Thursday, December 22, 2005

Any 'King's Quest' fans out there?

I'm hesitant to post this, because the extent of my geekdom will finally be revealed, but maybe it's too late to try and hide it, anyway.

I just found out today that a King's Quest IX will be released as freeware sometime next year! Hurrah! It is particularly exciting because it has been written by some ardent fans of the series who were disappointed that Sierra (the original developer) turned their back on the series after the disappointing sales of King's Quest VIII. (but it only failed because they left the essential ingredients of King's Quest- an interesting narrative, a sense of humour, and characters that you care about- behind to jump on the 'shoot em up/violence' bend of RPG's that is pretty much all that is left of this once great genre and that I have absolutely no interest in. Hmph.)

These fan fiction writers/developers are writing/designing a trilogy that ties together all the loose ends of the Kingdom of Daventry mythology once and for all. It should be fantastic because they will be keen to preserve the essence of the original games/stories. You can check out their website, if you're interested.

The King's Quest series would have to be included amongst the great narratives of my childhood. When I was about 7 or 8 my family 'baby-sat' my dad's friend's computer while he was overseas (before we got our own). He had the original King's Quest, and I have fond memories of hours spent trying to figure out the 'language' required to get that little VGA man to interact with the other characters and objects in his world (before 'point and click' interfaces were invented, obviously). I loved exploring the sprawling worlds, extending the narrative by solving the puzzles, meeting the new characters. I realise now that this series constitutes some of my earliest experiences of hypertext/non-linear narratives, which have become increasingly interesting to me and that I want to explore in my own writing. The series also included a couple of the very few female protagonists in adventure games (or any, for that matter).

So, I'm looking forward to it! The screenshots already out there look great, and include some familiar landscapes and characters from the original series.

A Drowning

This is the one song everyone
would like to learn: the song
that is irresistible:
the song that forces men
to leap overboard in squadrons
even though they see the beached skulls
the song nobody knows
because anyone who has heard it
is dead, and the others can’t remember.
-M. Atwood, "Siren Song"
“Why don’t they ever notice until it is too late?”
“The victims.”
“They do notice, they just think that they are strong enough to resist it.”
“Haven’t they heard the stories?”
“The stories are part of the charm. They all want to prove that they are stronger than the one who came before.”
“Why? Why don’t they take the safe route across the bay, instead of coming along the coastline? The only dangers that they have to watch for in the bay are the sharks and the sea monsters. Those dangers are far less than what they face here.”
“They are adventurers. They think that everything on this earth can be conquered by them, and that they are invincible.”
“They are wrong though, aren’t they?”
“Yes, they are wrong.”
“I wonder what it would be like to be one of them.”
“Why would you want to waste time wondering that? It would be awful not to be able to control your own thoughts and desires.”
Yes, I know you must be right, but I would still like to meet one of them one day, and ask them why they continue to come.”
“Well, that will never happen, none of them will ever make it here alive.”
“I used to watch them and think that the next one would be the one to make it, that the next one would be the one to overcome the danger. I don’t think that any more, I have found too many of them washed up on the rocks.”
“You need to stop thinking of them as something to value, as something to want to keep. They are just like tiny grains of sand. There are piles and piles of them, and they will keep coming, no matter how many are lost. You can’t lose sleep over it. Many of them would still be lost, even if we were not here. Our contribution really makes little difference.”
“Yes, I know. I just wish...”
“I used to be like you, when I was just starting out. But I became numb after a time. You will too, once you have seen a few more drownings.”
“Look, here comes one now. See the little speck on the horizon? I love it when they appear at sunset, they look so pretty against the red and purple stripes that cross the sky.”
“It is a large one too, it must be carrying a lot of them.”
“It has pretty sails, don’t you think?”
“Come on, it is time.”
“Oh, can’t we just wait a moment longer? I want to be able to see their faces.”
“That is enough of that kind of talk, it is time to concentrate now. You will never make it in our profession if you are too busy watching the victims to put your heart into your song.”
“I am sorry, it’s just so exciting. I can hardly believe that I am finally going to get the chance to put everything that I have learnt from you and the elders into practice. You are such a good teacher that I am sure that I will succeed on my very first attempt. Can you sing first, please? I want to watch.”
“Alright, but pay attention. You still have a lot to learn.”
“Can you use Apollo’s melody today? His is the most beautiful of all.”
“Hush, be quiet. I am going to begin now.”
“The ship is coming closer, I can make them out now. They are all standing on the deck, looking at us. I love it when I can see the wonder on their faces. I think the one in red will dive first, he is looking at us like he has been searching for us all his life. I can tell by the light in his eyes, they all get that light in their eyes before they go. He has made up his mind now, he is standing on the edge. Oh, he looks so handsome with the wind rushing through his dark hair, and his muscles straining against the ones that are trying to hold him back. He is in the air now. He looks so free, like he is flying. His red shirt is rippling in the wind as he falls. He is in the water now, he is swimming towards us. Oh sister, I really think that he might be the one to make it, he is so much stronger and more handsome than the ones who have come before. If he makes it, can he be mine? I will warm him with my songs and feed him the delicious golden apples that grow on our island. No, do not stop singing sister, he will drown if you do! Oh no, the waves are getting bigger now, they are crashing over his head, and making his ebony hair drip down over his shoulders. The freezing, tossing waves are turning his beautiful lips blue. I wish that I could go out there and get him and warm up his lips and pull him into the shore. Why can’t I sister, just this once? No, don’t stop singing, he will drown! His arms are getting weaker now, his strokes are slowing down. The look in his eyes is so desperate, as if he knows what is going to happen to him. I wish I could spare him that, at least. Oh, the sea has swallowed him, the weight of the water is pulling him down to the seabed below. He is fighting it, he has come up again. I can see his head bobbing amongst the waves. Isn’t he brave? No, don’t answer me sister, keep singing! He has sunk again… keep singing sister, and he will resurface!”
“It is finished now. He will not return to the surface. It is over.”
“No, don’t say that! He has not been under too long, he could still make it! Please, sing Apollo’s melody again!”
“That would not help, it is too late. They all succumb to it in the end. It just took this one a little longer than usual, that is all.”
“Why didn’t you tell me it would be like this, why didn’t you warn me? How could you let this happen, time after time? Is this what we train for, for years on end? You have spent hours teaching me the most beautiful melodies ever created. All for this… this horror! Why do we use something so beautiful to kill, and to destroy? Didn’t you see his face? He knew, at the end, that he was going to die! All he wanted was to be closer to the beauty of this place, and we let the music kill him!”
“That was not all he wanted, sister. I know that it is hard to come to terms with at first, and I know what it is like to sometimes feel a connection to them, but this is the way of our world. This is the way it has always been, and always will be for us.”
“It just hurts so much. I really wanted this one to make it.”
“We all want that at some point along the line. You will get over it in time, we all do. Soon they will all blur together, and become one and the same. Then you will not feel sad, and you can concentrate on producing the most beautiful, evocative melody that you possibly can. That is what your job is. That is what you were born to do. It is sad, but that is life, and soon you will see that it can be beautiful too. Come, let us go and wait for him to wash up on the rocks.”
“What about the rest of them?”
“We will leave them for now. You have had enough excitement for one day. They will come back another day, they always do. We will sing to them when they return.”
“Can I sing for the next one?”
“Maybe. We will see. Come. Hurry, or else the mermaids will steal him from the rocks before you can say goodbye. They are very sneaky that way. You are lucky that you were not born to be one of them.”
“I know.”

(I stumbled across this short piece that I wrote for an exercise in a writing workshop a couple of years ago. We had to describe a drowning using only dialogue. It later turned into a story, but this is its 'raw' form. Just felt like putting some writing out there.)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Atwood, Winterson, and Byatt to come... what could be better?

Looks like my summer reading is taken care of... Of course, there's plenty of other things that I need to be reading as well, but Canongate's new myth series is definitely on my Xmas list. I haven't managed to locate Winterson's in the bookshops yet, but Atwood's take on Homer's Odyssey from the perspective of the neglected Penelope looks fantastic. And hey, it makes my masters seem positively trendy...

writing = words = images = sounds = spaces = learning =

I am having a bit of a go at writing a digital narrative at the moment, combining images, words on screen, oral words, movement, music. It ain't easy. It seems to be making all the inherent complications in my usual writing process (words on a page/screen)more... obvious. Which is really interesting. But also difficult. Trying to draw different together in different modes... trying not to think of them as distinct threads while I'm writing, but connected and interwoven... trying not to make it seem too contrived... trying to avoid linearity...
Listening to some spoken word poetry over the past few days has added to the complexity, because I'm more aware of sound and how that can create/add meaning. Too much to grapple with.

I'm probably over thinking it.

Why am I doing this?

Oh, no particular reason...

Monday, November 28, 2005

Spaces (1)

Spaces for professional learning can be hard to come by, and even then they are often subjected to external mandates, guidelines and parameters.

One example of this that I experienced recently was the VIT portfolio process for beginning teachers. I found myself constantly frustrated by the externally imposed measures, proformas and requirements. This was supposed to be about reflection, about thinking and writing about professional identity and learning, and yet the writing that needed to be produced had to be a certain structure, shape… even genre.

On top of this was the added pressure of assessment. I had to produce something that was going to be used to confirm my status as an accepted member of the profession. Suffice to say, moving beyond the mandated parameters of the task- attempting to write on the boundary of something that my school would be happy with, and that I was happy with- was not without risk.

During this experience, and after it, I found myself looking for alternative spaces to write about my teaching and learning. Blogging was one of those spaces. I was resistant to the idea of blogging at first. I read and loitered on the blogs of my friends and colleagues, but was reluctant to begin my own. “Why bother?”, I thought. I have email as a writing space to explore my professional identity. I have a number of communities that I already tap into. With email, I have a relatively captive audience- people who would actually write back (well, it is the polite thing to do). In blogging, there is no guarantee of that. You don’t know who’s reading. You don’t know if anyone is reading.

Blogging seemed to carry a certain degree of risk. It involved stepping out into a newly created digital space and inhabiting it, making it my own. It involved trust- trusting an unknown audience to read, and not to ridicule. Even though I was putting a digital representation of myself out into cyberspace, it also involved a certain amount of secrecy. I chose not to reveal my name, and I only let a few people know about my blog. I was reluctant to let go of at least the illusion of control over my space.

Friday, November 25, 2005

a goosepimply moment while reading on the train...

"A text... with its etymological roots in the Latin 'texere', 'to weave', celebrates a process of becoming."

-Lissa Paul, Reading Other-Ways

Sunday, November 13, 2005

A proud member of 'Generation Lite'

I have been meaning to write this post for some time, and conversations that I have had with a few people over the past week have compelled me to write it somewhere other than in my mind.
The furore surrounding the proposed draft of the VCE English Study design some weeks back and more recently the flare up after the VCE English Exam left me feeling perplexed (ok, maybe completely flabbergasted would be a more appropriate description). There were the predictable missiles fired by the usual neo-liberal suspects that missed the target (see good ol' Kevin's comments in this ridiculous Australian article, and also some ill-considered attacks by others who I feel would probably not want to find themselves in that category (even though their arguments contained very similar, if not identical, rhetoric). Baden Eunson's article is one example of this.

Whenever I read these kinds of arguments filled with all the inflammatory, damning, buzz words- 'crisis', 'the basics', 'dumbing down', 'English lite', 'postmodern pus' (ok, yes, I made that one up) and so on, I become increasingly frustrated as I seek to find a 'way in'. I want to understand the position that the writer has adopted and why. I want to reason with them, to question their understandings in order to question and articulate my own. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to do this because of the assumptions that these arguments are built on. Pull those assumptions away and the entire argument comes tumbling down. Here are a couple of examples of these assumptions:

  • The Basics.
What does this term 'mean' to the people who pepper their writing with it, to the world, to Australia, to communities, to teachers, to students, to me? Is there such a thing? Should the basics be the same thing for everyone? Do we want our students to arrive at the end of their secondary education and say, "well, at least I've learnt the basics"? What are the basics? The 3R's? Grammar, Spelling, Vocab? Are the basics of the 1960's the same basics of the 21st century? Should they be?

  • These basics are not being taught in Victorian/Australian schools.

Well, if the basics that these writers/politicians continuously refer to are spelling, grammatical structures, punctuation and vocabulary (this is what I assume they are referring to based on my interpretation of the gist of their rhetoric), then I can assure them that these concepts are being taught in secondary English classes. This hasn't changed. What has changed since the 1960's is the way that teachers are teaching and students are aquiring these skills. And thank goodness for that. As teachers, we try to cater for the individuals in our classrooms. Of course, reality can never quite match the ideals we aspire to, but this premise still seems to be a good one.Usually, this means that decontextualised spelling lists and grammar exercises (e.g. change the tense of the verb in this sentence about a boy called Dick riding his bicycle to the general store to collect a pint of milk for his dear mother) about topics that a particular student couldn't care less about isn't considered to be the most helpful approach anymore. (Note: this paragraph is based on the assumption that my understanding of 'spelling, grammar, punctuation and vocabulary' is the same as the writers/politicians/researchers I am critiquing. It isn't, but I won't go into that here.)

  • If you can't measure it, bottle it, capture, it, record it... it never happened. In fact, it's completely worthless.

The most frustrating thing about all this is the way that people try to fit a simple template to an incredibly complex and rich process- learning. If we teach X in X way every day for X number of hours then X students will develop X skills to function in X professions. Learning isn't a simple mathematical equation. There are no 'one size fits all' solutions for student learning (and engagement- not that that is worth factoring in here, of course). I find it difficult to understand this desire to simplify and reduce learning communities to banking metaphors- teachers 'depositing' knowledge into students' heads. Why isn't Nelson interested in considering that teachers are professionals who know their students, not mere technicians who can't be trusted to know and understand their students and the communities they work within?

Ugh, I'm sick of this now. Perhaps this isn't an adequate way to argue my point, anyway. Perhaps searching for a 'way in' to this type of reductive thinking- answering back, as it were- only results in defensive arguments, not a powerful and thoughtful exploration of my understanding of learning, engagement and professionalism. Defensive and inadequate arguments are all I seem to have ended up with. I haven't come close to articulating what I really want to write. Perhaps I'm just tired. I'll keep trying though. In other ways, other places, other times.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The beginning of an End, and the beginning of a Beginning...

Just got home after seeing a film with a friend that I haven't seen in ages. The company was good, but the film was a bit of a shocker. It's a pity really, because the visuals on Elizabethtown's home page are fantastic, but when a website turns out to be better than the film it's supposedly advertising.... well...

I'm missing my year 12's. I only have my year 10's left now and they will be finished soon, too. In fact, next week will probably be my last week of 'real' (ie, my own classes) teaching for a while- I am taking first semester off next year. I want to be able to focus entirely on my thesis over the next six months so that I end up with something decent that I don't feel the urge to wrinkle my nose at every time I walk past it sitting on the shelf for the rest of my life. I also need some time away from school in order to patch myself up after these last couple of months. A bit of healing time, and also time to throw myself headlong into a process that is important to me, before I throw myself headlong into teaching full time. It will be good, but I'm going to miss my students and getting excited over lesson planning (piles of corrections...nah, I can live without them for a while).

Watching my year 12's graduate at the Valedictory Dinner left me with a pretty good feeling. I don't think it's a sight that will ever get old, no matter how many times I see it. And I'm only what, 7-8 years older than them or something. You'd think I was their mother! Well, they were my first year 12 class.

Here is a photo of the 'thank you' present they gave me. The little treasures. They know me too well:

Monday, October 31, 2005


I can't write. You may think this is what I'm doing now, but you're wrong. There are words, and then there are words. There are no words for what I want to write about. I have started this post four times already. There are hidden words that no one will ever see.

No, I am not writing now. There are words here that are signifiers for something, but this is not writing. It can't be. I am unable to write.

I have been unable to write for some time now.

I am wondering if/when it will feel alright to write again. If/when the words will being to flow again from the writer/soul. If/when the words will mean/reveal what I/the writer want them to. It is strange to think that I am typing, but not writing. The keys rise and fall and letters/codes appear/burn but there is nothing/everything to be made from this.

I don't want to write. That is why I am not writing now.


For those of you/whoever you are/whatever you are for whom my posts have been a little obscure lately, I lost a very dear friend/colleague of mine in a tragic/terrible/unnecessary/hateful accident 5 1/2 weeks ago. It feels like so much longer than that. My fellow 'inquiring mind' is gone and there is so much that I want to talk to him about.

Now that I have started to type about it there isn't really anything else that I want to say.


Now, you will see that I may start to type again, occasionally, about other things. But don't misunderstand me. I am not writing. Not yet.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

A Nice Moment

On Friday one of my year 10 boys, 'Metallica', knocked on my staffroom door and said,
"Miss nb, I want to take you to lunch."
"Oh really, Metallica? What did you have in mind?"
"I'm making a three course meal for catering and I need someone to eat it."
"Can you cook?"
"Metallica, that sounds like just what I need. Thank you for asking me."
"Okay, cool, I'll come and collect you in about an hour or so."
"I'll be here."

An hour or so later, I sat down at a beautifully presented table and dined my way through a warm and spicy lentil soup (so good- Metallica has promised me the recipe), fettucine carbonara and pancakes topped with strawberries, kiwi fruit and homemade chocolate sauce. Yum.

A colleague of mine was saying the other day that at times like this, the fact that 'life goes on' is both a blessing and a curse. That certainly feels true at the moment.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

This dead flatness

It's not true that I'm always thinking of H. Work and conversation make that impossible. But the times when I'm not are perhaps my worst. For then, although I have forgotten the reason, there is spread over everything a vague sense of wrongness, of something amiss. Like in those dreams where nothing terrible occurs- nothing that would sound even remarkable if you told it at breakfast time- but the atmosphere, the taste, of the whole thing is deadly. So with this. I see the rowan berries reddening and don't know for a moment why they, of all things, should be depressing. I hear a clock strike and some quality it always had before has gone out of sound. What's wrong with the world to make it so flat, shabby, worn-out looking? Then I remember...
Feelings, and feelings, and feelings. Let me try thinking instead... I knew already that these things, and worse, happened daily. I would have said that I had taken them into account. I had been warned- I had warned myself- not to reckon on wordly happiness. We were even promised sufferings. They were part of the programme. We were even told 'Blessed are they that mourn,' and I accepted it. I've got nothing that I hadn't bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not in imagination...

-C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed


I am finding that I can walk into class and laugh when a year 12 kid leaps up from behind his desk, snaps a photo of me mid-teaching, then return to his seat and says, "Sorry- photo for the Valedictory dinner. Carry on, miss".
Then, I wander back into a silent staffroom, and wonder why.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Friday, September 16, 2005

Year 11 Lit Texts

I'm teaching year 11 Literature for the first time next year and I get to choose my own text list (how exciting!). This is what I've (semi)settled on at the moment:

Bush Studies, by Barbara Baynton (lots of interesting possibilities)

A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams (the play and the film- I love it and the kids will love it)

The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde (my colleague taught it this year and the students laughed uproariously all the way through- but that could be because she's really great at the accents)

Songs of Innocence and Experience, by William Blake (interesting comparison possibilities)

The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne (love it- rich in symbolism, fascinating context, all that good stuff)

I'm still playing with a few other things, too, like The Crucible, Lambs of God, The Well, Jane Eyre...

I'm a bit worried that I don't seem to have anything really contemporary, though.

Any suggestions/comments?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Read this. Please.

This is an experiment. I am not necessarily writing what I mean, because I don't know what I mean. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING. I just want to write and see what happens.

I once wrote a poem using one of those 'magnetic poety' sets. I only had about thirty words to choose from. It was about the sea. NOte: there was more text here, but I deleted it.

In the beginning, there was a girl who loved music and drama. She loved low, resonate notes that hung like fog above the ground, not the twinkling high notes that vanished as if they had never been. This was odd because she was a flautist. She wanted to play notes that didn't exist. No one understood that.

She should have played cello.

She performed a monologue that made people cry. 'This is all I want to do,' she thought to herself. 'I want to make emotion leak out of people.'

In the end, the music warbled away. The voice was replaced with black squiggles on a white sea. Or, perhaps the squiggles were really holes, burnt into the page. Spaces one can slip through.

and what is the other option? the imposter cried. and what are the choices? the misfit sighed.

i don't know she whispered. all i can do is keep tripping across the surface and hope i don't fall

and if you do???

there is always another page lying beneath waiting to be read she said and hoped that it was true.

it is true, the misfit said. i have tried to find the end. i have searched for it in

and many other places but i have never reached the end.

it is therefore a reasonable hypothesis to assume that there isn't one, the imposter assented. a never ending DNA strand

it's true, she exclaimed. i can type and type and type and type meaningless squiggles and the pages never end. a fresh one is always waiting even if all i write is

that is because the page doesn't judge you, the misfit smiled, relieved. isn't that nice? the page is open to anything. anything!

mmm, it's the reader you have to worry about, the imposter grumbled. the reader judges every word. and even when they don't know what you mean they assume that they do. they interrogate you, hunt for misplaced squiggles, criticise your shape, doodle on margins and well, all sorts of awful things really.

but worst of all, the misfit whispered, worse even than the interrogating and the hunting and the criticising and the doodling is

is-s wh-what, she stammered.

worst of all is when they walk past without ever glancing at the page. that is the worst thing.

oh. yes.

See? I told you so. Even when I don't mean them to the black squiggles still take on shapes, definitions. Even if I fight against it. But perhaps I don't fight hard enough. I want to be understood. Even when I'm trying to be elusive I still leave enough clues strewn across the space for people to put a picture together. Even if it clashes with the picture in my head. There are still common brushstrokes, similar tints. Tricky, isn't it?

yes, said the misfit

Saturday, September 03, 2005

What is English?

What is English? How do we define it within a shifting and fragmented world?

How do we address the inherent challenges in attempting to avoid definition?

How do we challenge the reductive definitions and control foisted upon us by policy makers and government bodies?

How do we prepare our students to engage critically with a world that won’t stand still?

In a textual world where classics, visuals, voices, games, comics, poems, hypertexts, blogs, ezines, newspapers and cultural trends continue to overlap and merge, leaning on each other for room, how can subject English ever be defined?

Crafty Coetzee

While reading the Review section of The Age this morning and crunching on toast with peanut butter and honey, I discovered that J.M. Coetzee's latest novel, Slow Man, is now on sale. Naturally, that meant I had to dash down to Borders to get it, even though I'm not sure exactly when I'll get to read it.

Coetzee and I have had a bizarre, one-sided love-hate relationship over the last few years. He infuriates me- I hate what he does to his female characters in particular- and yet I am continually drawn to his crisp, precise prose that I could never hope to emulate and don't particularly want to.

The first book of his that I read was Youth. It provoked such a strong reaction from me, to the point where I would feel the need to wash my hands after I had put it down. There were times when I wanted to stab forks through its pages, and other times when I felt like pinning it to the clothesline and watch it slowly succumb to the weather from the relative safety of my bedroom window. And yet, there is a moment in that text that has stayed with me over the years and pops into my mind at odd times when I least expect it. It is the horrific, yet oddly tender reflection from a father on his aborted child:

His thoughts keep going to what was destroyed inside her- that pod of flesh, that rubbery manikin. He sees the little creature flushed down the toilet at the Woodstock house, tumbled through the maze of sewers, tossed out at last into the shallows, blinking in the sudden sun, struggling against the waves that will carry it out into the bay. He did not want it to live and now he does not want it to die. Yet even if he were to run down to the beach, find it, save it from the sea, what would he do with it? Bring it home, keep it warm in cotton wool, try to get it to grow? How can he who is still a child bring up a child?
He is out of his depth. He has barely emerged into the world himself and already he has a death chalked up against him. How many of the other men he sees in the streets carry dead children with them like baby shoes slung around their necks?

Phew. See what I mean?

Slow Man is another experiment in metafiction for Coetzee (a genre that I find fascinating). Apparently, the central character from his last novel, the elderly writer Elizabeth Costello from the novel of the same name (a woman who I wanted to rescue from the very pages that she had been created within- damn Coetzee and his arrogant, assuming treatment of female characters) appears in this new novel, quite unexpectedly, which allows Coetzee to examine the nature of the creative process. ("Postmodern shenanigans" is what one reviewer termed this device). Slow Man is also supposed to continue in the more overtly philosophical vein of his recent books, which I quite enjoy but some reviewers seem to abhor.

There have been a few quite interesting and contradictory reviews published:

Kerryn Goldsworthy for The Age

Sarah Emily Miano for The Times

D J Taylor for The Independent

Robert Macfarlane for the Sunday Times

Looks like it will be an interesting journey...

Sunday, August 21, 2005

The highs make it all worthwhile...

Typing up feedback for my year 12's on their writing folio SAC today has reminded me that I need to remember the wonderful moments that are still happening in my professional life, even when life has become a little tougher than usual.

It is my year 12's personal writing folio pieces in particular that bring this home to me. We don't draft the writing folio pieces at my school (yes, I want to change this, too)but I had some wonderful discussions with my students about their writing process- conversations that have been one of the major highlights in my year. Consequently, their statements of intention (the only thing I'm allowed to look at and discuss with them) are works of art that convey to me the students' level of engagement in their writing and the fruit that has come from our discussions as my students have experimented and succeeded with interesting structures and complex imagery and symbols. It will be interesting to see how my students' statements are received during crossmark tomorrow, as they are quite a bit longer and more detailed than usual. Then, there are the pieces themselves...

H's piece, for example, who has reflected on an important family tradition- the making of the Christmas pudding. Her narrative begins with an image of a tattered scrap of paper, bearing the precious recipe, on a ship bound from Ireland six generations ago. Her descriptions of the present family festivities are connected with the voice of her grandmother, the family figurehead, with snippets of the recipe to show the passing of time. I love the image she creates of her grandmother and great aunt, as children, leaping up to tap the puddings while they bob gently to and fro in the laundry. H is my patriot- her notion of 'Australianness' oozes from her writing- the love of the bush, Banjo, Lawson and brumbies that she has inherited from her father.

Then there is D, my scruffy little soccer player, who writes the most beautiful, evocative prose that you would never expect to come out of this quiet, but cheeky boy (I wish I could write like him). Until this year, he has gotten C's in English, which flabbergasted me until he explained, "I just never tried before now, Miss". I can't understand how he has managed to hide his lovely prose, though. He writes about sky diving- the rush that allows him to break free and reflect on his day to day existence.

L is a wonderful percussionist, one of the best in the state for his age, and of course writes about his love for music in his writing folio. He begins with a series of drumming terms, syncopated and scattered across the page, before describing his love for music. He uses the metaphor of a small child, that he must nuture and care for, feed with hours of practice, commitment and responsibility to allow it to grow. It is his best piece for the year, because he is writing about his passion, and I have enjoyed talking about music and this piece of writing with him.

J is intense, a scientist, who stresses over calculating enter scores and wanting to get everything 'right'. Her descriptions of the rural university that she longs to go to is juxtaposed with what she sees as the cold architecture and bustling hub of Melbourne that could steal her away from her roots. Love and respect for the rural landscape comes across in many of my students' writing. I have always loved the city, but I occasionally envy the memories and experiences many of my students have of waking up to the sound of kookaburras and looking out the bedroom window to see gently rolling hills.

K spontaneously hugs me after every sac result she gets back, grateful for C+'s. She struggles to fit her ideas and words into a tightly structured text response essay. She has written a lovely narrative, though, describing her relationship with her art teacher, her mentor, and reflects on the way in which 'stray paint drops' can allow her to create and explore her own identity. This has been a particular triumph.

There are many other students, of course, too many to describe in this space. I need to make sure that I don't forget that they are the real reason why I teach, they are ones that I really want to spend time with each day (well, most of the time). I don't know why my short career still seems to consist of these perilous lows and exultant highs- never anything in between. It's kind of exhausting! It seems to match my interior- I think that I mostly come across as fairly calm and placid, but that really only hides the turbulence within. Still, as long as I keep having these highs, then I think I must be doing okay. At least I know I teach the most wonderful students in the world (and don't even think about arguing with me).

Saturday, August 13, 2005

What kind of girl am I?

Of course, no one can really define me through the use of a quiz (or anything, really). But, if there's anyone out there who wants to cook me dinner, perhaps they should visit this site!

What is your world view?

You scored as Postmodernist. Postmodernism is the belief in complete open interpretation. You see the universe as a collection of information with varying ways of putting it together. There is no absolute truth for you; even the most hardened facts are open to interpretation. Meaning relies on context and even the language you use to describe things should be subject to analysis.



Cultural Creative














What is Your World View? (updated)
created with

Sunday, August 07, 2005


If only Howard and Bush had inquiring minds...

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Inquiring Minds

I'm about to solve all the problems of the world in a single blog. Or, at least, I will start to make sense of some of mine, and hopefully those of a few others, as well.

I've been trying to figure out for ages how to 'create' the professional environment that I want to work in. I have a few 'strategies' that I am working away at, but it's not easy. I have often felt frustrated by the way that I can experience a few wonderful, fulfilling professional relationships and still not feel like that is enough, because I want everyone to experience these kinds of relationships.

Driving home from MU yesterday, I figured out what the 'common denominator' is in the fulfilling professional relationships I have, and the mysterious absence in all the other collegial relationships that I want to develop further. Are you ready for this? It's a real doozy... The answer is:

A shared love of inquiry

That's it! Saw open everyone's skulls and pour in a splash of inquiry, and the world would suddenly be a better place.

I've come up with a list of factors that are particular to these 'relationships of inquiry', based on my relationship with my year 12 partner:

1. A willingness to listen,
2. The confidence to admit one's own weaknesses and gaps in knowledge,
3. A willingness to share your ideas and understandings
4. Having confidence in the other member(s) to question and think critically about what you have to offer,
5. A willingness to question and be critical of your own practices,
6. Having confidence in each other (and giving each other the occasional supportive pat on the back)
7. A desire to learn,
8. A desire to learn together,
9. An ongoing collaborative process that you reflect on together from time to time, to see what good things are springing from it, and,
10. TIME to talk with each other.

So, that's my preliminary definition of a relationship of inquiry, collaborative inquiry, or whatever you choose to name it. That's all you need, really. It's not about agreeing about everything, or even necessarily having a similar perspective- my colleague and I certainly don't agree about everything, but we agree about enough things- the shape of our learning processes being at the top of the list. It's only a very rough first draft- I'll probably add to it and refine it over time. I'd be keen to hear what others out there think of it.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Mis(s) adventures in the Maccas drive thru...

Driving home from parent-teacher interviews and feeling a bit peckish, I decided to detour via the local macca's drive thru...

Cashier: Hi, what can I get you?

NB: A cheeseburger happy meal, thanks.

Cashier: Would you like a boy's toy or a girl's toy with that?

NB: (silently thinking) Oh... my... god... She's joking, right? What century are we living in? Post feminism era, gender equity... and good old maccas still thinks that it's ok to have separate toys for boys and girls. Why not ask me if I want a skateboard or a pony? But a boy's toy or a girl's toy? And I suppose it's not difficult to guess which one would be pink and which one's blue... I can't wait to tell my year 10's when I see them next- they've been discussing binary oppositions and stereotypical representations of masculinity and femininity. They'll be outraged...

(after a definite pause)

NB: (aloud, with a nonchalant wave of her hand) Whatever.

(The cashier hands her the girl's toy- a stuffed pony.)

* * *

Then, to add insult to injury, I stop at traffic lights and a dimmy van full of confident young lads decide that they need to roll down the window and wink and wolf whistle at me to prove how masculine they are. I won't tell you what I felt like telling them they could do with their 'boy toys'...

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Thought for the day?

"We don't know what women's vision is. What do women's eyes see? How do they carve, invent, decipher the world? I don't know. I know my own vision, the vision of one woman, but the world seen through the eyes of others? I only know what men's eyes see."

-Vivianne Forrester (What Women's Eyes See)

At the moment, I'm not even sure I know my own vision...

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Just in case it wasn't already obvious that the country is going mad...

This little pig goes post modernist

Fading theory has no place in schools

Words without meaning

States deconstruct postmodern trend

Minister plays down postmodernist role in schools

Kevin Donnelly: Teach the simple joys of reading

Derided theory a headline act

Luke Slattery: Put literacy before 'radical' vanity

I'll let this rot dig its own grave... for now...

Factors, Determinants

Hmmm... determinants... factors...

My grandfather passed away on early Thursday morning. There is so much to say that I will not say here. On Wednesday night, I drove with my parents and sister to 'country town' to sit with my nan and aunty and watch him gasp for breath, unconscious, in a hospital bed. At midnight, Mum, H and I whispered words in his ear and left to drive back home, leaving Dad behind to stay with his mum and sister. Pa left this Earth an hour later, much quicker than we expected.

Thursday morning, I went to school. I didn't know what else to do. I discussed with my year 12's the beliefs that colonising countries must hold in order to choose to engulf another nation, amongst other things... Iraq... Australia... America... Vietnam... The belief that there is only one god... the belief that there is a 'right way'... the belief that 'the end justifies the means'... rights... duties... responsibilities... communism... democracy.... capitalism...

In the staffroom, I was feeling antagonistic when a staff member barged in looking for coffee, mumbling something about 'these postmodern kids who think they can make their own rules and believe anything they want'. I fired up, when normally I would let it go, asked him what he meant by postmodernism first of all (didn't really wait for a response- wasn't expecting a decent one), and then commented that, if anything, most of our kids are being conditioned to be traditional realists, especially in the classroom. He countered, "well, isn't that what you would expect in a Christian school?" Well no, I wouldn't, not in any school, which is why I've found the online discussions that I've been having with my year 10's in relation to postmodernism and reader response theory so 'empowering' (to use that icky word) for me, and hopefully for them. He left with his coffee and I turned to my friend and we discussed our understanding of postmodernism until we were both relatively satisfied and then discussed our dialogue and why inquiring minds seem rare to us at the moment. Then, I drove back to 'country town'.

I sat around the dinner table with my family and extended family and we pooled our thoughts and feelings to form a collective memory of my grandfather. We sobbed together- my mum has a way of getting emotional out-pourings happening. That is a part of me, and that night I heard stories that are also part of me, some which I can't recollect ever passing my ears before, others that sparked and merged with fragmented scraps of memories in my own mind, and some that came from my lips. I heard for the first time about how my pa built his own speakers for a stereo when they had just become affordable (some time before ipods, I presume). He slaved over them for weeks, planing the wooden boxes until they were perfectly smooth, varnishing them and finally setting up, impatiently, on the stove for goodness sake, blasting jazz through the kitchen. This memory was from my father's eyes when he was still a boy, beginning for him an interest in electronics, and music. This memory has shaped me, even though I never heard it before last night, because it shaped my dad, and reminds me of the perfectionist tendencies that ran through my pa, run through my dad, and run through me.

So... yeah. Individual? Family? School? Community? Society? I can't see the lines anymore.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

I'll start again tomorrow

I'm depressed.

I had a wonderful lesson with my year 10's today- making short animated films in groups in order to 'add' scenes to Act One of Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet'. I used a really simple (and really fun) online program found at dfilm to do the activity, and it only took one lesson. The students were engaged and motivated for the entire 75 minutes- smiling and laughing faces everywhere I looked- they worked together, experimented with Shakespearian language and imagery, talked and thought about the characters, found places in the text that could be developed further (a conversation b/w Romeo and Rosaline was a popular choice)... They emailed their films to me and I uploaded them to our class intranet site.

On Monday, I had a wonderful conversation with my head of faculty over coffee about 'the possibilities' for developing productive and ongoing dialogue between members of my faculty about critical literacy and our practices. We were both excited, eager to get some ideas underway. It is a conversation that I will remember for quite some time, to conjure in my mind whenever things at school are not going well.

Despite these wonderful moments, I'm still depressed.

I just arrived home from an English faculty meeting. We had eight staff present (out of 20). All absenteees due to quite understandable reasons and commitments. We began the meeting with lap tops plugged in while the IT people showed us how to use a new markbook feature. It took ages and there were only eight of us. Due to the time devoted to that, and the fact that so few were present, most of the rest of the agenda seemed better off put aside for another time. It's no one's fault. Mark book is important- it saves teachers valuable time for when they could be doing more important things. I was going to share the work that my students were producing on my new discussion board. We were going to talk about what transpired at the VATE conference. We were going to discuss critical literacy and ways to teach text response. We were going to discuss ideas for next year's book list. It will be very difficult to schedule another meeting- this term is impossible.

It can be difficult to maintain my enthusiasm when reality keeps dampening it. I'm not going to give up, though. I'll be depressed tonight, and start again tomorrow.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Dear Dr Rowe,

I was at the VATE conference today and I heard you speak about your take on the effect of teachers on student learning. I must admit, I sat down at a round table not quite knowing what to expect, even though I had heard plenty about you and even skimmed through a paper or two. I thought that I would take the time to write you a letter, to say what I could not articulate at the time, to try to recreate those minutes that seemed to pass me by in a haze of gesticulating fingers, violently red skin, and strident masculinity, and to tell you what I think about it all, because I know that you're there, waiting, listening, thinking.

Before I go on, I should pause to tell you that you shocked me. Oh, I knew beforehand that you existed- I had seen your voice in newspapers, policy documents and some research publications- but it was quite a different experience to see you in the flesh, so to speak, to hear your confident, vociferous voice. A pumpkin, rather than a pimple. And only a few metres away! You shocked me, because I suddenly had to face the fact that you were 'real' and not just a theoretical position that I can't imagine ever wanting to claim. You were no longer simply rhetoric, yet in a strange way, that's all you were.

As I drove home afterwards, the question that I wanted to put to you began to take shape in my mind. I'm like that, you see, I tend to like to process things, before responding to them. Sometimes, that can be unfortunate, and to my detriment, but most of the time it feels like the right course of action. Anyway,

you spoke about visiting schools for research purposes-
I conjured up an image of you
getting your hands dirty,
amongst the fray,
part of the action,
in your face,
a piece of the furniture,
a white (or angry red) elephant.

You said that you speak to the students,
because they tell you how it is,
what it's really like,
airing the dirty laundry,
the true reality.

You don't speak to the teachers, because they
paint a rosy picture
ignore the white elephant
try to shove postmodernism through your navel
(and many other crevices, I'm sure- a painful business)
and, last but not least,

It made me wonder, Dr Rowe, whether you thought the teachers at the VATE forum TOLD YOU WHAT YOU WANTED TO HEAR. Oops, I've left out the question mark. I guess I'm not expecting an answer, but feel free to give one if you're out there somewhere in WWW land.

I'll let you speak.

Yours sincerely,


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Thought for the day

Thinking isn't agreeing or disagreeing. That's voting.

-Robert Frost

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Harry Potter

I am writing this with my year 12 English students spread before me, as they silently search for the words to communicate their experiences to their chosen 'audience'. I am really looking forward to reading their finished pieces, as I have enjoyed being part of their writing processes over the last couple of weeks. Very cheeky of me to be blogging while they are doing a sac, but oh well.

My week has been punctuated by the arrival of the latest Harry Potter installment. Yes, I was one of those muggles standing in line at 9:00 am on Saturday morning waiting for my pre-ordered copy (and not forgetting my free broomstick, of course). Harry Potter has played an interesting role in the development of my relationships with some of my students. I have this fantastic Harry Potter pencil tin, which travels to all of my classes with me. It is particularly helpful when I have to take an extra- there always seem to be a couple of students in each class who are prompted by the presence of my magic pencil tin to begin a discussion about Harry with me, or just reading in general. Of course, there are probably some students who think that I'm mad, too, but that doesn't concern me.

It was fantastic to arrive at school on Monday morning and be sought out by some of my year 10's and even a few of my year 12's, asking eagerly whether I had finished Harry yet, and what I thought about it. At the beginning of my lesson with my year 10's, one of my students begged me to ban talk of Harry until she had finished reading it. I told her to let me know when she had finished it, and she replied, "Oooh, good, I'll be looking for someone to have an in-depth conversation with about it". Now, if that doesn't make a teacher feel good, I don't know what does (it certainly does it for me).

It's always interesting to think about why a children's book about wizards can create so much furore and excitement around the world. The cynics may argue that the real attraction is the result of a very clever marketing machine- but I find that response very unsatisfactory, and simplistic. When you have a text that has parents lining up to buy it and read it with their kids, a text that shows that any divisions between 'good' and 'evil' are never clear-cut, a text that provides a 'way in' to issues like genocide, racism, power, morality, etc, then I think we should be celebrating it, not bemoaning the fact everyone who reads it must have been 'sucked in', rather than simply enjoying an interesting text.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Post-AATE Conference, #2

I guess that I might as well work my way through some of the 'sessions' that I attended, for want of a better way to structure my reflections.

One of the first workshops that I went to was entitled 'Approaches to texts in writing classes: different directions for English?' led by David Homer and Claire Woods. They shared some of the work they were doing with their writing students in the Professional and Creative Communication program at the University of South Australia. I'm not entirely sure how 'different' these directions really were, at least for secondary English/literature, but I did engage with the way that they encouraged students to interact with texts from a writer's perspective, rather than simply (well, simply is probably the wrong word) as a reader. The way that they described it was "reading with a writer's eye"- using imagination as a critical tool through re-writing, re-visioning, etc, and "writing into the text rather than about the text". This can result in blurring (and challenging) discourses, including the good ol' generic essay response- one of the reasons why I found the possibility of 'playing' with form and genre in 'assignments' for English Method at Monash during my Dip Ed year so refreshing.

One of the activities that we got to have a go at in the workshop was a 'creative response' to William Carlos Williams' poem 'This is just to say'. The presenters described how some of their students had responded to the poem in a dynamic way using sticky notes to represent a conversation between two people on the door of the fridge. My response wasn't so intriguing (but I did only have five minutes):

This is just to say
I left the plums
in the ice box
for you-

A juicy treat
to sweeten
the sting
of my betrayal.

The cool purple orbs
were from the

My lover.

You are forgiven.
Do you forgive me?

I like it how you can find five minutes in the middle of a conference to write a poem that makes you smile to yourself (and at William Carlos Williams).

Post-AATE Conference, #1

This is the first in a series of blogs (hopefully, if I stay motivated and time efficient) detailing my musings about the AATE conference. This first one was actually written a few days ago...

I thought that I would take some time to get some thoughts together while I’m stuck at Coolangatta airport waiting for my flight back to Melbourne. The conference has raised some really interesting questions for me, and also helped to crystallize my growing realization that I am in a position where I can affect change in my school, and I can’t complain about my situation if I’m not taking responsibility for it.

One of the things that I found most interesting was the way that a number of presenters and participants over the few days spoke as if we all have critical literacy under our belts now, that we are all traveling along just fine, everyone knows about it, everyone can do it, and now it’s time to examine the ‘fall out’ as it were, and decide where we are heading next. Perhaps it was because of the audience- people who want to spend four days at a conference on their holidays can perhaps be expected to be interested and on the ball in other areas of their practice, although this is probably a generalization. Perhaps it was because of the setting- the Queensland education authorities have effectively mandated the ‘teaching’ of critical literacy in schools, something that is not the case in Victoria. I think that there is so much that my school can still do in this area, and I can already see the benefits and effect this approach has had in my classes this year since it has risen to become one of my main focuses in my teaching, or rather, since it has become a more explicit focus for me than it was last year.

I think I’m going to ask my head of faculty if I can try and form a working party, or inquiry group, to find ways of getting staff to feel more comfortable about trying this in their classrooms, and develop an understanding of what it’s all about, and why it’s important. Hmm… stay tuned…

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

AATE Conference

I haven't posted for a while but I have been head down into my masters (and a few other things)and haven't given it a thought. I will get better at this- in time.
I fly out tomorrow to attend the AATE conference in Queensland (after a spot of beach combing and writing). I'll blog all about it when I return in about a week (I promise).

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The French Lieutenant's Woman

The French Lieutenant's Woman

I have decided that I can use this blog to also write about my Masters research, since this is an important aspect of my ‘teaching identity’, anyway. I am currently in the process of completing a Master of Arts (Creative Writing) at Monash University. It will be interesting to see if blogging about my masters begins to shape my writing process in any way.

Until now, I have held my cards pretty close to my chest in relation to my Masters- I don’t like to talk about it much, with people other than ‘kindred spirits’ anyway, because any discussion ends up feeling quite inadequate:

“So, you’re doing a masters, wow, that must be a lot of work. How many classes do you have to go to? None? Oh, good, that’s not too bad then. And half of your thesis is fiction? So you just have to write a few stories? Cool! So what’s your thesis about, anyway?”

And that’s when I have to draw a deep breath and try to ‘sum up’ in a concise and effective manner two years of research and writing. It always ends up sounding, to my ears at least, kind of lame and inadequate even though I know that it’s not that at all. I really hate the question, “What is your Masters about?” And yet, I still ask other people who I know are studying similar questions. I should know better.

Anyway, I’m just about to start reading The French Lieutenant’s Woman, by John Fowles. Has anyone read it? According to my masters supervisor it’s a travesty that I haven’t read it before now. I was urged to read it by two different people, in two different conversations, for two completely different reasons, so I guess I’d better get on with it! One of them was my supervisor, Chandani Lokuge, and the other the brilliant Jennifer Strauss.

One of my stories centres around the image of a woman looking out to sea (three women, actually, for different reasons) which is of course the central image in Fowles’ novel. The image took flight in my story quite serendipitously, which is always interesting, but has therefore added to my reading list! John Fowles has described the way that his novel ‘grew’ around this image:

“The novel I am writing at the moment… started four or five months ago with a visual image. A woman stands at the end of a deserted quay and stares out to sea. That was all. This image rose in my mind one morning when I was still half-asleep… The woman had no face, no particular degree of sexuality. But she was Victorian; and since I always saw her in the same static long shot, with her back turned, she represented a reproach to the Victorian age. An outcast. I didn’t know her crime, but I wished to protect her. That is, I began to fall in love with her.”

-“Notes on an Unfinished Novel”, John Fowles

Ooh, now I’m intrigued. I’d better start reading. The opening chapter bodes well:

“But where the telescopist would have been at sea himself was with the other figure on that sombre, curving mole. It stood right at the seawardmost end, apparently leaning against an old cannon-barrel up-ended as a bollard. Its clothes were black. The wind moved them, but the figure stood motionless, staring, staring out to sea, more like a living memorial to the drowned, a figure from myth, than any fragment of the petty provincial day…”

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Pre-VIT Outfit

Another reason for starting this blog relates to 'the circle' of fellow bloggers as specified in my links bar. These colleagues of mine are other early career teachers, in other schools in Victoria, who have been blogging about their teaching experiences for a while now, and, well, I didn't want to miss out any more!

Apart from being another type of learning community that I can now be involved in, who knows where else this could lead? We could be on the brink of starting a minor revolution in the English teaching profession! (Hey, I'm allowed to dream, right?) SB, M and Darce are writing some amazing, thought-provoking stuff that isn't just benefitting them, but also their readers, and hopefully we can find some ways of getting that readership to grow- an anonymous and mysterious note in a VATE newsletter, SB??

I've been doing some reading about the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood lately, and, I must say, I find the parallels between the PRB and 'the circle' to be quite uncanny! The PRB came about because a group of young artists were dissatisfied by the state of the artistic community at the time, particularly in the artistic schools where they studied. As they saw it, Art was being taught in too rigid and stylised a manner, with no scope for individual expression or original ideas. Lucinda Hawksley (2004) writes that they "also objected strongly to the use of boring, sombre colour palettes. They wanted to paint vibrantly coloured works that would mean something to the viewer, subjects that would provoke the imagination and cause discussion". Hmm... Interesting...

The group basically pinned the blame on Raphael for the rigid codes that existed at the time within the British artistic establishment (hence their name). The PRB were also well practiced in subversion, and signed each work of art with the letters 'PRB". No one knew what it meant, until good old Dante Rossetti shot his mouth off and let the cat out of the bag. Suffice to say that the rest of the art community were scandalised, and that's when the persecution of the PRB began. Oh d-d-dear, perhaps it's not such a good analogy!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

An Identity Of One's Own

Why am I doing this? Why have I finally given in, after resisting for so long?

I have been fighting the urge to begin a ‘blog of my very own’ for some time now. I will be using this blog to ‘reflect’ on my experiences as an early career teacher, but I have already managed to carve out a number of places for me to reflect on and learn from my teaching experiences. In fact, I would go so far to say that if there is one thing that I have actually managed to succeed at since I started my career as an English teacher last year, it’s reflection! So, the question remains… why start this blog??

Well, I attended a lecture at Monash Uni the other day with a good friend of mine (SB) about blogs, and it got me thinking. One of the points that the visiting lecturer, James Farmer, raised was in relation to the notion of ‘identity’, or ‘digital identity’ to be precise. He said that blogs allow individuals greater control over presenting (and developing, I guess) an identity online than, say, a bulletin or discussion board. In some ways, this sense of autonomy seems quite superficial, like choosing a template, or an image, that represents ‘you’. (With a list of 15 or so templates to choose from this seems to be about as accurate a way of representing yourself as referring to your star sign, unless you’re a html guru, but whatever). Anyway, I thought it would be an interesting experiment to see how I would go about presenting my own identity ‘online’. I guess the process has already started- I certainly spent a lot of time agonising over what I was going to write about in my first post! After all, it may suggest some sense of direction that this blog might take, and besides, first impressions do matter to some! Of course, one of the most interesting things about ‘digital publishing’ (to me, at least) is that the author can modify, delete, or rewrite a post at any time, even after the reader has had an opportunity to interact with it. At the very least, this seems to suggest that any creation of an ‘identity’ on this digital page will be tentative, at best, and perhaps fleeting. This could be interesting…

So, the first decision that I had to make when I constructed this blog was to decide what to call it (after selecting my favourite template, of course, which I can change at any time, apparently). A title… something at least remotely relevant… something pithy… catchy… something that ‘represents’ me… and so, after much deliberation, I settled on…

‘An Identity of One’s Own’

Catchy? Maybe not. ‘Pithy’, yes… at least to me. As an early career teacher I’ve been preoccupied with trying to figure out what my ‘teaching identity’ actually is, and what I want it to be, and this blog will be yet another way for me to attempt to reach some understandings about that. My ‘own’ identity is important to stress, as last year I went through the process of having an identity foisted upon me by the VIT (Victorian Institute of Teaching). So this blog will also function as an attempt to ‘subvert’ the notion of identity as understood by the VIT.

So yeah, I think the title is appropriate (a thinly veiled reference to Virginia Woolf never goes astray, either). There are some tensions there, too- an identity vs. multiple identities, for instance- but that’s okay, tensions are what keep things interesting.

Don’t get too attached to the title, though… it could change at any time!

Okay, that’s it for now… first post down… how many to go?

How am I doing so far?!