The great linguist, M.A.K. Halliday has died. | (MichaelRosen)

The great linguist, M.A.K. Halliday has died. His work used to be central to the way secondary English teachers treated language as ‘language in use’, with an emphasis on how language is part of social existence. Some of it got mis-used (I would argue) by the National Literacy Strategy as ‘genre’ work, though I’m not against a light-handed use of genre as a way of doing writing in schools. He taught my father linguistics, (as I wrote about jokily in ‘So They Call You Pisher!’ ) and – to put it crudely – fled the UK, once he realised that the government weren’t interested in rational…

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Infected with superiority | (MichaelRosen)

People who’ve led lives growing up in suburbs, in comfortable homes, going to schools with glorious playing fields, playing in orchestras, playing in teams, find themselves in power in the parliament of the UK, equipped as it is with rockets and bombs, with a history of strutting across huge areas of the earth’s surface, ruling over millions, still talking of ‘spheres of influence’ and ‘our strategic interests’, acting as if it is a right and a duty to decide what is or is not a humanitarian crisis, what is or is not the humanitarian crisis that it has to ‘respond to’, what is or is not the…

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Is Education getting better? | (MichaelRosen)

The way to convince people that education is getting better is to restrict education to what can be tested, train teachers (or force them) to teach to the test, and hey presto the results go up! But if all that’s being taught is that which can be tested, is it getting better?If education is leaving out more and more stuff that teachers, students and society thinks is valuable, then no matter how good the results, education isn’t getting better is it?

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Writing for pleasure 8 – what have I left out? | (MichaelRosen)

It’s easy when writing things like this to tie everything up into neat programmes or lists of things to do. I’ve tried to make clear throughout that whatever I’ve written here and elsewhere they are for adapting by whoever is reading it. 

There’s another aspect to this: there are always bits missed out, an emphasis that was skewed, points that were not made, so this last section is a kind of rag-bag of thoughts about what comes before.

1. All writing is helped by reading. The more that pupils read, the easier it is for them to write. The more widely they read, the easier it is for them to…

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Writing for Pleasure 7 Distribution | (MichaelRosen)


An important, significant part of this whole process is what we do with whatever it is the pupils write. Traditionally, most of what is written goes into exercise books, which are sent to teachers who then mark them and hand them back. This means in terms of distribution this kind of writing only gets an audience of one, and that audience is not reading that piece for the prime reason of pleasure but of correcting it, and/or helping the writer develop/get better etc.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong per se with this, but there is a problem to my mind, if  this is the main or…

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Writing for Pleasure 6a – Invention – example | (MichaelRosen)

I thought it would be a good idea to take an actual example of a piece of literature where you could work the paradigm-syntax method of imitation.

Consider ‘The Tempest’.

If we construct a single sentence that is ‘The Tempest’ we might get: ‘A sorcerer-Duke gets revenge on the person who usurped him.’

We might add in some phrases with things like ‘by using his powers to bring the usurper and his entourage to his island-home and to marry off his daughter with the usurper’s son.’

We can add in the sub-plot with some  clauses like ‘while the native inhabitants (who the sorcerer Duke has…

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Writing for Pleasure 6 – Invention | (MichaelRosen)


By this I mean ‘creative’, ‘innovative’, ‘new’, ‘original’ and applies in this case to all kinds of writing, not just stories, poems and plays, and also applies to many other spheres of life and work: all the arts, applies arts, engineering, anything involving planning, figuring out a way forward mentally, visualising what to do in, say, sport or housing, politics and so on. My own view is that the fate of us on this planet depends on this, so anything that encourages, fosters and nurtures it in schools is to be welcomed. However, I think that it needs attention and loving care…

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