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Showing posts from January, 2013

The American Revolution: A Brief History

By the middle of the eighteenth century (1750), the English colonies in America ranged from north to south along the eastern side of the Appalachian Mountains. The French, dividing the loyalties of the native tribes in the region, claimed the lands west of the mountains and stretching on to New Spain (later Mexico). This forged a clear frontier, and a great deal British military investment was made in defending that frontier from the French, and those Indian tribes who sided with them:

Things soon changed though. This was a period in which the British Empire saw an extraordinary level of success and growth. In 1759 Canada came under Britain’s colonial rule, following the Battle of Quebec. In 1760 the vigorous and hugely popular George III ascended to the throne of England, and in 1763 the Peace of Paris effectively ended the French imperial domain in North America - ceding colonial domination to Britain on the East, and Spain in the South.

The new frontier in America, forged by th…

Google Translate for Academic Writng?

The other night, and in view of the fact that my students were facing an imminent submission deadline, I tweeted a number of hints and tips for polishing up essay drafts prior to submission. In all honest most of those suggestions were nothing more than the standard liturgy of procedures which any Stella Cottrell reader would doubtless be familiar with. The one exception was my suggestion that if a students first language was not English, and they were struggling to express an idea clearly, that they could try writing in their first language and then running it through Google Translate.

There were some incredulous responses, which quickly made me realise that adding such a tip was probably unwise. Not because such a suggestion might not benefit students in such a position but because the use of such resources really needs to be accompanied by some sort of explanation. Like a government health warning on a packet of cigarettes.

First of all, after a fair number of years teaching stud…

New Year Resolutions for a Balanced Academic

Today was my first day back at work, and I have to be honest I came with something of a spring in my step.  Despite the break I had managed to get some good work done so had little to fear from my email's inbox, and even better I had downloaded some of the cheerier songs from The Muppets soundtrack that had me fair skipping through the Stratford centre.

Of course, arriving at work to discover that a colleague had passed away the day before makes it difficult to sustain that level of enthusiasm, and as the day progressed my mood darkened and a more philosophic bent took its place.  Although it seems horrendously self-interested, the death of a colleague not much older than yourself makes you suddenly very aware of your own mortality.  I will not bore you with some of the more miserable and nihilistic thoughts which have revolved around my skull, but instead inform you that I have decided to do something I have never done before.  I have decided to make some New Year resolutions …