Wolf Hall notes

A faithful historic rendition of the years Thomas Cromwell rises to power first under Cardinal Wolsey, then King Henry VIII. This account is the first of a trilogy, now finished, with the first two winning the Booker Prize. An acclaimed BBC mini-series brings the book even more to life. A story for all ages, reviewed in the Guardian and NYTimes, here a couple of takes on issues at the edge of the story: the printing of books and paper notes.

You get a really good picture of life in 1530s England under Henry VIII and his court with this book. Court politics aside, money and banking aside (both ample topics), we get a glimpse of how the printing press, tied to Luther and Protestantism, is infiltrating and changing England and Europe.

Cardinal Wolsey sees this early on and gains power and wealth by decommissioning monasteries, mostly full of corrupt monks, and using the proceeds to establish colleges at Oxford. You can see the power move from church to university.

When Tyndale translates the Bible into vernacular English, it becomes a target of the King, trying to maintain credit and credibility among the Catholic kings of Europe, to which he is indebted. With his annulment to Katherine, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabelle, things get confusing. But the disruptive nature of books in the hands of regular people is well noted by Cromwell, who tries to manage his fortune around that fact.

The other notable part of this book (for me) is Cromwell’s fascination with the Memory Palace, which he learned in Italy, and commissioned a sort of memory machine by the Italian (Name begins with C), now moved to Paris. He goes on about a box, or chest, with drawers, and drawers within drawers, each with a book in it, and each with more drawers inside, linked from the text to another book. There is an eerie resemblance to Vannevar Bush and his concept of linked texts in As We May Think. Evidently, though, this is an adaptation of a system to remember things, Method of Loci, where lists are remembered by assigning them places, so it is also called a Memory Palace.

I plan to take a short break and start book 2 of the trilogy in about a week, on my daily walks up the hill to the park, then winding down through the cemetery. The audiobook version read by Ben Miles is excellent. Also looking to find a place to watch the BBC mini-series (It’s on Amazon, 4 Episodes, each about 90 minutes).

TBLT Prep: Planned Serendipity?

Is it really serendipity if it’s planned? By starting prep so early (6 months before), it allows time to find things as they cross by during my daily info-grazing sessions.

Four things have come across my desk last week that will improve the course I am teaching in May/June.

The first is a discussion group for a previous iTDi course on Dogme. Maria from the Ukraine, our community builder, set up a Facebook Group after the course, and now every couple of weeks 6-8 of us gather to discuss teaching. Last week it was about feedback. Elena (Russia) brought some new perspectives, Andreea (Romania) brought her critically incisive examples, Bistra in Sicily brings her solid background in teaching (I want to assign her blog posts about language learning to my students), Fabio (Italy) is a natural teacher, Jorge brings his perspective from Mexico, Renata her energy and stories from Macedonia and the Middle East, and Priscila, a school owner from Brazil. We discussed CR (Corrective Feedback) in all of these locations, a real sampling of worldwide situations.

A former JALT-er (Japan teacher) Jim McKinley co-authored an article on oral corrective feedback. A substack newsletter by “The Educationalist” talks about feedback in a wider educational sense, giving perspective on language feedback. And finally, a TBLT-adjacent topic has a new book on Evidence-based language teaching. Out soon.

So with all of these filtering in (and a solid note-taking/organizing/archiving system), I can take advantage of all of these.

Reading (Yesterday 1:08 Ch. 12, Today 0:48 Ch.13) and Blogging (0:47)

Previously: Announcement. Book. Selection 3Readings. FirstRead. BloodBrainBarrier.

Background: I’m preparing an 8-week course about TBLT for iTDi as part of their Great Minds series (not mine, the ones in the book). I am blogging about the process of preparation mostly for the fun of it. I was inspired by Cory Doctorow, an SF writer that does this with all his books. But it also helps me focus. This is even more exciting than teaching a grad school course. I’m looking forward to it and hope this might spark an interest.

Categorized as TBLT