Thursday, February 16, 2012

Feeling Witchy

Today I learned about Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron (the preorder price is pretty cheap I'll add). It's an anthology of short stories about witches. That can't be bad. Even better, it includes authors like Neil Gaiman, Holly Black and Jim Butcher. I'm really looking forward to it. It's edited by Jonathan Strahan who has some great podcasts up here.

I've actually been doing some witch-related research over the last couple of days. A colleague and I are working on a little project about aging in fairy tales and children's literature. The heritage of fairy tale is delightful contradictory on the topic of old women. Marina Warner has written: "Both the linguistic link between godmothers and old gossips, and the social link between aging women and secret, wicked powers, are crucial in the world of fairy tale; wrestling control of that evil tongue occupied the energies of many of the pioneers of nursery tales" (From the Beast to the Blonde, 48). I personally can't wait to have 'secret, wicked powers.' My part of the project is just starting to investigate how old women exist beyond political and social hierarchies. Not merely 'outside,' but actually beyond. Terry Pratchett's witches, for instance, are some of the best contemporary examples of the older tradition in which witches, godmothers and fairies would reorder kingdoms according to their whims and deliver chaos through blessings and curses.

Got to love some chaos.

On a side note, I just read a piece on fighting cheating through the promotion of learning on BoingBoing. Click through to the blog post itself on 21k12. I'm not in 100% agreement with everything - I think learning goals have to be phrased so that they aren't prescriptive, since students often learn what teachers never expect, and, in any case, goals work better for some topics than others - but it's something to consider when improving curriculum.

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