Teacher as author;Interview;Julian Bowker;English

17th September 1999 at 01:00
Julian Bowker is media studies lecturer at Varndean further education college, Brighton. His book, 'GCSE Media Studies', is published by Hodder amp; Stoughton this month.

The knack of producing material for English and media studies teachers is to get hold of interesting clips that they wouldn't otherwise have the time to find.

I first did this kind of work in the mid-80s, as an advisory teacher in West Sussex, putting together material about tele-vision news and documentaries for English and media studies teachers. Later, as education officer at the British Film Institute, I also produced resources for art and personal and social education - including, once, advertisements for smoking from the 1930s with doctors recommending people should smoke.

I now teach media studies to GCSE and A-level further education students, which is great, because they are completely committed. In the early 90s, there were few media studies textbooks available, but now there's a bit of a glut, since GCSE and A-level numbers picked up in the mid-90s. The reason for my book is to tie in with the new media studies syllabus, which I also worked on.

In the book I've introduced the study of TV hospital dramas, such as Casualty, in place of soaps: I think soaps have been done to death. There is also more discussion of advertising: more advertisers, such as Benetton, are pushing the limits, and we can get access on the Internet to advertising judgments.

In terms of illustration, I've tried to get students to react more to visual messages - for instance, to look at what cartoonists have said in their work about the media.

This is my first complete solo book. I've enjoyed interweaving themes and cross-referencing ideas. The visual aspects of the book can also be more closely linked: you can lose sight of that when working in a team.

I was working on the book when my wife and I, who were adopting a child from China, were called there to collect her. After that, it was a question of burning the midnight oil to get it finished in time.

Teaching and writing is a very useful combination: the teaching gives you the chance to test and refine your ideas. My passion is to enthuse teachers, and try to get them to extend the range of what they actually do.

Julian Bowker was talking to Diana Hinds

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