Other things done in lectures, or, Highly should not be allowed to improvise

After the somewhat dismal topic of my last couple of teaching posts, I feel something sillier is in order. When I gave the Roland lecture the other week, I didn’t end up doing a spiel about presentation methodology at the beginning, because I was sure I was going to go overtime. Instead, I ran undertime!

And then I decided that a good thing to do would be to educate the students, firstly, about the oft-discussed differences between epic and romance; and secondly, about how these differences are often overstated, esp.  as pertains to their chronological relationship (ie, they were actually synchronous genres, not consecutive).

A bath ducky with the text 'Silly Duck'I may have improvised the Epic Versus Romance Interpretive Dance. It goes something like this: “Over here we have EPICs! They are all about MANLY THINGS! And over here – *Jump, flourish* we have romance! They’re all about LADIES! *jump, flourish* KILL MEN! *jump, flourish* FUCK LADIES!” And so on, for a while.

It worked, for a given value of work – two weeks later they remembered the epic/romance binary when I asked them. Apparently one of my colleagues was told by a student that student liked my lecturing because I say “fuck”.

Really, I think all this needed to be a really excellent educational experience would be a set of elastics.* ‘Epic’ and ‘Romance’ are both nice trochaic words which would go well in a skipping chant…


* Apparently elastics is an antipodean quirk. There’s a good explanation here – the rhyme and sequence down the bottom is the one I remember; and a video of some NZ girls playing a variant here.


15 Responses to “Other things done in lectures, or, Highly should not be allowed to improvise”

  1. Regan Says:

    Your educating sounds awesome. As for elastics, we played it too in British Columbia, minus the rhyme, and under the somewhat more questionable name “Chinese skipping.”

    • highlyeccentric Says:

      Huh, interesting! I was at a performance poetry night thing run by British people who’d never heard of elastics before, and had incorporated elastics routines into their Australian tour because they found it so funny. An American friend who was with me had also never encountered the game.

      • Regan Says:

        I just looked it up on wikipedia, and apparently it’s fairly widespread under various names, and it actually is legitimately Chinese. Maybe we’re familiar with it BC because of the large and longstanding Chinese population?

        • highlyeccentric Says:

          Perhaps! I would then hypothesise that it should be well-known in places that had gold rushes and associated Chines immigration patterns (California, Aus, NZ)?

  2. Katrin Says:

    We played elastics when I was a child. Only we called it “Gummihupfen”. Comes with being German, I suppose. (Literal translation: “Elastic Hopping”.)

    • highlyeccentric Says:

      Huh. Maybe the five people I’d met who weren’t Australian and had never heard of elastics were just LIVING DEPRIVED LIVES.

      • Jonathan Jarrett Says:

        Me too, if so. Which is probably true, but not usually as far as playground stuff goes.

        • highlyeccentric Says:

          Well, yes, but you’re not a good test subject, due to being of the masculine persuasion. It’s possible that a thriving elastics culture could have been going on away from your boygerms, that’s the kind of age group we’re talking about.

          Which just means that lots of boys are living DEPRIVED LIVES. Elastics is brilliant fun! And if you have two chairs you can use them as stand-ins for friends, and thus, unlike complicated skipping games, you an play on your own.

          • Jonathan Jarrett Says:

            You will shocked to hear that at primary school at least I spent some time hanging out with the girls as well as with the boys, before the ages with two numbers began to make that a little bit more difficult. Also there were occasionally games of British Bulldog that involved whole yeargroups irrespective of gender. I don’t think I recall any other game that mixed genders though, not least because many of the girls’ games involved skipping as you say, and that seems to have definitely been thought of as unmasculine even by pre-teens.

            • highlyeccentric Says:

              … What’s British Bulldog? (I have a feeling this is going to be a variant on Red Rover Crossover, yes? Er. Everyone runs across a field and tries not to get caught by the person who’s representing the designated dog breed.)

              • Jonathan Jarrett Says:

                That fits my memory of it, yes. With a kind of zombie infection aspect so that eventually everyone except the winner is a bulldog. Now banned across most of the UK because of a high risk of injury, which I find slightly incredible as I don’t recall it being any worse than, say, catch, in that respect.

                • highlyeccentric Says:

                  Right, yes, I think that’s Red Rover. I wonder why you get different dog breeds for the same game?

                  • Jonathan Jarrett Says:

                    Well, if it were old enough to have been exported Britain to Australia, it would more or less have had to change name, wouldn’t it? And some of these games are very old, though I don’t know if anyone has tried to work out how old.

                    • highlyeccentric Says:

                      Well, being in Australia doesn’t actually mean it is VERY OLD. There was a big wave of british migration after WWII, I think (although mostly that period gets remembered for loosening up the white australia policy and accepting – gasp! – italians! greeks! poles!).

  3. Gillian Says:

    I don’t know whether to tell you that I played the game as both Red Rover and British Bulldog in the late 60s in Melbourne, and that there were no new post war Brits in the group. I think we were a bit more violent when we called it British Bulldog.

    Or I could ask you where Prise d’Orange fits in your dance, and could you please film it?

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