New Year, New Learning

Thirty years late.

This weekend was half busy in that I spent almost the entirety of yesterday marking my way through my Extended Essays. Knowing how many marking criteria there are (eleven), I marked them all one criterion at a time, which may not have sped things up, but it did mean I wasn’t having to keep eleven things in mind all at the same time.

I note that none of the criteria really covered the matter of the accuracy of peripheral facts. One student stated there were two world wars in the 20th century only to shift them back to the 19th century. None of the criteria seemed concerned with grammatical accuracy beyond appropriateness, which meant that some nonsense had to be allowed to pass. Nor were there any penalties for improper use of paragraphs. Once again, the IBO seeks to flatter.

The main problems tended to be with peripheral issues such as the abstract, the introduction, and the bibliography. The last of these lost everyone marks because in spite of being told to use the Harvard Reference System, it was not properly implemented. I had even warned one student to change the bibliography in her first draft, but to no avail. The final draft contained the same bibliography.

Where Saturday was busy, Sunday was deliberately idle. I spent quite a large chunk of the day on YouTube looking for music videos from the early 80s and creating playlists. I’ve been after pieces of music that I liked at the time, but never felt inclined to buy the album. I’ve also been tracking down pieces of music which I liked, but about which I knew next to nothing at the time.

Thus, I found that UB40’s song Food for Thought, which has a memorable sax riff, begins “Ivory Madonna, dancing in the dark”, and not “I’m a prima donna…” I had thought the song was a dig at Thatcher. I didn’t know that Making Plans for Nigel was by XTC; or that Johnny and Mary was sung by Robert Palmer and is supposed to be about a couple of mimes; or something. I thought it was some melancholy piece about someone who’s mentally retarded or perhaps suffering from the consequences of drug addiction or a car crash. And his name’s spelt Jona Lewie.

I also happened to bump into a video of hits from 1986, which reminded me why I gave up on contemporary music at about that time. Glam rock had returned, it was an age of saccharine ballads, and rap was starting to blight the scene. It was also the time of feat. songs when, I think, we were all meant to fall about in orgasmic ecstasies about the union of two great musical egos… Sorry, artists. All right, it seems to have worked sometimes – Bowie and Jagger, for example. This also reminds me of Dire Straits. Must go looking for some of their stuff.


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