The Camel is a Phoenix

This is the straw that has broken the camel’s back [idiom/proverb]:

a candidate that has written how Priestley used ‘powerful adjectives’ to describe Mrs Birling with the example she is presented as a ‘cold woman’.

Cold is an adjective in this instance, but I am not particularly interested in this fact. I do not see it as ‘powerful’, but this is neither here nor there in this context.

The candidate does offer a synonym for this expression which is ‘heartless’, and we are getting there. Eventually. After a terminal detour to the terminology terminus [repetition/hyperbole/linguistic ostentation].

What is meant by this? Is she emotionless/without emotion and/or feelings? Is she indifferent? Is she bitter? Is she devoid of empathy? Is she pitiless? Is she callous [getting more interesting: can you be indifferent and callous…].

The question we don’t ask is, is she an adjective?

One would imagine it should be a proliferation of references to subject terminology that has prompted this ire – and there has been bucket-loads of this, held under the drooling cesspit of the lexicon of linguistic naming before being tipped and dumped back – but it is this singular corruption of making a simple point by complicating with a cold naming that has so upset me.


What have we done to our students?

All those [even well-meaning] zealots of the Literacy Strategy as well as the obvious likes of Nick Gibb and Michael Gove [and all their lineage of precursor pedants] who insisted that students could only understand Writing – to read it and write it – by knowing the nuts and bolts of its workings, should be ashamed of themselves.

And teachers. Why would teachers guide their students to address detail about mood and tone and opinion by first labelling any of these references as a grammatical entity? I have also just read a student begin each paragraph of a response to poetry with a specific grammatical reference to how each poet has reflected on the theme of, in this case, War.

Like Mrs Birling, will those responsible for this deny their shameful responsibility for this lunacy of naming first and foremost?

The Literacy Strategy and KS2 SPaG and GPS:

to know it religiously;

to be tested on it discreetly;

to be sucked dry of genuine appreciation by the vacuum of its identifying.

This verbiage of mine?

Yes, an uncontrollable backlash.

The camel rising like a Phoenix [mixed metaphor].



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