calculated indefatigable and tentatively illimitable naïveté …



How do courses start for a teacher?   We have a syllabus or specification which is often little more than a list of topics.   All a medium-term plan should be is a matching of those topics against dates and the curriculum time you have to teach the course, when coursework and exams are, and what overall resources you have to meet them.

The medium-term plan could comprise the ‘menu’ for a course, written in Powerpoint perhaps, it need only have the list of Syllabus Objectives to cover, some dates / lesson-apportioning, assessment tasks if needed and a fundamental layout of the Facts of the Syllabus Objects (the Knowledge), the Concept of the SO (Undertsanding) and the Issue of the SO (Evaluation).   What else would it need other than the actual details of weaving them into individual lessons?   Each Syllabus Objective in the MTP could have a link to its own individual lesson …

constructalesson I

… a template which gives the ‘layout’ of a lesson in the form of key ‘construction’ questions which work from the Title/LO/starter >>> ALL-task >>> the MOST-task >>> SOME-task >>> Plenary.   This would supply the whole lesson, constructed from the start to the height develop-able, all on one slide viewable for most of the lesson.   If the purpose of the lesson is clear and stimulating from the Title/LO/starter, and the development of the learning is integrated and mapped out before them, theoretically there is no excuse for the pupil not to WANT to progress through it – unless they are pathological.   Pupils would work through this lesson as fast as they are motivated and as far as they can.   The Title/LO/starter, the ALL-task, the MOST-task, the SOME-task can each have their links to stimulus resources (although I wonder if only the Title/LO/starter would need this if the succeeding questions are clear enough).

So, for the teacher, how do you construct a lesson from scratch?

Why construct it from scratch, why not use the textbook and the questions, why not use the lessons already constructed? Because lessons from textbooks mostly do not, or lessons written before do not necessarily, follow a cognitive development pattern – therefore delivering them can be meandering.   Because even if they are cognitively-constructed their breakdown-analysis has been done by someone else and therefore the way to integrate may be awkward to you – the teacher – to take pupils through it.

Is it from scratch?   No, actually, you would have the ingredients of the LO (from the syllabus/course…) and any resources already owned.   The construction will be purely analytical at this stage.   Take the LO and ask ‘what is it?’.   Write down the answer – this will be the definition, basic or complicated, according to the level of study.   This will also comprise the ‘U’ objective of the lesson.   Then take the definition and break it down by asking the question ‘what are the components/parts of the topic?’.   Note down the components, this will comprise the ‘K’ objective of the lesson.   Then return to the Understanding Objective and ‘open’ it out by testing its definition respectively – improve, what if, solve, devise, revise, expand, rewrite, compose, synthesize, theorise, integrate, project, invent, modify, develop, conclude, critique, judge, weigh, evaluate?   Note down the issue(s).   This will comprise the ‘E’ part of the lesson.

constructalesson II

This leaves you with the elements / raw ingredients: the LO, the concept (U), the knowledge (K), the issue (E).   Then you need to plot the way to ‘cook’ the ingredients – put the elements into a provocative, stepped learn.

First you need to provoke the learning: headline the topic, plot their co-ordinates and start the enquiry.   You need to take the title as the ‘window’, as the ‘view’ (within the whole of all knowable things in the universe, or even within the syllabus/subject/course being studied) through which is de-fined the Particular that will be concentrated on for this lesson.   But we still have a large ‘area’ to navigate through, so we need a Title to tell us what it is we are looking at through this window (… telescope?); the LO is the co-ordinate of the topic.   Then we need a starter.   Why do we need a starter?   Because we need to provoke the impetus to find out, provide the motivation to learn.   We need to present a ‘snapshot’ of the topic which shows why it is important (to know about it), a snapshot which shows both the function (K & U) and which opens the conjecture (analysis, evaluation, issues, E) on the topic.   There are various ways this could be achieved – show the end result, use juxtaposition, picture & question, demonstration, theatre, role reaction, video clip …   These elements/raw ingredients are not so distinct as their listing suggests, they work together to introduce the lesson, they are integrated: the opening shot of the film-with-title, the riff and beat of the song, the setting of the joke.   The result of the LO/title/starter is a stimulus to learn: they should leave in the pupil the impetus to want to find out, it should provoke curiosity.

This initial analysis is brief – ‘what is it?’ >>> ‘how can I show it/demonstrate it?’ – and if we know our subject we can ask and answer those questions within a minute.

constructalesson III

To recap and then complete:
1: SO (from the syllabus); ask ‘what is it?’, the answer provides the key concept to be understood (U) of the lesson
2: of the concept to be understood (U) ask, ‘what is it called?’ (answer = title, will mostly be the same as the Syllabus Objective), then ‘what does it ‘do’?’ (answer = Learning Objective for the lesson), then show it (U) (= starter).   This is the spine of your lesson.
3: ask of U/LO ‘what are the parts (that work together)?’ (answer = the facts of the lesson), then ‘how are the parts related (connected) to work together?’ (answer = the patterns/arrangement of the facts).   This comprises the Knowledge base (K), the access point to the lesson for pupils
4: ask of U/LO ‘does it work well?’, ‘can (and should) it work alternatively?’; these questions (not their answers) provide the springboard for the evaluative part of the lesson (E)

constructalesson IV

So the lesson happens – hopefully well, constructively and different pupils of the class having worked through as far as they can, then …

constructalesson V

… and especially if the lesson has studied well, have a good, whole-class exploration of …

constructalesson VI

… responses to provocative questions and ‘what if’s such that EVERY pupil should be able to contribute because they have just studied it

This is how pupils will experience your constructed lesson: the title and LO will locate them, the starter will pique them, the K task will find and then sort the facts, the U task will require them to explain how the facts work, the E task will get them to test if they work well, the Plenary will allow them to sit back and survey the big picture.

constructalesson VII

Here is a suggestion of a lesson format that could be used for a constructed lesson

constructalesson VIII



evaluation & knowledge & learning & teaching craft & understanding wormhole: the Telescope







                      “yes …
            but is it as good as you say it is
                      does it not depend on
                      how well you said it;
                                   is it good for all,
            how could you make it good for everyone
                      are you qualified to make it good
                                   I own the word goodTM
                      … is it good, is it morning, shouldn’t it
                                   be day
                                   come back here
                                              while I’m talking to you …?”





communication wormhole: the View: from Here to the Learning Objective to the Learning Horizon
Have wormhole: tag cloud poem VI – anyone’s eyes
morning wormhole: letters to Mum I – a walk / and talk
speech wormhole: sniff


the air of architecture




                           I read a book during the summer of ‘78
                           or ’79 I cannot remember the title I can-
                           not remember the author I cannot rem-
                           ember the plot or any of the characters
                           I cannot remember the cover and am
                           not sure I would recognise it again if I
                           found it in a second hand bookshop –
                           it was set in Paris, I think, and involved
                           prostitutes, possibly, but nevertheless
                           left a slight flavour at the back of my
                           eyeballs which I haven’t been able
                           to blink away no matter how deep
                           I breathe the air of architecture





being wormhole: posture
eyes wormhole: city-centre-coffee-shop / talk
Paris wormhole: wide-open / concentration
reading & time wormhole: letters to mum II – family // like a grate







                           ‘a stylist to the stars’
                           so much that she has to

                           as we lean into a
                           mile-wide curve
                           something rattles glass and metal

                           on the pull-down tray behind
                           and as we straighten out …
                           nail varnish





listening wormhole: 1963
smell wormhole: in the middle of silence and heat:
sound wormhole: tag cloud poem VI – anyone’s eyes
speech & train & travelling wormhole: ‘n’


letters to mum II – family // like a grate


Mum was diagnosed with cancer in the early summer of 1998, she died the following March 1999; I couldn’t get up to London to see her regularly so I started a correspondence; sixteen years later I realise that our correspondence didn’t just stop with her death, the same as our life together didn’t: our life together was always the response between the words and events …




                Dear Mum,

                it was good to read from you
                in this new write of relationship
                although the tiredness in your word
                was obvious when it came:

                so you might expect a remission
                for weeks or years or not, which
                certainly sharpens a life, and with no
                dependents to consider anymore

                preparing ready for the time
                more-clear-now to come, the better
                to put your life into its order,
                is it God calling you now?

                I know you have your congregation
                around you (even if it is too much at times)
                how families ebb and go in peoples’ lives
                only sometimes built around the tree

                we four were close for a while forming the
                parts of each others’ lives; it took a long time to
                emerge, even after university, even after
                Nan died, even as my own family grew,

                I was still with us in Genesta Road; and yet
                there you are, all through the chemo, I see
                you adjust your life talking of ‘excess
                baggage’ – I was happy to take possession

                of the photographs: of you working at the
                office seeing those goods in and out, those
                huge ships like family, with their chapter
                and verse, those endless invoices in triplicate

                smell of typewriter ribbon, the bad air-conditioning
                the silly young office workers testing up their futures
                your giggly exchanges with them, all part of that endless work
                up and down the River through endless years like a grate

                take care, much love,





part of the ongoing life and page of … Mum
death & family & love & Mum & Nan & reading wormhole: letters to Mum I – a walk / and talk
Genesta Road wormhole: still there?
identity wormhole: ‘n’
letting go wormhole: I will eventually drift tectonic
life & time wormhole: tag cloud poem VI – anyone’s eyes
Thames wormhole: still there // above the / Dallin Road / allotments / looking high over the river and the city
university wormhole: … thank you
words wormhole: words
work wormhole: the chiropodist







                           y’don’t fool me
                           with y’diary open
                           an’ y’pointy shoes
                           balanced on th’heels
                           keen ‘n’ up ‘n’ eager
                           I can see from y’busy
                           thumb y’muffin’tops
                           y’l’ng r’und cheeks that
                           you have stubby toes
                           and th’anxiety of
                           what t’do n’xt
                           pen hoverin’ over
                           names ‘n’ numbers





compassion wormhole: movement
identity wormhole: city-centre-coffee-shop / talk
speech wormhole: letters to Mum I – a walk / and talk
train wormhole: there
travelling wormhole: moon


the Telescope

Unpacking the Telescope

Having ‘sighted’ the Learning Objective, here is where the true magic begins.   The teacher – with all h/er degree course, holistic understanding of the Learning Objective – needs to ‘unpack’ it.   The whole Learning Objective (the topic) needs to be broken down so that the pupil can begin to access it.   A skilled teacher does not wade straight in with the issues and analysis of a topic, s/he will plan the lesson which starts with identifying the topic (knowledge), then showing how it works (understanding) and finally, if a pupil can get that far, nurture analysis or discussion of it (evaluation).   The lesson is the topic unpacked (which takes a high level of discerning analysis on behalf of the teacher, we do need to know our subjects at degree-level).   Teaching is the alchemy of taking the pupils’ minds through the lesson, of making them see, guiding them, allowing them, clueing them in, clueing them through, pointing them to the Bigger Picture of the Learning Objective.   This requires the art of communication – the tricks, foolery, adjustment and dancing which can never be captured in a tick-box sheet of paper.   This is where the power of the teacher lies, not just in producing the lesson (a marvel in itself if well unpacked – and mapped), but in taking the pupil through the lesson (the creative, unmethodical dynamic which is communication).   The ‘telescope’ needs to be opened out in order to see through it.

Looking Through the Telescope

The pupil’s learning – the response to the lesson – is one of finding and then integrating.   Finding straight facts is one level of learning, categorising them is a higher level, linking them together is a higher level, relating them is yet higher, testing them is yet higher still, analysing them still higher, contextualising them from a macro perspective…   Each successive level of learning requires the fitting of what has been already learnt into a wider perspective – integration.   The lazy pupil will be satisfied with the straight facts (the disaffected pupil won’t even get this far); the enquiry of a pupil (or the skill of a teacher) will seek to see how far their knowledge can be taken.   If the way to integrate the knowledge is clear (again the skill of the teacher) learning will develop (not just be ‘received’).   The telescope will be folded back once the view has been seen: knowledge fits into understanding fits into evaluation.



evaluation wormhole: tag cloud poem VI – anyone’s eyes
knowledge teaching craft & understanding wormhole: the View: from Here to the Learning Objective to the Learning Horizon
teaching art wormhole: The Future of Teaching: performance or capability (‘oh, not ‘teaching’ then?’)






                looking out over the high street
                past the shop fronts in the sun

                the thousand different ways
                that people step some whose hair

                shifts and flanks to complete their
                movement others’ who don’t





coffee shop wormhole: city-centre-coffee-shop / talk
compassion & others wormhole: the Buddha head in an antique shop
hair wormhole: the Avengers
people & walking wormhole: introducing / the stranger
shops wormhole: ‘just popping down / to the shops’
streets wormhole: there
sun wormhole: in the middle of silence and heat:


city-centre-coffee-shop / talk





                     full of eye-contact teeth and hold
                     the talker gives it, like – hands –
                     the listener illustrates with cartoon-faces
                     then seamlessly – and loudly –
                     monologue-switch full of
                     I-contact chair-shift and





coffee shop wormhole: somewhat // digesting
eyes & faces & identity wormhole: tag cloud poem VI – anyone’s eyes
hands wormhole: posture
talking wormhole: letters to Mum I – a walk / and talk


tag cloud poem VI – anyone’s eyes


warwick cafe



while earrings twinkle
the earth turns inexorably

in all the cafés along Eastbourne front
eating happens with clak but no

economics doesn’t explain it
all said Eda* but I didn’t understand her then or now
despite my education

despite the educational behaviourism
I teach in schools of tomorrow’s children creating
life as treacled as an Edward Hopper

look what happened to Ginsberg’s eggs!
the journey from Eglinton Hill
to the Eiffel Tower took ten years

by elastic band and is still incomplete
because the electric was not current,
but elipse, and no one factored that in

well, just look at the elm which
grows into the ground and
only in Eltham is the emergence apparent

and Emma Peel with a face like a plate
in permanent employment modelling different styles of emptiness
but stuck and empty herself within that very decade

I don’t know: the endeavour should never be
the engine because where would you get off
for the Enlightenment?

ennui the constant air of Eternity
drifting across landscape of Europe despite
scar and plenty

the evaluation has still not been made
no matter how late into evening you wait
the evidence will always peel and flake

the exchange will already look to the next
the existence will writhe on the Utah beaches
to tailor expectation like Emperor’s New Clothes

experience is common but not the denominator
exploitation works best when dressed as expression
with only a wisp of anxiety betrayed by an eyebrow

just look deep into anyone’s eyes


*Eda was someone I fell soppily in fatuation with during the first year of university, but I was so naïve I didn’t know what it was and didn’t know what to do with it; I still don’t now




air & looking wormhole: on sitting / in front of / a hedge
anxiety & teaching wormhole: what I am about to say is true / what I just said was a lie
beach wormhole: gazing at the night / as my eyes passed the jagged hole / my head disappeared
cars wormhole: cold wind
Eastbourne & Dionne Warwick wormhole: promenade
echo wormhole: 1963
economics wormhole: 20th century
education wormhole: just saying, is all – III
Eglinton Hill & evening wormhole: ‘“ruddy crows!” / said my Dad …’
Eiffel Tower wormhole: parc du Champ-de-Mars
emergence wormhole: vagued
emptiness & time wormhole: posture
evaluation wormhole: the View: from Here to the Learning Objective to the Learning Horizon
eyes wormhole: the Buddha head in an antique shop
faces wormhole: titanic
Ginsberg wormhole: multifarious: the Dark Knight Returns (1986)
Have & war wormhole: plethora: the Dark Knight Strikes Again (2002)
identity & life wormhole: letters to Mum I – a walk / and talk
pointlessness wormhole: first a mishap then clear vision
society wormhole: introducing / the stranger
sound wormhole: open window
tag cloud poem wormhole: tag cloud poem V – draft-ness


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