I've just recently completed a short essay on the use of symbolism in 'The Dead' and 'A Wet Day,' and out of interest spent some time googling the two. There seems to be an unfortunate lack of interest in these stories, at least in terms of blog posts, so I thought I'd share some of my thoughts. Please note that these stories are full of symbolism, and I've only focused very briefly on a few examples. If you have any specific requests, questions or suggestions, feel free to contact us.
Joyce uses symbolism throughout his short story ‘The Dead’ to highlight the dichotomous themes of Ireland’s loss of cultural influence and her loss of cultural independence. Joyce uses music to symbolise a state of cultural paralysis that exists as a result of a combination of the oppression of the individual at the hands of Western civilisation, the Irish Catholic Church and Ireland’s own inflexibility. The discussion of Julia’s losing her place on the choir highlights these separate yet interlinked concerns by introducing the idea that Julia is being silenced or stifled by Irish society and the Irish Catholic religion.
Changing Cultural Life in Germany – Things You Should Know 
A combination of factors resulted in the changes that took place in German social and cultural life between 1923 and 1929. German society had been greatly affected by the First World War, which resulted in a breaking down of barriers between social classes and a shift in gender expectations. One result of this was increased liberalism, which allowed for the emergence of a climate in which artists and intellectuals – many of whom were Jews – could flourish in Germany. Another effect of increased liberalism was the establishment of a powerful underground culture that was largely based on sexual liberalism and involved the spread of prostitution and erotic nightclubs, many of which catered to sexual dissidents (homosexuals and transsexuals). The appointment of Gustav Stresemann to Chancellor in 1923 was a significant factor influencing social and cultural change in Germany. The resulting five years of increased political stability and economic prosperity resulted in improved living standards for the average German, and a decrease in social and political opposition to the Weimar government. The Wall Street Crash of 1929 and subsequent Depression was a significant factor influencing social change in Germany, and leading ultimately to the rise to power of Hitler and the Nazi party. With the Nazis coming into power came a period of repression and extreme control; Nazi policies emphasised state control of the individual and sought to reinstate old-world gender and social values in an extreme way, thus changing social and cultural life in Germany.
There are several problems for an historian attempting to gain an understanding of the motives of Alexander the Great. Firstly, lack of available primary source material is extremely limiting. Most of our main available sources for Alexander are written centuries after his death, and though several of them may well have relied quite heavily on eye-witness accounts, we have very little of this evidence left to be able to substantially verify the accuracy of their dealings with the source material. Also, Alexander’s motives may well have shifted throughout the course of his campaign; Alexander may have begun his campaign out of necessity (economic and military necessity), but his continued expansion and later Orientalism may indicate that his motives shifted dramatically as his invasion wore on. Furthermore, it is common for historians to have a particular interpretation of Alexander’s personality, and this will have a significant influence on the interpretation of his motives, as it encourages us to unconsciously some pieces of evidence as more significant or relevant than others, or to disregard other logical arguments that contradict our own perspective.
Mary Lavin and Edna O’Brien explore the social rejection experienced by women who fail to conform to society’s expectations (particularly ascribed gender roles) in their short stories ‘The Will’ and ‘Creature.’ Lavin in particular was writing during a time when the Roman Catholic church held a great deal of sway in Irish society, and when the rightful, natural role of women was being presented (by Church doctrine and the literary world alike) as being wives and mothers. Both authors attempted to challenge these social and religious parameters through the representation of women in unorthodox situations and their (often negative) experiences.
Shakespeare’s play ‘Othello’ provides a commentary on the contextual belief in the inferiority of dark races. Othello’s transformation under the guidance of Iago provides an ironic insight into the racial attitudes of Shakespeare’s time; Othello is not naturally jealous or unstable, but becomes the extreme stereotype of his race because of the influence of white society. The characterisation of Othello and the juxtaposition of his good character with Iago’s evil, manipulative character reveals Shakespeare’s belief that such stereotypes were absurd and the consequences far reaching. Shakespeare uses his characters, and their interactions to reflect the racial inequality of his time and to lead his audience to question these attitudes and to take responsibility for the effects of stereotyping and cultural inequality.
The following is an extract from our student 'Othello' essay scaffold and study guide pack, focusing on the opening scene of the play through a race-centred analysis.
Joan of Arc, who has become famous for her role in the French victory against England in the Hundred Years War, can also be identified by her rebellion against the gender expectations of the time and the threat she posed to the powerbase of the Catholic Church as a result. Accepted as a prophet of God among the French, and as a soldier and military commander, Joan subverted the patriarchal powerbase of the Catholic Church, and it is for this reason above any other that she was executed in May 1431.
Joan of Arc was born around the year 1412 during the Hundred Years War, which by this time had been waging fitfully for almost eighty years. The village she was born in – Domremy – was situated in Eastern France, which had severely suffered as a result of the violence and plundering of the conflict.
Tomorrow When The War Began is the first in a series of Young Adult novels by Australian author John Marsden. It has become a popular text for study in Australian schools, particularly for years 9 and/or 10, so I thought I'd write a quick introduction and review.
I've been noticing recently that schools in our area are failing to give students sufficient (and sometimes relevant) homework. I was a bit unpleasantly surprised, and thought it would be a good topic for a blog post. Please share your opinions and experiences in the comments, as I'd love for this particular topic to become a discussion. I think it's so important that we truly consider the value of homework and take pains to improve its use in our homes and school systems.
Lets take a moment to think about the purpose of homework, using maths as our main example. Homework is designed to maintain, rather than extend, student learning. Students learn a skill at school, like how to do long division, and then take home work that allows them to practise that skill. Once they've practiced that skill in various circumstances (i.e. through applying it to a variety of different styles of questions), they are ready to move on to a separate skill.
If students don't do their homework regularly, they lose the skill. This means that when the class moves on to something else, these children are left behind. And if they continue to neglect their homework (or if they are not given homework at all), they can fall further and further behind. Furthermore, if the skill is a fundamental skill like times tables or division, a students' inability to easily use this skill will have a detrimental impact on everything else they do in this subject. Their speed and accuracy will be affected, and as a result they are likely to be labelled incapable or unintelligent, when in reality all that's happened is they've missed out on developing a solid foundation in the core mathematical skills.
Think of it this way: when your child learns a new skill, they are developing new pathways in their brain. When they practise that skill over and over again, they are wearing that trail into a well-paved road that is easy to find when they need to use it. Homework is there to pave the road and widen the lanes so that when we go back to use it, we can find our way to the solution with as little fuss as possible. Using this same analogy, we could say that a desired outcome of homework is that it allows us to follow our well-paved mental roads to new skills and problems with limited roadblocks.
However, not all schools are giving adequate homework and not all schools are giving relevant homework. That is why parents need to be aware of their children's homework schedule and be willing to create or provide supplementary homework if need be. It can be hard to initiate a new homework schedule or program at first, but keep in mind the desired outcome. A little extra effort now can mean a world of difference to their future learning experiences, as well as improving the opportunities available to them.
I came across an interesting article at Discover Magazine's blog site, and thought I'd share it with you. This is a very interesting article and the author has some excellent comments, but I think it misses the point ever so slightly. The focus should be on critical literacy in general, and students taught to apply skills of critical evaluation to all sources of information, whether science, news or otherwise.
Also, I believe that students (and people in general) need to be encouraged to be active learners throughout their lives in order to be active and effective citizens. If, for example, we don't know enough about the scientific issues that are so important in politics and society today (to use the example from the following article), we need to be willing to research those issues ourselves and engage with them critically in order to form informed and intelligent positions. An understanding of and ability to apply critical literacy skills can help to achieve this. We as a society are too complacent, and much of this can be addressed through our education system.
What’s More Important: Science Literacy or News Literacy?
Yesterday, a new student studying for the NSW HSC came for tutoring. For those of you who don't know what the HSC (Higher School Certificate) is, it is the award given for the final year of study in Year 12 in NSW (Australia) high schools. Fifty percent of the marks come from school based assessments and fifty percent from the final statewide exam. Because students are being assessed fairly continually throughout the year, studying for the HSC can be a gruelling experience, particularly for young people prone to anxiety.
So, back to our young student ... His first major English assessment was a bit of a disaster. It was a speech and through sheer nervousness, he forgot everything he was going to say and ended up speaking in dot points. His teacher was not impressed, to say the least. He received 50% and the written comment on his marking sheet that read "Did you even try?" By the time he got here, he was a discouraged, teary-eyed mess.
He had in fact tried. His self esteem is already struggling to cope with the demands of the English course, for which he has actually been ill-prepared by the school system. Smart-alec, negative comments that don't offer any constructive advice on how to improve can place a huge amount of emotional stress on a student.
So teachers, please remember to be kind. Unless comments are going to be helpful, just don't make them.
Do you remember when, as a child in school, your attention sometimes wandered away from the lesson at hand? You stared out the window into open space, looking at nothing in particular, just wondering. And just maybe, a slight smile may have come to your lips as a thought budded and then exploded into a whole new world. What a wonderful world it was!
It wasn't that you really longed to be somewhere else. You just longed to be! There was an inner thrill, and it was all your very own.
Psychologists like to tell us that these pubescent years are sex based, and all activity turns on that. Ah! But there is so much more! Many times youngsters daydream; their minds filled with magical things and often to our surprise they have heard what has been said. Their minds, sponge like, soak up every nuance, sensation, and feeling.
The world is, as it is, their oyster, a wonderland of things to explore, of new thoughts and feelings to generate. All of which comes together in a delight of being alive, fully active and restless. Do you remember how it was? Close your eyes, just for a moment, and think back.
Do you remember when all of that died?
Schools kill that delicious sense of wondering by insisting students color within the lines, no matter what those lines may be. Rote memorizing stuff doesn't create wonderment, foster creativity, or delight in learning.
Question: Does the mass demand for standardized testing foster wonderment? Hardly. They stifle, no-destroy-creative teaching and creative learning. They leave no room for the teacher to reach out and intellectually touch the developing mind of his or her students. To take them on an odyssey composed of excitement and possible dreams. They used to say it was a loss of innocence. That's not true. It is a loss of creative minds. A horrid sadness fills my soul.
Cock Robin, I know who killed you.
Norman W Wilson, PhD
Dr. Wilson has forty years experience in education. He is the author and co-author of college textbooks in the humanities. His latest book is DUH! The American Educational Disaster.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6959350
Having tutored struggling high school students for a long time now, I have noticed a disturbing pattern. Most of them don't know their time tables or other basic number facts. The way in which their results are assessed and reported does not reveal this to parents. I have had parents come to me with school reports pointing out that their children cannot understand trigonometry or what ever specific topic they have been tested on. Unfortunately, their children believe this too and begin to think they are stupid and unable to get good marks. However, I quickly discover that their mistakes and slowness in completing questions are the consequence of basic arithmetic errors. They do not know their times tables. Many also add and subtract incorrectly. Reliance on a calculator does not overcome these limitations because these children cannot recognise when an answer is clearly wrong and double check it. There are also typically non-calculator tests that students must complete in high school. The fundamentals can't be bypassed without serious consequences.
Rote learning has been devalued in modern society and many students have no concept of the value of memorisation. Yet the old fashioned ways of learning times tables worked. I still remember my times tables after all these years. I remember rhythmically repeating the times tables with the rest of the class in a sing-song voice. It was boring and seemed rather pointless at the time but the method worked and I still remember them.
The importance of times tables may not be too apparent in primary (elementary) school but they are the basics upon which a good mathematics experience in high school is based. If kids can learn the lyrics of countless songs, they can learn their times tables. Parents and teachers need to emphasise the importance of the basics to academic success and make learning them a priority.
As well as daily repetition and practice of times tables here are some tips to help work out answers quickly (but not as quickly as knowing them by rote):
The 9 Times Table up to Ten
1. Hold your hands in front of you with your fingers spread out.
2. For 9 X 3 bend your third finger down. (9 X 4 would be the fourth finger etc.)
3. You have 2 fingers in front of the bent finger and 7 after the bent finger.
4. Thus the answer must be 27.
Another 9 Times Table Method
The 4 Times Table
The Eleven Times Table
These tricks can be helpful in quickly finding answers to the above multiplication tables but they are not a substitute for learning the times tables.
Our primary contributor is Elissa, who is a qualified high school teacher and Irlen Screener.