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General Chat Thread, Michael Gove 'Axes' To Kill A Mockingbird & Other American Works From GCSE Syllabus in General; Originally Posted by Trapper Shakespeare needs to be seen, not read. You read the sonnets but ideally you see the ...
  1. #31

    unixman_again's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trapper View Post
    Shakespeare needs to be seen, not read.
    You read the sonnets but ideally you see the plays. When I was at school in the 1970s, the only things that we read in EngLit I liked was The Secret Agent (which is quite prophetic) and Shakespeare. It's such a shame Bill isn't putting out new material! I absolutely hated (and still do) Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Jude the Obscure, Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, The Yearling and Nineteen Eighty-Four which we "brainy" kids had to read. The lower stream students had Sword In The Stone, Robin Hood and Robbery Under Arms, which I do lilke. I have always believed that we got the same novels as our parents and grandparents had when they were at school. Give kids interesting books (not those considered "classics") and they will read.

    BTW, here is a good lesson about Shakespeare Horrible Histories William Shakespeare Song - YouTube

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    Quote Originally Posted by JJonas View Post
    So once the core texts that have to be covered have been studied how much time will be left to study To Kill a Mockingbird and Of mice and men?
    I really don't understand all the fuss. Sure, of mice and men and TKAMB are good books, but it's not as if " fiction or drama written in the British Isles since 1914" leaves exam boards with a paucity of choice for high quality writing.

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    Hated shakespeare when I was at school, could not see the point of any of it. Try to do a day at work and communicate just like the tosspot and see how long it takes to get a smack in the face.

    Im sure there are some things within Harry potter or LOTR that students can be interested in that can be used to teach with, it will tie in nicely with the termly 'dont plan a lesson just show them a video'.

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    As Helen Mirren said recently (and has said before), forcing kids to read Shakespeare is pretty well guaranteed to put most of them off. Especially if it's being taught by someone with no empathy, understanding or connection to the plays. Having read, watched, performed and directed Shakespeare (pretentious little sod, ain't I), I'm quite happy that the plays are bloody amazing, the language is a piece of cake and the stories flow like a dream. BUT, if you suffered under some poor sod who had to try and force an understanding of the texts into a relentless sequence of teens over an interminable number of years, with any interest s/he might have had in the task atrophied to nothing under the yawning disinterest of said teens, then it's not surprising nothing connected.
    Some kids will connect, though. Like my daughter, all by herself. Which is great.

  5. #35

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    Shakespeare is too dependent on the teacher teaching it and I am OK with it staying out of the syllabus until A level
    But such books as TKAMB are well loved - my 25 year-old did it at school and although he doesnt read much except thrillers now, he remembers it with fondness. And his girlfriend loved OMAM
    Dickens can be great - Oliver Twist brings in all sort of concepts and can be used to spark discussions about child labour, workhouses, and all sorts - but some Dickens is not at all relevant for young people today and very hard for them to get a lot out of.
    It is the sweeping statements that upset everyone - why should we only study British texts? What advantage or relevance does that have in the real world?

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    On that basis I'd argue Great Expectations introduces some decent talking points as well; particularly in areas of the country where the class divide is more pronounced than others, for example. Though I'm not sure it's considered "done" to actually talk about that to the kids who can be very much subject to it!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ephelyon View Post
    On that basis I'd argue Great Expectations introduces some decent talking points as well; particularly in areas of the country where the class divide is more pronounced than others, for example. Though I'm not sure it's considered "done" to actually talk about that to the kids who can be very much subject to it!
    It does, if it is taught properly. Much of Dickens does, as I said, but some of the more obscure ones such as "The Old Curiosity Shop" are more difficult

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    Having listened to an interview with the guy who actually formulated the concept on PM yesterday, wasn't entirely surprised to discover that the whole "it's Michael Gove's fault and he hates <x>" wasn't the case at all. The core of the policy is that teachers can choose to teach books they want to teach, within the constraints given as to period and type. Professor Bate's (or it might have been Bale) suggested replacement for the "modern" strand represented by Harper Lee and Steinbeck was Zadie Smith's White Teeth, on the basis that books from the first half of the last century aren't actually that relevant to kids' experience. Which is fair enough, really. We did Steinbeck 40 years ago, and it felt archaic then. Mind you, I was more into Larry Niven and JG Ballard and John Wyndham and Michael Moorcock and...

  9. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcstru View Post
    I really don't understand all the fuss. Sure, of mice and men and TKAMB are good books, but it's not as if " fiction or drama written in the British Isles since 1914" leaves exam boards with a paucity of choice for high quality writing.

    I think it is about choice, it looks to me as if so many core texts are to be required reading there simply will not be time to study other texts. Therefore limiting the teachers choice by the back door.


    Michael Gove 'Axes' To Kill A Mockingbird & Other American Works From GCSE Syllabus-boejshucyaakk9y.jpg
    Last edited by JJonas; 28th May 2014 at 10:10 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JJonas View Post
    I think it is about choice, it looks to me as if so many core texts are to be required reading there simply will not be time to study other texts. Therefore limiting the teachers choice by the back door.
    So how many texts are "so many"? I see four; one Shakespeare play, poetry from 1789 on including the Romantics and a 19th century novel, as well as a work of fiction or drama originating from the British isles since 1914. So that's three books and a poem being mandated. I would think in four years of English at secondary school, there would be reasonable opportunity for a few more books. Is it really limiting teachers by the back door?

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcstru View Post
    So how many texts are "so many"? I see four; one Shakespeare play, poetry from 1789 on including the Romantics and a 19th century novel, as well as a work of fiction or drama originating from the British isles since 1914. So that's three books and a poem being mandated. I would think in four years of English at secondary school, there would be reasonable opportunity for a few more books. Is it really limiting teachers by the back door?
    GCSE isn't taught over 4 years, and KS3 has its own curriculum to follow. You're talking about 4 specific texts over 2 years. Not to mention, not everyone attends a secondary school like that, there are still many middle schools so their secondary education is split between 2 schools.

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    I was personally gutted to hear this because I read To Kill a Mockingbird at school and it's still one of my favourite books - I think there's some really important themes in it and it's still really relevant today (particularly the stuff about prejudice).

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    Fortunately, possibly due to the virtues of being educated in Scotland, Shakespeare and alike were only a requirement if you took Higher English (A-Levels?)
    As I only took Standard Grade (GCSE) it wasn't - though it was touched on.

    I had a right good mix of book and subjects during school and have grown up to love reading.

    We had a Recommended reading list that included a range of genres ( I recall "The Hobbit" and "The Colour Of Magic / Light Fantastic" being on them)

    I think if I had had the "classics" forced on me I wouldn't have the love for books that I do now, and my grasp of spelling, grammar, and punctuation* would be terrible.

    *Note the use of the "Oxford Comma" there



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