Thursday 24 March 2011

The danger of a single story (speech by Chimamanda Adichie)

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian writer whose first two novels won literary awards.
In this moving and enlightening speech she talks about her own experiences and how dangerous to have just a single point of view about important matters can be. 

Close your eyes, listen and learn...

Thursday 17 March 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Today, 17th March, the most important Irish festival takes place. It's widely celebrated, not only in Ireland but also in the USA, the UK or Australia. In Ireland, this day is an important religious holiday. Businesses are closed and people go to church. Besides there is a four-day festival in the capital city, Dublin. In the USA, the New York parade is very famous because it's the largest in the world: more than 150,000 people take part in the marching. And in the city of Chicago, The Chicago River is coloured green on St. Patrick's Day!!

But let's start from the beginning. Who was St. Patrick?

St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. He was born in Wales but when he was a teenager we was taken to Ireland by some pirates and there, he became a slave. After some time, he could escape to France where he became a priest. Later on, he returned to Ireland and he converted a lot of Irish people to Christianity.

There are many legends about St. Patrick. One of them says that he took all the snakes in Ireland to the top of a mountain and pushed them into the sea. Another legend says he used the shamrock to teach the Irish about Christianity: he used the three leaves of this plant to explain that, for Christians, God is three beings at the same time. 

On St. Patrick's Day there are a lot of tricolour flags in the streets. Irish created this flag in 1848 with a special meaning. The green represents Irish Catholics and the orange represents Irish Protestants. The white rectangle in the middle stands for the hope for peace between Catholics and Protestants.

CLEMEN, Gina D.B., "British and American Festivities", Black Cat Publishing, 2004.

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Terror Stories (2nd ESO Group B)

Good evening!!

One of our students was told this first story by her grandmother and it goes as follows:

Years ago, in a town called Zarracos it was said that every night some lights were seen. It was said that they were the souls of the dead people who weren't free from sin yet and came here to let it know to the living.
(Marta Taín, 2nd ESO Group B)

This other story is about the well-known "Santa Compaña":

It's said that the Holy Company appears in the crossroads to call the soul of those who will soon leave the world of the living. Dogs start howling, announcing its visit, cats flee in terror and its step stops the noise of animals in the forest. A silence is interrupted by the ringing of a bell and funeral prayer beads. It's said that the person who is visited by the Holy Company will die within a year.
(Andrea Goyanes, 2nd ESO Group B)

Sunday 6 March 2011

Carnival time at our school

Dear students!!
I am uploading some of the pictures taken last Friday 4th March during three of my lessons. They are from groups A and B 2nd ESO and from group A 4th ESO.
I would have liked to upload some of our teachers but unfortunately I didn't take any. However, you have plenty of them in the Gallery of the school's website. Have a look and enjoy them!

2nd ESO Group B

2nd ESO Group A

4th ESO Group A

Thursday 3 March 2011

Such is life, the real story of Ned Kelly

Great talk last Tuesday!!
I’d like to thank Sonia Blanco (from Oxford University Press) and Robin Walker because this activity has been a success among our students.
After speaking with the four groups that attended the talk, I am glad to say that every opinion has been positive. Therefore, I can only wish that we have the opportunity to repeat it some time in the near future. Cross your fingers!!
Well, some of you discovered the lie Robin had told you (thank you Alba and Belén for your interest) and reported it to me the day after the talk. The lie was that Ned Kelly wasn’t a murderer at all.  
Here is Ned Kelly’s real story:

Edward 'Ned' Kelly was born at Beveridge in 1855, the first-born son of an Irish Catholic couple. His father, John 'Red' Kelly was an ex-convict (transported from Ireland for the theft of two pigs), who ran away with Ellen Quinn, an Irish 'bounty migrant'. They settled in the north of Melbourne. Red Kelly supplemented his income by horse stealing. After his arrest and gaoling for horse-stealing, Red Kelly died before finishing his sentence.

Ned Kelly grew up with the tales of bushrangers and when he was 14 he was arrested for stealing 10 shillings. Some time later, Kelly was charged with robbery under arms then freed for lack of evidence, although a few months later has was back in the lockup for assault.

Ned's real troubles with the police began when his mother was arrested for the shooting of Constable Fitzpatrick, who was later dismissed from the police force as “a liar”. Fitzpatrick was in charge of the Greta Police Station for a few days and had been warned to stay away from the Kellys - a warning he ignored. He went to arrest Dan Kelly for horse stealing; Dan had just returned home from gaol[1]. At the hut, Fitzpatrick assaulted Kate, Ned's older sister. During this affray, Ellen Kelly shot Fitzpatrick in the wrist but because she wanted to avoid any repercussions, tended Fitzpatrick's wounds, fed him, gave him something to drink and sent him on his way, with an understanding that no more would be said. 

Fitzpatrick returned to the police station with a different story which involved being hit on the head, an ambush by Kelly sympathisers and being shot at three times by Ned Kelly. Ned Kelly was 400 miles away at the time. Ellen Kelly was sentenced to three years in gaol, with a breastfeeding infant, for attempted murder of Constable Fitzpatrick.

While Ned Kelly did not try to break into gaol to rescue his mother he offered an ultimatum to the government:

" give those people who are suffering innocence, justice and liberty, if not I will be compelled to show some colonial stratagems which will open the eyes of not only the Victoria Police and inhabitants but also the whole British Army..."
(Jerilderie Letter, p. 19)

Ned was so enraged that he made a hide-out, with his brother Dan and their mates[2] Joe Byrne and Steve Hart, at the head of the King River, a virtually impenetrable place. Ned was furious about the use of the Felons Apprehension Act and the use of black trackers brought in from Queensland. The Gang relied upon their network of friends. 

The police were determined to hunt down the Kelly Gang, and in October 1878 a party of four police with heavy arsenal were sent out. Their camp at Stringybark Creek received a surprise visit from the Kellys with Ned commanding 'Bail up! Throw up your arms'. Constable McIntyre surrendered but Constable Lonigan went for his revolver, before being shot dead by Ned Kelly. When the other two police appeared and, Sergeant Kennedy reached for his revolver, he was mortally wounded. Constable Scanlon was then killed trying to drag his rifle from its holster.
The Kelly Gang were declared outlaws[3] after raids on the National Bank at Euroa and Faithful Creek station in December 1878. The sum of £8000 was put on their collective heads for robbery and murder. A further £4000 was added by the Government of Victoria. In February 1879, Ned and his Gang bailed up the Bank of New South Wales at Jerilderie.
In June 1880, Joe Byrne and Dan Kelly visited Aaron Sherritt, a close friend of Joe Byrne and whom Joe and Ned Kelly had helped fence his property. This, however, had only marked him as a Kelly accomplice and Sherritt had ended up colluding with police. Four policemen were hiding in Sherritt's hut and, after Sherritt was shot by Byrne for betraying Kelly, the police remained hiding, using the women in the hut as hostages. The Kelly's shooting of Sherritt made it look as if the Gang could move about the district as they wished, and the police redoubled their efforts to capture the Gang.

After more bank robberies, the Kelly Gang had their 'last stand' in the small town of Glenrowan, Victoria in 1880, where they took 60 hostages in a hotel. The Gang established a base at the Glenrowan Hotel, determined to fight iwith police when they came. Kelly planned to derail the expected train carrying the police, but this was prevented by a school teacher, let out of the hotel, who flagged the train to a halt. The troopers attacked the Gang in the hotel. Some police officers were wounded when the Gang shot at them. The townsfolk were allowed to leave the hotel when there was a lull in the fighting.

Ned Kelly was shot in the arm and thumb, and retreated to the bush, from where he hoped to attack police from behind. Knowing that the Felons Apprehension Act meant they could be shot, the Kelly Gang all wore suits of steel armour, made during the previous year. Despite this, Joe Byrne was shot and died. Dan Kelly and Steve Hart were shot dead, and the hotel was burned to the ground by the police. 

As dawn broke, Ned Kelly, in his armour, approached the police from the rear and began shooting at them with his revolver, despite his wounds. After half an hour, he was shot in both unprotected legs. A wounded Ned was arrested and charged with the murder of a policeman. Ned Kelly was tried and convicted of the murder of Constable Lonigan at Stringybark Creek.

In gaol, Kelly wrote a long letter to the authorities demonstrating the discrimination against poor Irish settlers. Despite public protests, the judgement of Redmond Barry prevailed. Kelly spoke the immortal last words 'Such is life' and was hanged on 11th November 1880 at Melbourne Gaol. 

Ned Kelly's final defiant stand against the Felons Apprehension Act and his pleas for justice to end discrimination against poor Irish settlers did end up opening the eyes of people. Ned Kelly in his armour came to symbolise a fight by a flawed hero, a convicted criminal, for 'justice and liberty' and 'innocent people'. This captured the imagination of writers, authors and the general public alike.

Full article in: 

[1] Jail, prison
[2] friends
[3] bandits

Tuesday 1 March 2011

Terror stories (2nd ESO Group A)

Here are a couple of terror stories written by some of our students:

The Black Cat 
by Sandra Ferreiro 2nd ESO Group A

Once upon a time, there was a family living with a cat. The cat always went around town. 
One day, the cat was out but didn't return. It was hit by a car and it was badly wounded on the road. Neighbours saw it lying there and they went to grab it to take it to its owners. The cat died and since then, every night , the cat appears at the same time at the same place where it was killed.

The Mill
by Eduardo García 2nd ESO Group A

Two years ago I went to a friend's housing area. There were many urban legends but I will limit myself to tell you one story:

Next to a picnic area located next to the shore of a little river, there is a wood. Through dense bush and fallen trunks there is a mill. Many rumours say that at night "the woodcutter" went with his old ax. When a child came, he could hear sounds of an ax cutting some kind of meat. 
"The woodcutter" was a humble man who lived in that village and he worked much in his harvest. The men who decided to build the housing area took everything and they fought the man. When they destroyed his house, his daughter was in there. He was full of anger and revenge and now he wanders at night in the housing area. 
He's now a ghost. If you go to the mill or the wood, the woodcutter is a tall man. Poor those who go to that area.