Category Archives: Education

What has gone wrong with education especially in the UK and how to fix it.

new course lesson 10 . Lewis Carroll


LEWIS CARROLL. New course lesson 10

Alice in Wonderland is one of the best known children’s stories in the world. It was written by Lewis Carroll. Not many people know much about the author.

Lewis Carroll was born in the United Kingdom. His real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. His family was affluent and well-connected. He attended Rugby School. This is one of the most celebrated schools in the realm. In the early 19th century it was on the up and up because of its legendary headmaster Rev Thomas Arnold.

Lewis Carroll was exceptionally academically able. He had no trouble with Latin and Greek. However, his passion was mathematics. He went to Oxford University. There he covered himself in glory graduating with a first class degree. He was immediately offered a fellowship at Christ Church. Christ Church is the most magnificent college in Oxford. As a ‘fellow’ of the university he was teaching undergraduates. He was also producing research papers.

Photography was only invented in the 1840s by two French brothers named Daguerre. Cameras came to the UK shortly after this time. Cameras were extraordinarily expensive. Lewis Carroll was one of the first people in the country to own a camera. He was an enthusiastic photographer.

Most Oxford dons were priests in those days. A ‘don’ at Oxford or Cambridge is someone who teaches at a university. The word ‘don’ does not have this meaning outside Oxford or Cambridge. The two great English universities were affiliated to the Church of England. People of other Protestant denominations could attend these universities. Lewis Carroll decided to take holy orders – that means to become a priest. This involved some study of theology. He found that simple and passed the exam easily. Soon he was ordained a priest in the Church of England. He was entitled to wear clericals (special clothes for priests). He was also allowed to lead worship and to perform particular ceremonies such as marriages and funerals. Lewis Carroll was allowed to put the word ‘Reverend’ in front of his name. People called him ‘The Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’. Reverend is a word that means ‘respected’. For short people write ‘Rev.’ before the name thus ‘Rev. Dodgson’.  But if you see ‘Rev’ it is pronounced ‘ the reverend’. Notice that the word ‘Reverend’ is used before the surname or the whole name. To say ‘The Reverend Charles’ would be wrong unless you say the surname too ‘ The Reverend Charles Dodgson’. Usually people simply used the surname as in ‘The Reverend Dodgson’.

Most Oxford dons were not permitted to marry. If they wished to marry they could do so with the blessing of their college but they must leave. Dons who married moved to be clergy in parishes controlled by their colleges. One of the exceptions to this was the head of house. Each Oxford college had a head of house. The head of house was the man in charge of the college. At Christ Church the head of house was the Dean. Dean Liddell was married and had children.

On Sunday 4 July 1861 Dean Liddell decided to take his family on a jolly boat trip down the Thames. Liddell asked his friend Lewis Carroll to come along. They set off from Folly Bridge in Oxford. They rowed at a sedate pace. This was leisure and not a race.

As they paddled along that afternoon Dean Liddell’s daughter Alice asked Lewis Carroll to tell her a story. Lewis Carroll made up a story on the spot.  The protagonist was named Alice after the child in the boat. It was so vivid and enthralling that Alice said that he should write down the story. When Lewis Carroll got home he did just that.

The story was reworked. Lewis Carroll added a character called the mad hatter based on an eccentric furniture dealer in Oxford.  Hatmakers used quicksilver (mercury) to treat felt. Felt is animal’s fur and skin. Quicksilver made the felt stiff and therefore suitable as a hate Continued exposure to mercury made people mentally ill. Insanity was an occupational disease of milliners.

Carroll then presented the manuscript to a publishing house. His story was printed and sold. It was an overnight sensation.

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson wanted to be taken seriously as a mathematician. He thought that if he published a children’s storybook under his real name it would undermine his reputation. Therefore he took the name Charles and turned it into ‘Carroll’ because it is related to the Latin for Charles. Lutwidge he turned into Lewis. He dropped ‘Dodgson’ for his pen name.  He reversed the order of his names. It should have been Carroll Lewis but he put them in the opposite order. Therefore he published the book under the name Lewis Carroll.

Alice in Wonderland was groundbreaking. It did not conform to the conventions of a fantasy novel. It was not a fairytale with witches, goblins, wizards, enchantment, miracles and so forth. It was zany and memorable. The novel contained some characters whose names have now entered common parlance such as the Mad Hatter. The expression ‘off with their heads’ is well known now.

The book was read avidly in the United States. The US was in the throes of its civil war. This book distracted people from their travails.

Queen Victoria asked Lewis Carroll to come to meet her. The don duly traveled to Buckingham Palace. Her Gracious Majesty expressed her delight at this sublime book. She requested a copy of his next publication. The following year Lewis Carroll published a book on higher mathematics and sent it to the Queen. She was perplexed by the book. It was beyond her. She had not realized that Lewis Carroll was first and foremost a mathematician.

Lewis Carroll preferred photographing people to things.  He never married or had children. Rev Dodgson (to give him is real name) conducted worship until the last months of his life. He lived out his days in Oxford. He died there and is buried in the city. After he died his family destroyed most of his albums.

Alice grew up married and had children.


  1. In which country was Lewis Carroll born?
  2. What was his real name?
  3. What school did he go to?
  4. What was his favourite subject?
  5. Which university did he go to?
  6. Was he clever?
  7. What is an Oxford don?
  8. Did Lewis Carroll marry?
  9. Who was Dean Liddell?
  10. What was the name of Liddell’s daughter?
  11. On which day did the Liddell’s take Lewis Carroll on their boat?
  12. How did the name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson turn into Lewis Carroll?
  13. Which bridge did they set off from on their boat?
  14.  On which date did Lewis Carroll tell a story to Alice?
  15. Why is the main character in Alice in Wonderland named Alice?
  16. Who was the mad hatter based on?
  17. Was Lewis Carroll’s book popular?
  18. Did Queen Victoria read the book?
  19. Why did people in the US need cheering up in the 1860s?
  20. What happened to Alice Liddell?








New course lesson 5. Dr Samuel Johnson


Dr JOHNSON New course 5.

Samuel Johnson was born in the small city of Lichfield. Lichfield lies in the country of Staffordshire. Staffordshire is a county in the Midlands of England. When Samuel Johnson was born the United Kingdom had been formed not many years earlier.

The Johnson family was an Anglican family. That meant that they were members of the Church of England. This accorded them many advantages since the Church of England was the church by law established. Samuel attended King Edward School in Lichfield. It was name after Edward VI. Edward VI was a boy king in the 16th century who founded many schools.

Johnson’s father was a bookseller. Samuel was to follow in his father’s footsteps. The boy did exceedingly well at school. He was a voracious reader.  Samuel was fixated with learning about certain subjects. He was utterly obsessed with history, literature and divinity. The boy amassed a staggering vocabulary. However, he was ungainly. Despite being well built and well above average height he was a laggard at sports. His hand eye co-ordination and gross motor skills were very poor. To look at him you would instantly perceive that he must be either a genius of a simpleton. He could not be anything in between.  As he was a substandard athlete he did not fit in well with his own generation. As a child he sought out the company of adults. He was by all accounts a most peculiar character. Samuel made small involuntary movements. His gait was strange and his manner of sitting was distinctly odd. He spoke in a florid and formal fashion. The boy was relentlessly logical even when this was deeply unpopular. His stilted and highly articulate speech made him a target for derision and mockery from less bookish types.

An attack of smallpox almost killed Samuel Johnson. It left his face pockmarked and it blinded him in one eye. Smallpox was a disease that claimed tens of millions of live. It was only wiped out in the 1970s.

Samuel Johnson attended Oxford University. There undergraduates studied classics – Latin and Ancient Greek. Through these languages they read history, philosophy and other subjects. Samuel spent only one year there before leaving. Therefore he did not graduate. That was not unusual for an undergraduate at the time. Very few people attended secondary school. To have finished it at all was a distinction. Some people did not even attend primary school in those distant days.

Having gone down from Oxford Samuel Johnson went to London. There he worked as a teacher for a while. Back then a male teacher was called a ‘schoolmaster’. Later Samuel Johnson set up a book shop. He also founded a printing press. He prospered in trade. This made him able to afford hearty dinners. He had a ferocious appetite and his girth expanded precipitously. This was to cause him some health complaints in the evening of life.

Johnson was well known for his waspish aphorisms. He was a journalist – not reporting the news but commenting on society. His witticisms had people in stitches. As well as journalism he made money from translating English into Latin.

Samuel Johnson was a regular worshipper in his local church. His religiosity was no affectation. He was a sincerely spiritual man. He also wrestled with questions of morality. He came to regard slavery as an unutterable wickedness. This was a deeply unpopular opinion in 18th century London. London was a city that had profited much from human bondage.

The Tory Party was the party that commanded Samuel Johnson’s allegiance. No one was a member of the party as such. Nor did he ever seek public office. He was broadminded and accepted people of contrary views could be decent. He was also willing to change his view of things. He was not rigid or blinkered.

The Jacobite Rebellion took place in 1745. Johnson later acknowledge that he felt a certain sympathy for the objective of the Jacobite. To wit, placing James III on the Throne. After the comprehensive defeat of the Jacobites Samuel Johnson came to accept the Hanoverian dynasty.

By the mid 18th century Samuel Johnson was a well known London character. Samuel would discourse for hours. He may have suffered from Tourette’s syndrome.  Budding writers and journalists congregated at his shop. They hung on his every word. His conversational patter was enthralling. His razor sharp intellect was marveled at by literary London. He was able to distil issues very quickly. His crystalline prose expostulated his opinions splendidly. He is best known for publishing one of the earliest English dictionaries.

In the 1770s there was much kerfuffle in America. In those days Britons were wont to allude to America as ‘the Colonies’. Dr Johnson did not agree with the claim of some in America to be exempt from tax unless they were represented in the legislature that taxed them. He penned a pamphlet ‘Taxation no tyranny’. Johnson felt nothing but withering contempt for the pretensions of the American Revolutionaries. He quipped ‘why do we hear the loudest yelps for liberty from the drivers of negroes’?

When the American Declaration of Independence was issued the British Government did not officially respond to it. Dr Johnson was secretly paid by the government to write a riposte. This was then published.

Dr Johnson married but had no children. In old age he suffered gout and numerous other ailments. He was known for his liberality to his friends even when his own financial situation was not good.

Oxford University awarded Samuel Johnson a doctorate in humane letters. This was an honorary doctorate. There were no substantive doctorates in the anglosphere in those days. Because of his honorary doctorate he is always known as Dr Johnson.

Dr Johnson loathed travel. Travel was slow and dangerous in those days. He despised sailors as louts and drunkards. He spent almost his whole adult life in London. He but rarely returned to his birthplace. His ailments rendered travel even more uncomfortable on bockety roads in his old age. Towards the end of his days he suffered from several maladies such as gout.

After Johnson died a book about him was published by James Boswell. It was entitled The Life of Johnson.

Many of his quotations survive. One of these is ‘When a man is tired of London he is tired of life.’


  1. In which city was Johnson born?
  2.  What was his Christian name?
  3.  What was his father’s occupation?
  4. What religious denomination did they belong to?
  5. Which university did he attend?
  6.  How long did he spend at Oxford?
  7. What did he study at Oxford?
  8.  Did he graduate?
  9.  What was his first job?
  10.  What business did he set up?
  11. Describe his appearance?
  12.  What was his manner of speaking?
  13. Was he religious?
  14. Was he generous?
  15.  What did he think of the Jacobites?
  16.  What did he make of slavery?
  17. What did he think about the American Revolution?
  18.  What is his most famous book?
  19. Which other languages did he know?
  20. Was he married?
  21. What is the best known biography of him?
  22.  Who wrote it?
  23. What disease did Johnson suffer as a child?
  24.  Was he sporty?
  25. What did he say about Americans calling for liberty?
  26. What did he say about people who are tired of London?
  27.  In which city did he spend most of his life?
  28.  What was his political party?
  29. Is he still alive?
  30.  What was his nationality?
  31.  Which is his most famous book?
  32. What do you think of him? Five sentences.



tongue twisters and April Fool’s Day


April Fools’ Day

People celebrate April Fools’ Day on 1st April in the Western World. This means that people will try to trick people on this day in a funny way. People will tell friends and relatives an incredible lie to see if they believe it.

The April Fools’ Day jokes are about seeing if people are gullible – if they believe something which is obviously untrue. For example, people post on Facebook ”I am about to have an operation to get a third arm attached.” Some people will believe this ridiculous statement. There are other examples like saying ”the Queen of England has announced that she going to become a clown”, ”my dog has learnt to read” or ”the government has is banning the word ‘the’ starting from tomorrow ”,   ”did you know that you will live ten years longer if you only ever drink through your nose?”    People will pretend to suddenly totally change their attitude. A well known vegetarian  might say she is going to start eating meat three times a day. A person might pretend to have totally changed his political opinions. A man who hates the European Union will suddenly say ”I absolutely love the European Union.” If someone believes such a foolish claim then you will say ‘April Fools’ Day’ loudly.

Some media organisations played April Fools’ Day jokes on the public. In the 1950s the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) showed a news item about special trees that grew spaghetti. Many people believe that spaghetti grew on trees! In 2008 the Guardian newspaper published an article saying that French President Sarkozy used special technology to make him look 10 centimetres taller than he really was. Notice the technology did NOT make him taller – it only made him LOOK taller by bending the light around him. It was an incredible thing to publish. But many people did not notice that it was 1st of April.

On April Fools’ Day most news items will be real! However, some media organisations will put in one joke news story to see if their readers or viewers notice. The next day the newspaper or new channel will tell their readers and viewers what the false story was. Some people think it is irresponsible of television channels and newspapers to publish such false stories. The public look to the media for information and not disinformation. Perhaps jokes should be on comedy shows and not in serious newspapers or on news broadcasts. But others argue these bogus stories are useful. It reminds people of the proverb ‘do not believe everything that you read in the newspapers’. It makes readers become more analytical and skeptical.

I am starting to build a bridge to the moon today.

  1. When is April Fools’ Day?
  2. Give an example of an April Fools’ Day joke.
  3. What is unusual about newspapers and news broadcasts on April Fools’ Day?
  4. If someone believes your crazily false claim on 1st April what should you say to them?
  5. Do you believe the claim about someone starting to build a bridge to the moon?
  6. Make up an April Fools’ Day claim – it should be something ridiculous. People should not believe it. Remember you are trying to see if people will fall for it.



Wunwun was a race horse

Tutu was one too.

Wunwun won one race today.

Tutu won one too.

1 1 was a race horse 2 2 was 1 2 1 1 1 1 race 2 day 2 2 1 1 2.


She sells sea-shells on the sea-shore.
The shells she sells are sea-shells, I’m sure.
For if she sells sea-shells on the sea-shore
Then I’m sure she sells sea-shore shells.


Betty Botter bought a bit of butter.
The butter Betty Botter bought was a bit bitter
And made her batter bitter.
But a bit of better butter makes better batter.
So Betty Botter bought a bit of better butter
Making Betty Botter’s bitter batter better


Shep Schwab shopped at Scott’s Schnapps shop;
One shot of Scott’s Schnapps stopped Schwab’s watch.


A Proper Copper Coffee Pot.
The sixth sitting sheet-slitter slit six sheets.
Irish Wristwatch, Swiss Wristwatch.
Pad kid poured curd pulled cold.
Peggy Badcock.


Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. How many pickled peppers did Peter Piper pick?


Sequel ne’er equaled prequel.


Proper prior planning prevents pitifully poor performance.

Yally Bally had a jolly golliwog. Feeling folly, Yally Bally Bought his jolly golli’ a dollie made of holly! The golli’, feeling jolly, named the holly dollie, Polly. So Yally Bally’s jolly golli’s holly dollie Polly’s also jolly!


How much wood could Chuck Woods’ woodchuck chuck, if Chuck Woods’ woodchuck could and would chuck wood? If Chuck Woods’ woodchuck could and would chuck wood, how much wood could and would Chuck Woods’ woodchuck chuck? Chuck Woods’ woodchuck would chuck, he would, as much as he could, and chuck as much wood as any woodchuck would, if a woodchuck could and would chuck wood.


Longest word in the English language:


Anti dis e stab lish ment ar i an ism.


flocc i nocc i ni hil pil if ic a tion


What is special about this sentence below?

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy sleeping dog.





Felicity lesson 7. 20th century Western art=================================================


Felicity lesson 7. 20th century Western Art.

The very early 20th century was known as La Belle Epoche ( French for ‘the beautiful era’). There was progress in all areas of life. Impressionism was all the rage and had become mainstream.

Moving images came out in the 1890s. These were films. At first films were very grainy and there were hardly any cinemas existed. Gradually picture quality improved. By 1912 Hollywood, California was the centre of the film industry.

In 1914 the First World War broke out. It was the bloodiest conflict the West had ever known. Propaganda art was produced for the war. This was mostly based on much older styles.

The First World War had a profound effect on Western art. Impressionism was more or less killed by the war. Memorialism became the dominant theme for a while. War memorials, gravestones and tombs were erected. There were triumphal arches and cenotaphs built. There was grief and mourning in art.

Anti-memorialism was a reaction against the lugubrious and macabre nature of memorialism. Some people preferred to look forward and celebrate life. Anti-memorialists said that memorialism was militaristic and glorified war.

The regimentation of society during the war angered many. Many people became anti-establishment. They disliked army officers and traditional types. Those who were horrified by the war moved to new artistic styles.

Dadaism was an artistic movement of the 1920s. It was an absurdist movement. Dadaists did things liked make a telephone with a model of a lobster as the earpiece. They were ridiculing convention and everything that was old fashioned.

Surrealism grew out of Dadaism. ‘Surreal’ means not real – it is about fantasy. Dadaism had blown open the doors for art. Surrealism experimented with images that could not possibly be real. Dreamlike imagery was produced.

Salvador Dali was perhaps the renowned surrealist. Dali was Spanish but spent much of his life in France. Dali painted melting clocks and crazy scenes. His imagery was even frightening.

In 1927 The Jazz Singer came out. This was the first film with sound. Before that words appeared on the screen to represent dialogue. A pianist played whatever music he considered best for the film. Actors in silent films had to express even more with their faces because they could not say anything.

Abstract art became a major movement in the 20th century. Art usually represents something outside itself. A painting of a woman looks like her. A sculpture of a dog resembles a dog. A drawing of a forest glade looks like its subject – a forest glade. However, abstract art went against this. Paintings were painted that did not look like anything. These would be colours on canvas. This was a very radical idea. Drawings and sculptures were made that did not resemble anything else. Some people found this aesthetically pleasing and artful. Others complained that abstract art was craftless and pointless.

In the 1930s colour photographs were invented. Colour photos were very expensive. Moreover, the colours tended to be garish and the images were unclear. Most photographers preferred black and white until the 1950s.

There was an artistic movement in the 1920s and 1930s called Bauhaus. It started in Germany. It was about curves and simplicity. It rejected the grandeur and formalism of previous styles. In terms of painting and drawing it was about smooth and round imagery with warm colour. It was unthreatening and homely.

Totalitarian governments in Germany and the Soviet Union produced neo-classical art. It favoured gargantuan sizes and stylised imagery. This was true of architecture, sculpture and painting. It was a very macho style.

By the 1930s cinemas were all over the Western world. Cinema became the most crucial artistic medium. The first colour film was The Wizard of Oz which was released in 1939. It was a worldwide sensation.

After the Second World War pop art became widespread. This favoured cartoon like images. It was partly abstract but also expressionist. Images in pop art were recognisable as people, houses, plants or whatever but pop art did not try to make them at all realistic. It was sparse in its construction and unreal in its colour schemes.

Jackson Pollack was an American artist who threw paint at canvases. Was this art? Or just a mess. Modern forms of art were very unrealistic.

Some people are more traditional and prefer art that requires a gift for art and an effort to be made. They hold that art must look like something else.

In the 1950s most people in the Western world had televisions. Television became a very important artistic medium. People did not go to art galleries so much or read newspapers or books so much. Films were often shown on TV.

In the late 20th century the divide between high art and popular culture broke down. High art was intellectual, costly and exclusive. People ceased to paint on canvases much.

Installation art became popular in the late 20th century. Household items such as fridges, sofas and beds were displayed as art work. Some people thought that this was fascinating and artful. Others said that installation art was worthless and stupid.

In the late 20th century a group called Young British Artists (YBA) emerged in the UK. YBA were keen on installation art. Tracey Emin was a prominent member of YBA. Damien Hirst was another prominent YBA person. Hirst famously cut up a dead cow and displayed it as art. He won the very prestigious Turner Prize for this. Some commentators said that slicing up a cow was not art. What does it mean? A dead cow is not beautiful or thought provoking. Artists strove to be controversial. As they had to try to hard to get attention perhaps this means visual art is no longer so vital.

By the late 20th century cinema was the most important form of art. In the United States people say ‘movie’ whereas in the United Kingdom people say ‘film’. In the USA people go to a ‘move theater’ (note the spelling of ‘e’ before ‘r’ in the American spelling of theater). In the UK people go to a cinema to watch films. When talking about movies or films as an art form people tend to call it ‘cinema’. The art of film making is called ‘cinematography’.

There are art house films. These will be high brow (high intellectual level) and low budget. The plot will not be obvious and the actors are not famous. These demand a lot from audiences and are often strange.

Mass market films are produced by Hollywood. These have huge budgets and stars who are world famous. The story will be easy to follow and the visuals will be fantastic. These films are usually low brow.

The Oscars is the most famous cinema awards ceremony. It takes place each spring in Hollywood, USA. There are different categories such as best picture. By ‘picture’ they mean film/ movie. There is best male actor, best female actor, best male actor in a supporting role, best female actor in a supporting role , best score (music) , best foreign language film (i.e. not in English) and so forth.

Sculpture has declined as an art form. Likewise not many paintings are produced particularly not oil paintings. Very wealthy people sometimes have their portrait painted in oil paints.



  1. What was La Belle Epoche?
  2. What was memorialism?
  3. What was anti-memorialism?
  4. What is Dadaism?
  5. What is Surrealism?
  6. Who was Dali?
  7. What is abstract art?
  8. When did colour photographs come out?
  9. What is bauhaus?
  10. What styles did totalitarian governments favour?
  11. What is pop art?
  12. What did Jackson Pollack do?
  13. What is high art?
  14. What does YBA stand for?
  15. Who is Tracey Emin?
  16. What was Hirst’s famous piece of art?
  17. What prize did Hirst win?
  18. What is installation art?
  19. Is abstract art really art? Five marks.
  20. What is low brow?
  21. How do Americans spell ‘theatre’?



Felicity lesson 6. Western Art – the 18th and 19 century.=========================================


Western Art from the 18th and 19th century

In the 18th century Western Art was quite rigid. Artists still produced work based on classical themes and Christian themes. But it was rather conventional. There was a right way to do things and a wrong way to do things. Innovation and individuality was frowned upon. Painting was fairly realistic and mostly in oils. People painted on canvases that were sometimes very large – several metres wide and high. They would show several people looking at the artist. As there were no photographs they showed people as realistically as possible. Painting had to serve the function that photos do now – to record images.

Because of classical influence people were sometimes shown wearing togas as they would have in Ancient Rome. Architecture was still often neo-classical or baroque. Churches and courthouses were built to resemble temples in Ancient Rome.

Edinburgh, Scotland had its New Town built in the late 18th century. It conformed so much to neo-Classicism that people called it the ‘Athens of the North’. No one called Athens the Edinburgh of the South!

Fashion was also very contrived. The wealthy wore silk as much as possible. Men and women often wore white wigs. People who had plenty of hair still wore wigs! People usually want to look young. These days if someone has grey or white hair he or she might dye hair dark or blond to look young. In the 18th century even teenagers wore white wigs – this made them look older! Men and women wore makeup – whitening their faces. They sometimes put on rouge to give themselves very pink or red cheeks. They stuck on beauty spots – to make it appear that they had black moles on their cheeks. These forms of fashion were very artificial.

Men wore clothes in which they could ride because many of them rode horses. They wore breeches – trousers that came down to the knees. They wore knee high socks. Men as well as women wore high heels. Sometimes men wore riding boots.

In the late 18th century there was a counter cultural that appeared. This was the Romantic Movement. It rejected the prevailing artistic norms. The romantics believed that nature was good and people should be natural. They rejected the existing artistic conventions as false and unnatural. The Romantic Movement disliked the affectations of mainstream society.

The key paradigm is the garden. The conventional 18th century view is that a garden should be perfectly tidy with manicured lawn, well tended flowerbeds and trees all in the row and all planted at the same time. So the rows of trees would all be same the height. A garden should be symmetrical and uniform. It should be manmade and under control.  There would be landscape gardening with man made hills and ditches dug. It must be orderly. A romantic would take a totally different view of the ideal garden. The romantic idyll would be a wild garden – flowers would grow wherever. Bushes would be higgledy piggledy. The trees would not be in straight lines nor would they all be the same height. The garden would be disorderly and untamed. Romantics believed that nature should not be conquered. We should embrace our inner animal and delight in being wild.

The Romantic Movement felt the same about all forms of art. In painting, drawing, sculpture as well as written art forms they tried to be true to nature. They strove to show the world as it is – often disorderly. They showed all sorts of people – not just good looking ones. They painted the poor as well as the rich. They painted natural scenes – not just manmade ones of buildings and gardens. The romantics disliked the falsity and regimentation of the existing order.

In the late 18th century ladies often wore Roman dresses. These dresses had a very high waistline – up at the chest. They often wore their hair in Roman styles. Men stopped dressing in such an effeminate style. Wigs were cast aside unless you were bald.

In the early 19th century Western art embraced heroic themes. Much of Europe had been fighting in the Napoleonic Wars. The romantic movement declined in the 1820s.

In the 1850s an artistic movement emerged in the United Kingdom called the Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood or PRB. The PRB was a group of young men who looked back to artistic styles from before Raphael. Raphael was a famous 15th century Italian artist. The PRB wanted to rediscover medieval styles. They painted, drew, sculpted and made wallpaper. William Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti were leading lights in the PRB. At the bottom of their paintings they would write the letters PRB. The rhapsodised about the Middle Ages. The PRB was a protest against industrialisation. Many factories and railways were being built. Cities were becoming noisy, polluted and crowded. The PRB felt that life was too fast and disagreeable. They harked back to the simplicity and loveliness of medieval purity. Their nostalgia was probably misplaced. The Middle Ages were horrid for most people who lived not far from starvation. Paintings became unrealistic and idealised. They often painted and drew medieval themes.

In the 1870s a new artistic movement started called Impressionism. The Impressionists were mainly French. They included Monet, Gaugin,  Pagnol, Toulouse-Lautrec and van Gogh. The Impressionists only sought to produce an ‘impression’ of what they were painting. They did not try to be lifelike. They would be imaginative in their uses of colour and light. They were very inventive and showed images as blurry. They avoided strict lines. The impressionists rejected classical themes and styles. They were modern and moved on. Some people felt that impressionists were talentless and dishonest.

Photographs were invented by the Daguerre brothers in the 1830s. Photos were originally called Daguerreotypes. As photos could record images accurately there was less need for paintings to do so.

Vincent van Gogh was a Dutch artist who was part of the Impressionist Movement. He was born in the Netherlands the son of a clergyman (religious leader). He was a misfit and his brothers had conventional careers. Vincent’s brother became an art dealer in Paris. Vincent moved to Arles in the South of France.

The splendid buildings of Arles did not appeal to van Gogh at all. He only depicted the natural world. He tried to make a living as a painter with little success. Impressionism was too radical and did not sell well. His movement was criticised for being false – in not showing things the way they really are. But van Gogh would only paint things he was looking at. He would never paint from memory or imagination. He shared a house with a French painter and they quarreled.

Much is known about Vincent van Gogh due to the weekly letters he sent to his brother in Paris. Vincent’s brother tried to sell his artwork for him. But impressionism was not fashionable and it was difficult to sell such paintings. A psychiatrist sent van Gogh to a mental hospital after the Dutchman cut off some of his ear and gave it to a woman. While in hospital van Gogh painted a picture called ‘Starry Night’ which is an image of the sky. It is counted as one of his finest works.

After van Gogh was released from hospital he moved to Paris. He was staying with a doctor who was treating him for mental illness. One day van Gogh walked out of the house to a field. He was shot in the stomach and found some time later. Van Gogh was treated but did not recover – he died. Did he shoot himself? Was it an accident or suicide? We will never know. Van Gogh died poor. Since his death he had become one of the most celebrated artists of all time.

In 1990 Van Gogh’s painting ‘The Sunflowers’ sold to a Japanese bank for USD 20 000 000.



  1. What was Western Art like in the early 18th century?
  2. What did rich men wear in the early 18th century?
  3. Early 18th century art looked back to which ancient civilisations?
  4. Why is Edinburgh called the Athens of the North?
  5. Why did many 18th century men dress ready to ride?
  6. What were the beliefs of the Romantic Movement?
  7. How did the Romantic Movement disagree with convention about gardens?
  8. What was the PRB?
  9. Name two PRB artists?
  10. Name three impressionists?
  11. What did impressionists believe?
  12. What nationality was van Gogh?
  13. How do we know so much about van Gogh?
  14.  Did Vincent van Gogh make lots of money?
  15. What did the Daguerre brothers invent?
  16. What job did van Gogh’s father do?
  17. Why was Vincent van Gogh’s brother useful to him?
  18. Why did a psychiatrist send Vincent to a mental hospital?
  19. Which painting did Vincent paint in hospital?
  20. How did Vincent die?
  21. Which is Vincent’s most illustrious painting?
  22. Which artistic movement do you like and why? Five marks.


Henry VI


Henry VI Comprehension

In 1421 Henry VI was born. His father was King Henry V of England. His mother was Catherine de Valois. The Valois family ruled France so Catherine de Valois’ father was King Charles VI of France.

France had been defeated by England in 1420. As part of the peace treaty Catherine de Valois had been given as a bride to Henry V. It was agreed that Charles VI could rule France as long as he lived. But when Charles VI died his kingdom would be ruled by Henry V. Henry V would be King of England and King of France. Charles VI was mentally ill. He was known as Charles the Mad. Charles VI believed he was made from a piece of glass. He had iron bars fitted to his clothes so if he fell over he would not shatter.

In 1422 Henry V died. Henry VI was proclaimed king at the age of nine months. As an infant he could not rule. A regency council was impaneled. His uncle the Duke of Bedford and the Duke of Gloucester were to rule in his stead.  The Duke of Gloucester was Lord Protector of the Realm. Bishop Beaufort was also part of the regency council.

Henry VI’s government effectually ruled most of France. He went to Paris and was crowned King of France at Notre Dame Cathedral. He is the only King of England to have been crowned in France as well. However, Henry VI had a French uncle called Charles VII. Charles VII controlled eastern France and did not accept that Henry VI was King of France.

Charles VII claimed to be the rightful King of France. His claim was based on several reasons. His father Charles VI had been king. The treaty said that Henry V would be king after Charles V but Henry V died first. Moreover, a mad man’s agreement does not count. Charles VII began to fight back against the English. He was aided by a 17 year old girl called Joan of Arc. This young woman claimed to have been divinely inspired. Astonishingly she was given command of the French Army. She lifted the Siege of Orleans. Joan of Arc was known as the Maid of Orleans. Joan of Arc was later captured by the Burgundians. Charles VII could have tried to rescue her but did not lift a finger to help her. He did like the military glory going to her.  She was later sold to the English. They put her on trial for heresy in Normandy. She defended herself impressively. She did not fall into any of the traps set by the questions. Nonetheless the kangaroo court found her guilty. She was burnt at the stake. An English soldier made a cross for her to hold as the flames were lit. As she died he cried ”we have burnt a saint.” Almost 500 years later she was canonized.

As Henry VI grew to maturity he exhibited some unusual traits. He was exceptionally religious even for a deeply religious epoch. His religiosity shaded into insanity. His Majesty was also extraordinarily erudite. The king loathed bloodshed and he was also a man of his word. He was too good to be great.

In the 1430s the English started losing the war in France. Castle after castle fell to Charles VII. He retook Paris. His symbol was the Cross of Lorraine. It has a vertical bar with two horizontal bars.

Burgundy is an area in eastern France. In those days it was considered almost a separate country. The Burgundians had been on the English side at first. However, in the late 1430s they switched sides. This was a death knell to English rule in France. Henry VI paid little attention to the conflict. He was fixated with faith and learning. He wrote a Latin prayer which is now sung at Eton College. He also composed a verse in English.

In 1440 Henry VI founded Eton College. It was to produce leaders for the church and the state. The king set it up only two miles from Windsor Castle. It was modeled on Winchester College. The college was for 70 poor scholars. However, boys from the very poorest classes were excluded. This was an era when only a small minority of boys went to school. Very few girls went to school. The king was given some splinters of wood from the true cross to grant to Eton. Pilgrims came to Eton to gain indulgences. That meant that the person could have his or her relatives released from Purgatory. The boys of Eton College had to pray for the repose of the souls of Henry VI’s parents. The king believed this would assure that they went to heaven. The school was a prayer factory. The school was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In 1441 the king founded King’s College, Cambridge. King’s College is part of Cambridge University. It is perhaps the most magnificent of any Cambridge college. The idea was for boys from Eton to go on to King’s aged 14. It is notable that he was spending more time on educational policy and neglecting the war.

Henry VI married. He was not close to his wife. She came from a French aristocratic family.

In 1450 there was a large scale revolt led by Jack Cade. Cade’s Rebellion was put down only with great difficulty. Most of the army was in France. People were despondent due to years of foreign war and the heavy imposts required to fund the prosecution of the same.

In the 1450s Henry VI descended into insanity. Some surmised that His Majesty was afflicted by the same lunacy such as his maternal grandfather had suffered from. The king spent hours at prayer and refused to meet foreign dignitaries. Some historians speculated that he was not as spiritual as has been claimed. Saying ‘the king is at prayer’ was a convenient excuse to furnish to VIPs at the royal court when the king was so raving mad as to be unpresentable. He treated the birth of his only child, Edward of Westminster, with complete indifference.

In 1454 Henry VI recovered somewhat. He founded All Souls College, Oxford. This college was founded to commemorate all the souls of the people killed in the Hundred Years War. This was a series of wars between France and England. The college still exists and is for graduates only. It is the most eminent intellectual community in the Commonwealth.

In 1455 Henry VI faced a challenge to his kingship. This was the start of the Wars of the Roses. Henry VI was a descendant of Edward III. Edward III had five sons. The descendants of those five sons began fighting each other. The two sides in the Wars of the Roses were the Yorkists (White Roses) and Lancastrians (Red Roses).  Henry VI was a Lancastrian.

The attempt to oust Henry VI found him out of sorts. His mental incapacity weakened his side. He had totally inapposite reactions. At the First Battle of St Albans he rolled on the ground laughing hysterically. Nevertheless his side was able to hang onto the Throne – for a while.

In 1460 Henry VI was deposed. As he was not compos mentis he does not appear to have grasped the gravity of the situation. He responded phlegmatically.

In 1470 the Lancastrians gained the upper hand once more. Henry VI was restored. In 1471 he was overthrown again. He was detained in the Tower of London. This was a royal castle like many others and not simply a place of imprisonment. It has since become notorious for its dungeon and as a place of execution. Henry VI’s son Edward of Westminster was a teenager and proving himself to be a consummate military commander. The Lancastrians suffered a crushing reverse at the Battle of Tewkesbury. Edward of Westminster was slain. That being done it was decided to terminate Henry VI’s life. He was killed in his cell. The Yorkists announced that the monarch had died of a broken heart on learning of his only son’s demise. However, this is widely believed to be fallacious. On 12 May, his anniversary, Eton College and King’s College Cambridge lay a red rose at the sight of his murder. In the decades after the king’s death people gathered at his tomb. Miracles were attributed to his intercession. Some wanted him to be beatified.

  1. In which year was Henry VI born?
  2. Who was his father?
  3. Who was his mother?
  4. Who was his maternal grandfather?
  5. What malady did Charles VI suffer from?
  6. When did Henry VI become king?
  7. How old was he when he became king?
  8. He was King of England and which other country?
  9. Who was Henry VI’s French uncle?
  10. Which of Henry VI’s uncles ruled England for him?
  11. What was Henry VI’s attitude to religion?
  12. Which school did he found?
  13. Which college did he found at Cambridge University?
  14. At which battle did the king laugh and roll on the floor?
  15. How did he react to the birth of his son?
  16. What was the name of his son?
  17. What relic did Henry VI give to Eton?
  18. What was the Wars of the Roses?
  19. In which year was Henry VI overthrown for the first time?
  20. When was he restored?
  21. When was he ousted for the final time?
  22. In which year did he die?
  23.  How did he die?
  24. What is the date of his death?
  25. What were the major achievements of Henry VI’s reign? (five marks)
  26. What were Henry VI’s main failings? (five marks)
  27. What is meant by the description of this king ‘he was too good to be great.’? (five marks)
  28. What was the Wars of the Roses? (five marks)
  29. What is your overall assessment of Henry VI? (five marks)




communication lesson 14


communication lesson 14.


Football has existed many centuries. However, football was often very different in past times. There were many different types of football in each region. In some places people were allowed to pick up the ball. In other regions this was forbidden. In some areas shin hacking was allowed and in other places this was prohibited. Shin hacking was kicking the shins. In some areas there were 10 players on each time and in other areas it was 20 players a side. Some villages said there was no limit to the number of players. Some places had lines drawn on a field to mark the area of play. In other regions there were no lines marking the pitch.
When people from one region traveled to another region to play football they often found that they were playing by different rules to their opponents. Because railways had been built people could travel further and faster than before.
In 1863 the Football Association was founded in England. This organisation is known as the FA. The FA got together football players from around the country. They discussed the various versions of the rules of football. That year the FA published the rules of football. The FA considered these the best rules. This marks the start of football as a properly organised sport.
Workers had Saturday afternoon off work from that time. Workers began to play football in their free time. The famous teams often grew out of teams made up of men who worked in a particular place. Manchester City Football Club was for railway workers. Arsenal F C was for those who worked at the Royal Arsenal making guns for the army. That is why there is a cannon on the symbol of Arsenal. Arsenal are known as ”the Gooners” – as in ”Gunners”. Football became very popular. People came to watch. Soon football clubs put up fences and would only allow people in to watch if they paid. Football clubs became rich organisations. At first only railway workers were allowed to play for Manchester City. Then the club changed the rule and allowed anyone to play. They just wanted excellent players. Likewise Arsenal at first only selected players from among men who worked at that factory. They abolished that rule and they searched for talented players from wherever.
The players began to take their sports more seriously. It was no longer just for fun. It was competitive. They would play a match on Saturday but they would train a few times a week. They began to work less on their ordinary job. The club paid them to train and play. Football became a professional sport.
Football spread around the world. The first international match ever was between Scotland and England in 1870.
Soon many countries were playing football. International matches became more common after 1900. Improving transport made it possible for teams to travel the world.
More newspapers were being printed. Improved transport allowed these newspapers to be taken around the country. Exciting accounts of football matches enthused many people. Newspapers began to print photos of the matches. Football became so popular that clubs could not just let people stand by the pitch to watch. They started to build stadiums so more people could watch the game. Companies began to sponsor clubs and pay for advertising in clubs.
In the 1920s radio broadcasts began. They often broadcast live commentary on the match. In the 1930s television broadcasts began and football matches were shown on television. At first televisions were extremely expensive and only a few people had tellies.
In 1930 the first football world cup was held. England refused to participate. They thought it would distract from club matches and club football was more important than international football.
The 1930 World Cup was held in Uruguay. The host nation won.
In 1934 the World Cup was held in Italy. Italy was ruled by a fascist dictator called Mussolini. Mussolini said Italians were superior. He had to make sure his people won. He bribed the referees. Italy won 2-1 against Czechoslovakia in the final. Italy was a formidable football nation. Even without cheating they would have done well but probably not won.
The 1938 World Cup was held in France. Italy beat Hungary in the final 4.2.
1. When was the FA founded?
2. What does the FA stand for?
3. Which two countries played in the first international football match?
4. What is an arsenal?
5. Who was originally allowed to play for Manchester City?
6. Which country hosted the 1934 World Cup?
7. Why did England not take party in the 1930 World Cup?
8. Who won the 1930 World Cup?
9. What was the result in the 1938 World Cup Final?
10. DO YOU like football? Explain you answer. (6)




There are many tenses in English. That last sentence was in present simple.

I am writing this. That last sentence was in present continuous as it used the ‘ing’ form for the verb.

I wrote a sentence in past simple. This sentence is in present simple but the one before is in past simple.

I have been to China. That previous sentence is present simple. I had been to India before I went to China. That sentence mentioning ‘India’ was in past perfect tense.

I will go to Brazil soon. That was in future simple.

I will be going to Brazil in July. That is future continuous.

I was traveling around Thailand in 2001. That sentence is past continuous.

I had had a good time there. That is past perfect tense.

Now write one sentence in each of these tenses: present simple, present continuous, present perfect, past perfect, future simple and future continuous.



There are several parts of speech in English.

A noun is a part of speech. A noun is a person, place or thing. Nouns are subdivided into proper nouns, common nouns and abstract nouns.

Felicity is a noun because ‘Felicity’ is a person – so is ‘George’, so is ‘Mildred’ and so is ‘Suzy’. The name of any person is a noun. These are proper nouns because each person is unique. A proper noun begins with a capital letter even if it is not at the beginning of a sentence.

China is a noun since it is a place. This is a proper noun because it is an exact place. Likewise Shanghai, San Francisco and Paris are proper nouns. A proper noun is the name of any city, street, country, organization, the title of a book, the title of a film etc… A proper noun must be exact. ‘The street’ is not a proper noun since it is not exact. ‘Oak Street’ is a proper noun since it is a precise place. ‘My country’ is not a proper noun since there are many countries. ‘Spain’ is a proper noun because there is only one Spain.

A common noun is any object – table, pencil, leg, frog, the sky etc….

An abstract noun is a noun that cannot be touched. These are things like ‘happiness, sleep, idea, goodness, truth, lies, future, wellness, hope and fear’. These things exist and can be experienced but they cannot be touched. They often exist in the mind. That is what abstract means – something which is not tangible.



Verbs are doing words. They all have an infinitive which is the core form of the verb. Some examples of infinitives are: to go, to come, to be, to have, to eat and to think. The infinitive is usually prefaced with the word ‘to’.

We used to say a ditty: Verbs, verbs – doing words!

Verbs do not have to be physical. Some non-physical actions are ‘to decide, to feel, to realise, to think, to be and to analyse’.


These replace nouns. Rather than say ‘Felicity’ I could say ‘she’ or ‘her’ depending on the context. The other pronouns are ‘he, him, it, that, these, those, we, us, they and them’.

There are possessive pronouns which show possession. Possession is about ownership or belonging. The possessive pronouns are ‘my, mine, ours, theirs, his, hers and its.’



A conjunction joins words together. The word ‘junction’ is about ‘joining.’ Remember a ‘junction’ is a railway station where two or more lines cross. Do you see the similarity between junction and conjunction? It is about connecting or joining.  Here are examples: ‘and, but, however, rather, moreover, therefore, because, furthermore, so’ etc….

These words connect others which is why the other name for conjunctions is ‘connectives’. Conjunctions and connectives are exactly the same thing. These are two different words for the same thing.


This word is pronounced ‘PREP o zish unz’ . However, it is easier to understand if you say it is ‘PRE poz ish unz.’. This is because prepositions are about the POSITION of words. Prepositions are words of position or direction. Here are examples: ‘up, down, in, out, above, below, beside, within, without, behind, beneath, away, far, under, over, along, around, by, with, to, from and many more.



  1. Define a noun. Then give ten examples – these can a mixture be from any of the noun classes i.e. proper nouns, common nouns and abstract nouns.
  2. Define a proper noun. Then give ten examples
  3. Define a common noun.
  4. Define an abstract noun.
  5. Define a conjunction. Give five examples.
  6.  Define a preposition. Give five examples.
  7.  Define a verb. Give ten examples.