The Christmas truce…emotional connections.

Research completed by the National Literacy Trust published on 1st December has provoked discussion. They discovered that 24% of boys read stories on screen longer than when they read printed books, compared with 12% of girls. There was a lot of discussion about this in the press, but everybody I heard talking about it said that a healthy balance between books and tablets is what parents and teachers should aim for. I think that any increase in reading must be good! When pupils connect emotionally with a text, reading provokes thought, so any book that encourages this could be used. What about pupils translating and illustrating Michael Morpurgo’s ‘The Best Christmas Present in the World’ at their level (it could just be a summary of their thoughts)? morpurgo for blog

I’d like to remind you about the fantastic British Council resources on truce language in different languages that I mentioned a while ago. If any pupils or students took photos of any activities during Football Remembers Week they could upload them on the site. I was reminded of a message a Year 7 pupil wrote in my lesson a couple of years ago when he was asked to write down what he would like for Christmas. He used a dictionary to help him, very competently, I might add. He translated into French;

‘I would like a world without war.’

What about poetry? I have been reading through a lot of very moving poetry recently because I was asked to judge the entries from secondary schools to a competition about the power of objects at the British Museum. This Dinggedicht poetry competition has been organised by Dr Godela Weiss-Sussex of the University of London who said, ‘It all started when I attended a lecture given by Neil MacGregor about the British Museum’s exhibition Germany: memories of a nation. I was inspired by his bold and perceptive approach to exhibiting German history and by the clarity of vision achieved by relying on the narrative power of objects.’ The winners were announced at a wonderful evening.

I was recently moved by Paul Kobrak’s words. He is the series producer of Germany: memories of a nation on BBC Radio 4.

‘In fact, on a personal note, it’s been more than an education; it has changed my own personal views of the country. Despite the fact that I have a German passport (a legacy of my German father, who left the country as a child over 75 years ago), I have never had a close affinity to the country that I have always viewed through the prism of 12 years of Nazi rule. In that regard, having never lived in Germany and rarely visited it, I am probably not very different from many British people. However, having spent much of the past nine months working on this series, I realised how limited my knowledge (and views) of Germany are – that I need to broaden my own outlook and try to better understand the rich history behind it.

Radio programmes don’t change the world. They can’t. But if we can change the view of one person, then it’s a job well done. In that regard, I suppose the series is already a success. I can only hope that it doesn’t stop there.’

What about using objects? If you are interested in history and artefacts/ using objects have a look at Teaching History with 100 Objects and Emma Taylor’s recent article on 24th November: Exploring objects and sharing cultures: supplementary schools and the British Museum. Exploring festivals and customs of other lands is really important, isn’t it? This must lead to the development of deeper intercultural understanding.

What about advertising? How can we use this advert? If you have time to look at it  and it’s background The story behind our Christmas ad.  It has good visual images of diaries. In the clip The making of our Christmas ad they talk about the ‘emotional connections’. ‘Even at the toughest of times … there can be great humanity.’ Advertising as a theme provokes discussion. Advertising is controversial and discussing the advantages and disadvantages with A level groups promotes just the debating skills they need to do well in the speaking exam.

Last week I finished my post by saying, ‘Communication in all its forms is vital in our society, isn’t it? Artists, writers, poets, musicians etc all communicate in their own way. Encourage the pupils you teach to look out for all the different ways we ‘talk’ during our working days. Developing an interest in language will stay with pupils all their lives.’
Managing without dictionaries wouldn’t be easy. If we want pupils to express themselves in another language they need a dictionary. How about entering this….cracker of a competition.
Have a look at this!

I hope that you have a very restful time during the next couple of weeks. Next post in 2015!