Another book

Language, Knowledge and Pedagogy ed. Frances Christie and J.R. Martin, 2007

The title was irresistible! I got it from Amazon in pursuance of work which Urszula Clark had told me about in answer to my comment: “Surely other people have done my analysis of academic  texts and come up with abstract language.”

Indeed they have! In this collection is an article by J.R. Martin: Construing knowledge: a functional linguistic perspective. The abstract words which are produced by nominalisation and metaphor are described by Martin as the product of “grammatical metaphor” and “literal metaphor”.

This gives strong academic backing to my own work, though it is done from a totally different perspective. I can feel the necessity of another article coming on!

Is Linguistics a science?

I’ve been having a long-running argument with a friend about whether modern Linguistics can be called a science.

I maintain what I have written in my published papers that Systemic Functional Linguistics offers a complete description of the English language, which entitles it to be called scientific. There is no utterance in spoken or written English that cannot be exhaustively described in terms of this system. My friend argues that language is too complex and dynamic to be described in truly scientific terms. No linguistic school, she says, offers a universally agreed description of language such as the periodic table has established for the material world. Continue reading

Spaced Learning

One of the intriguing references in the site is a link to Spaced Learning.

This seems to be a scheme used by some schools in the Engaging Schools programme to use the insights of neuroscience to enable the memory to work to best advantage.

I look forward to pursuing this promising line of research.


I’ve been catching up on the books and websites recommended to me by Lindsey Sladen,  the teacher in charge of implementing Breakthrough to Learning throughout the school. This week I’ve been reading Mindset by Carol S. Dweck.

The sub-title: HOW YOU CAN FULFILL YOUR POTENTIAL places the books in the self-improvement tradition so strong in America. This is not immediately attractive to a sceptical European, but the message of the book turns out to have important implications for the contemporary approach to learning as practised in Lindsey’s school.

The message is a simple one: Dweck argues that there are two types of learner: Continue reading