bethany Shiell's work experience in a hospital, the second an unsettling short story by Ally Boyd Crotty. On a more cheerful note, Sofia McConnell read her evocation of an African scene, 'The Beauty of the World', and this lighter mood was continued by Alex Barnes-Auld, whose touching account of his first love (a teddy-bear called Sebastian) amused all. Marina Pollock read out her piece on 'The Satisfactions of Reading' (included the sensuous joys of books in the digital world) and Mark Russell finished off the readings reminiscing about his Winnie the Pooh toy.

Mr McConville then commented on the 'brilliant' quality of what he had heard, saying that it was a most impressive representation of the standard of work being done by IV formers this year. He pointed out that this process was centrally to do with creativity: in their words, the writers had created something that had never before existed. He spoke eloquently about the vital nature of reading, and in particular fiction (especially in its encouragement of empathy).

He then announced the six pupils who this year received Premier awards (over 80%): Iyobosa Bello-Asemota, Ally Boyd Crotty, Nicola Dalrymple, Eliza Hancock, Sofia McConnell and Bethany Shiell.

Well done to all, and watch this space for the work that will be posted in the coming week or two.

Junior Public Speaking Competition 2013

Each year we prepare II formers for the Junior Public Speaking competition. Here's a report from the College website about last Saturday's event:

"Last Saturday saw the ninth annual public speaking competition for II form take place in the Cadogan. There were a record number of speakers - thirteen in all delivering speeches on a topic of their choice before an audience of the Junior members of the College. The standard of speeches was possibly the highest ever and it is eloquent testimony to the skill of the English Staff in preparing their pupils as well the confidence and ability of the pupils themselves. The pupils are given a very short time to prepare their speeches and then invited to volunteer for the event. The speeches ranged from the comic to the serious, the personal to the academic, the light-hearted to the challenging.

There were some excellent speeches and special mention should be given to Helena Gromotka's bravura speech on her family which was delivered entirely without notes as was Jack Stokes's very moving speech on his grandfather which elicited great applause. Douglas Boyd Crotty and Blanaid Sheeran gave very good comic speeches which were both amusing and well-paced. Emmanuella Ejase-Tobrise was the runner-up speaking on the subject of Women's Rights. The winner was Freddie de Montfort who gave a speech on a historical theme - 'The Hassassins' (an Islamic sect operating in the Middle East as the time of Crusades). Freddie was able to demonstrate clear knowledge and passion for his subject and we all learned something about the subject on that evening. Congratulations to all those who participated in a very successful evening."

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Pride and Prejudice 2: observing eyes

Number 2 in a series of analyses using the iPad app ShowMe to examine key ideas in Pride and Prejudice

Here, Elizabeth is unaware that she is being observed by Darcy, who is discovering she is more interesting than he had first admitted to himself.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Another in the series of poems by candidates for the Junior Poetry Prize 2013. This is one by Nyla Jamieson (I form):


The old dog, upon hearing me come,
Slowly gets to its feet to greet me.
It drags its paws as if they are bricks or
Disobedient children.

The young dog meanwhile, springs to its feet.
Yapping loudly, it rushes over,
Its tail a blur showing the pup's joy.
Like a lightning bolt it is here at my feet.

"Sit", I command. The young dog ignores.
The old dog sits down immediately;
It gazes at me and waits for orders,
Like a slave waiting on its master.

As I watch my two dogs together,
They treat each other with strong respect.
The pup runs rings around its fellow,
Like a sheepdog around a lame ewe.

And yet, it doesn't take advantage
Of its elder's weakness.
I pat my two very different dogs,
Then go inside thinking of their friendship.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Pride and Prejudice 1: quick judgments.

Number 1 in a series of analyses using the iPad app ShowMe to examine key ideas in Pride and Prejudice

This looks at the way people are immediately and hungrily judged in this society. Here, Bingley and Darcy arrive on the scene for the first time.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Old Memory

Another entry for the recent Junior Poetry Prize. This is by Catherine Butt from Primary (who was awarded a Junior Scholarship last week):

The Old Memory

The rain attacked the window furiously
the day she left

It was a Saturday
A day usually full to the brim
With happiness, maybe sunshine.
But not that day:

Nurses ran back and forth
Their sad faces digging a hole in my chest,
Deeper and deeper
Filling it with tears.

Doctors screamed upsetting words
That deafened me,
Filling my ears with painful sounds
That made me want to
Curl up and disappear.

She lay in the vibrant cot
Slipping in and out of consciousness.
Time was running out,
It was nearly time for her to go.

She passed so quietly
that when it was over
it didn't seem right
That she was gone from our lives.

She may have been old,
She may have been deaf
But she broke our family chain
With her untimely death.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

'Macbeth' quotation auto-test

For pupils preparing Macbeth for their exams, here is a quotation auto-test (below, or direct link here). There are 20 quotations, and as each slide comes up you can think who said the words, in what context, and what wider importance they might have, before an 'answer' appears on the next slide. The idea here is primarily to make you think. Give yourself marks...

For lots more Macbeth revision resources, click here.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Knowledge: old and new

Another entry from this year's Junior Poetry Prize, by Hollie Canning (III form):-

Knowledge: old and new

When I was young
I used to think
that pigs could fly
and cats could wink.

I have a secret
and you must keep it:
I thought parrots could bark, and
carrots would make you see in the dark.

How silly I was back then -
when I dug in the sand
to find a land,
and demanded chocolate for dinner.

But now I know
how kiddies show
the purest innocence
You could ever know.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Junior Poetry Prize, 2013

Congratulations to the winner of this year's Junior Poetry Prize, Lucia Masding (Primary) for her poem 'A New Day Dawns' and also to Hollie Canning and Catherine Butt for their commended poems, which will also be posted here in the coming days.  The theme given to candidates was 'Old and New'.

'A New Day Dawns'
by Lucia Masding

The sun beams down on the glass windows,
A new day dawns.
Exhaustion for the old man,
Excitement for the young boy.

The young boy energetically bursts out of bed,
While the old man, with great effort, rolls out of bed.
The young boy leaps down the stairs two by two,
His face blooming with eagerness.
The old man descends down on the stair lift,
His face glowering with weariness.

The young boy guzzles down his cereal bar and toast
As the old man gradually consumes his porridge.
The young boy waits impatiently for his orange juice,
The old man tightly clasps the warmth of his tea.

Soon the young boy bounds out of the front door to play football,
Meanwhile the old man wonders what to do.

Later the young boy explodes through the door,
Sweat trickling down his rosy cheeks,
Eager to play on his bike.
The old man thumps down on the couch
Sighing with sheer boredom.

The young boy groans about going to bed
Although he is worn out.
But the old man gladly retires to the warmth
Of his electric blanket.

The young boy eagerly awaits tomorrow, and next year.
The old man wonders if he will live to see another day.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Shakespeare Prize, 2013

Congratulations to Hamish Law, winner of the 2013 Willis Prize for Knowledge of Shakespeare and to Kezia Wright, who is awarded a Distinction and book token as runner-up. Shakespeare remains at the heart of our Department's work, and this annual prize recognises the importance we continue to give him, with his plays studied in the final five years of schooling here.

The candidates had to write an essay on what makes the plays memorable, and also address as an unseen poem Sonnet 57 to the 'fair youth'. The best entries dealt with the underlying anxiety of this memorable work:

Being your slave what should I do but tend
Upon the hours, and times of your desire?
I have no precious time at all to spend;
Nor services to do, till you require.
Nor dare I chide the world without end hour,
Whilst I, my sovereign, watch the clock for you,
Nor think the bitterness of absence sour,
When you have bid your servant once adieu;
Nor dare I question with my jealous thought
Where you may be, or your affairs suppose,
But, like a sad slave, stay and think of nought
Save, where you are, how happy you make those.
So true a fool is love, that in your will,
Though you do anything, he thinks no ill.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

The Netherfield Ball

We're currently studying Pride and Prejudice with V form as part of their comparative module, and everyone is alerted to a well-timed programme on BBC2 on Friday night (9pm to 10.30pm). In Friday's Guardian, John Mullan had a piece on this programme.

As he points out, a ball is "the ultimate occasion for a heady kind of courtship – a trying out of partners that is exciting, flirtatious and downright erotic". Mullan's book What Matters in Jane Austen? (now in paperback) is excellent (certainly far better than the patronising cover and subtitle 'Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved'). Dedicated to the great critic Tony Tanner, who also wrote on Austen, it has many of Tanner's qualities, perceptively following ideas through the novels, such as names, money, intimacy, the lower classes and lots more. Highly recommended.

Below, the ball from the 1995 BBC version.

Friday, May 03, 2013

'Teaching English' magazine, Spring 2013

The Spring issue of Teaching English magazine, edited by Kevin McDermott, is now out and is, as always, well worth reading. It includes winning poems from the 2012 poetry competition, and two helpful lists with reading suggestions - for first and second year pupils, and descriptions of the texts on the 2015 Leaving Certificate course.

Read it below via Issuu (click for a closer view, again for the closest, and use the arrows for navigation).