A strong leader stands in an un-drained swamp.
“It’s so easy to laugh,
It’s so easy to hate,
It takes guts to be gentle and kind”
Lyrics by Morrissey to ‘I Know It’s Over’ by The Smiths
A recent survey carried out by the newspaper La Repubblica found that 80% of Italians think the country needs to be run by “un uomo forte” (a strong man). In 2006, only 55% of the populace subscribed to this view while 60% held this belief in 2010.
This rising trend is worrying and depressing on many counts. It indicates that more and more voters are willing to be represented by leaders solely on the basis that they adopt strong opinions and maintain a posture of decisiveness.
On the surface this may seem logical and uncontroversial. After all, who would want a leader to be weak and indecisive? The problem lies with what exactly is meant by the word ‘strong’. Continue reading
Image from The How to be British collection by Martyn Ford & Peter Legon (Lee Gone Publications)
1. Anyone who isn't British.
2. Anyone likely to be given a metaphorical 'bloody nose' by a plucky Brit.
(definition courtesy of Urban dictionary)
Images of British Culture and the role of English Language Teachers
In 1998 Lord St John of Fawsley stated in the British House of Lords that alongside the common law and parliamentary government, English language and literature was the greatest contribution to world civilization. He added that “at the heart of all three lies the idea of liberty. I do not believe that we can export our institutions indiscriminately, but by informing people of how they work and flourish, by imparting thoughts about them, we can enhance the chances for freedom elsewhere”.
English language teachers applying the communicative method actively seek to show language in context through the use of authentic texts. This means that material has to be selected to illustrate not only fundamental grammar structures but also to depict images of Britain through its culture and customs.
If, as Lord St John Fawsley strongly suggests, these images are chosen with a view to selling the cultural superiority of British culture, it contradicts any notion that teaching English can be politically neutral. Continue reading