1st Edition

Rethinking and Reviving Subject English The Murder and the Murmur

Edited By Pete Bennett, Louise Lambert, Rob Smith Copyright 2023
    254 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    254 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book invites readers to engage with the rich and complex debates of contemporary English education, outlining new possibilities to revive the teaching of English.

    Bringing together diverse voices and insights from educators in English across the primary, secondary, further and higher education phases, the book offers reflections and critical engagement with the lived experiences of English teachers and pupils in contemporary educational spaces. Each chapter includes example vignettes from classrooms which tell something of the story of English teaching today. The book considers how politics and policy have worked to close the opportunities of the English classroom for self-expression and critical engagement with the world – a murder. The authors then offer an exploration of the opportunities for a re-imagining of English – the murmurs of teachers and pupils that resist such closures. The chapters explore new thinking, new practices and new possibilities for English classrooms as inclusive, emancipatory, critical and creative spaces.

    Offering a thoughtful and hopeful dialogue from practising English teacher-researchers, the book will be essential reading for researchers and students of English language and literature education, as well as trainee teachers of English.

    The Preface. Reflections on English: ‘Goin’ Back’. Nick Peim

    Introduction. Rethinking and Reviving Subject English: The Murder and the Murmur. Pete Bennett, Louise Lambert and Rob Smith

    Part 1. The murder: Politics, policy and practice

    Chapter 1. English is shit! A post-modern murder mystery. Kirstie Harrington

    Chapter 2. Where has oracy gone? The curious case of the erosion of speaking and listening in GCSE English. Nic Worgan and Georgina Garbett

    Chapter 3. Is the English curriculum really suitable for all? Salya Akhtar

    Chapter 4. Rethinking, reimagining English in the post-16 sector; COVID-19 and the future of English. Joanne Bowser-Angermann and Elizabeth Draper

    Chapter 5. Against the clock: ‘Time for Literacy Hour, children’ – a critique of English policy in primary schools. Louise Wheatcroft

    Chapter 6. "A little bit of Jekyll, a little Mr. Hyde": Secondary English teachers speak of the tensions between their perception of English teaching and the systems they are required to serve.

    Part 2. Notes from the struggle: Engagement and re-openings

    Chapter 7. Zainab. Heather James

    Chapter 8. ‘Smallness, narrowness and servility’: Resisting English at university over 30 years.

    Chapter 9. Home education and English: The ticking time bomb of future need. Mel Carter

    Chapter 10. Making creative spaces - constraints and aspirations: The English curriculum from Key Stage One to Key Stage Three. Steph Perks, Jennifer Wells and Victoria Wright

    Chapter 11. Old books for hungry children: Negotiating definitions of cultural capital to support ‘disadvantaged’ children in primary school reading. Shaun Allen-Dooley

    Chapter 12. In your own write; for English wherever I may find her: De-territorialising writing. Pete Bennett and Howard Scott

    Part 3 . The murmur: Optimism, re-imaginings and ways to rethink English

    Chapter 13. The tentative: A modest proposal for a great leap forward. Shaun Passey

    Chapter 14. Possibilities for teaching English literature in posthuman times. Louise Lambert

    Chapter 15. Dissenting voices: Finding agency, authenticity and autonomy in the ‘luxuriant now’. Chris Waugh

    Chapter 16. English and the Lefebvrian ‘moment’. Rob Smith

    Chapter 17. Interrogating the listening practices of Mr Oxford Don: Teacher education, culturally sustaining pedagogies and raciolinguistic ideologies. Ian Cushing

    Afterword: Resources of Hope. Pete Bennett, Louise Lambert and Rob Smith


    Dr Pete Bennett is a Senior Lecturer in Post Compulsory Education at the University of Wolverhampton, UK.

    Dr Louise Lambert is an Associate Professor in the School of Education and Social work at Birmingham City University, UK.

    Dr Rob Smith is a Professor of Education at Birmingham City University, UK.