So here it restarts…
Having been promoted to a school leader, I want to try to consolidate all my learning and musings on teaching, learning and leadership in one place.
There is so much to do this year and I have read/condensed and thought so much that I need to sort through and organise some of those thoughts and ideas.
Here then is a space for reflection and evaluation. A space to gather and reflect on all the great current writers on pedagogy and a place to document the journey.
I don’t know where I’m going, but I hope to look back and see the place I was.
I didn`t expect this novel. When I heard the word Solzhenitsen,I have always expected heavy introspection and connections with the vastness of Russia and its ways. This book is the opposite. Its focus is one day in the life of a gulag prisoner; a gulag is a Siberian camp for those who have offended the state in some way. The book details the day from waking,working and supper through to the final minutes before bed.
The cold is everywhere. From the stretched icy cobwebs on the inside of the room when Ivan wakes, to the ice that freezes the mortar,hot from the concrete mixer to the detailed discussion of boots, we freeze with him. It is a harsh world where men only survive through alliances and services. Here the qualities of unselfishness and thought about one`s fellow man are even more productive than in the modern world. The team leader is vital: he protects and watches for the team. He fights for the right to work on a building site with some cover and the odd scrap of wood or metal to be made into something else. The focus on essentials is such a lesson to the modern reader: bread is measured out in grams; the hot water that passes for soup; the pinches of tobacco which are eagerly passed about and the lack of basic sustenance that we throw away every day.
The lessons are everywhere, and it is this reflection which creates the magic of the novel. I shall never complain about the cold or what I have to eat again, never.
Despite many recommendations, I had never read this book before. I finished it last night, and found it alternately compelling and inspiring. For any type of novel, Golding’s grasp of foreshadowing and understanding of human nature is utterly thrilling. I was scared last night; scared, not of the external beasts that go bump in the night, but of inherent evil, violence and the way a pack behaves when rules and individualism are stripped away.
It starts innocuously enough with a tale of shipwreck and a group of boys. How innocent that first sentence sounds, but as the disappearences and the battle for hierarchy take over, the book descends into anarchy and danger. Reading this was much like I imagine playing Russian roulette would be; a dichotomy between the ultimate sign which releases tension and the eternal build up to it.
Only 12 chapters, it only took me a couple of hours, but the shivery ramifications of the struggle between Jack Meridew and Ralph will stay with me much, much longer than that.
I don’t read enough, and I certainly don’t read enough of the ‘right stuff.’ As an English teacher, and one who takes my vocation (yes, I did use that word) seriously, I believe I need to stay one step ahead, and to remind myself of the wonderful ways authors manage to manipulate words.
So here, I start with a blank page, a subscription to Goodreads, and lots of lists. The first one is coming up. I hope you enjoy, but even if no one ever reads this little post of the internet, it is my corner with my personal memories of the books that I read.