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Of Mice and Men

Discussion in 'English' started by bluebell81, Jan 1, 2012.

  1. I am looking for suggestions on activities related to the historical context of the novel, for a middle ability Yr10 class. I have planned a lesson that looks at the results of the Great Depression, but I could use some ideas that will help me look at Steinbeck's life. So far I have questions to research on the internet, but I'd prefer something a bit more interesting. I am wondering whether I should read the first section of the novel, and then look more closely at Steinbeck's experiences and how they are reflected in his work?

    Thanks.
     
  2. gruoch

    gruoch Occasional commenter

    What is this for?
     
  3. lizgaskell

    lizgaskell Occasional commenter

    Hey Blubell
    Some stuff on conyext is good but I wouldn't go too mad. I usually do stuff on The Great Depression/ Wall Street Crash so that they know how hard things were for people then. You can even lead on the Credit Crunch we are experiencing now.
    If this is before they read it find some Youtube stuff (there is LOADS) on the historical context and maybe do some empatheic responses like diaries. The most marks for CA will be gained through very close textual analysis.
    Liz

     
  4. hardbastard

    hardbastard New commenter

    I don't like Of Mice and Men that much. It only gets taught because it's short and many depts can't be ***** to rise to the challenge of perhaps teaching a different text at GCSE. It's been getting taught at this level since about 1970. Time to retire the damn book I think. George and Lennie do my nut in. And so does Curly's wife.
     
  5. gruoch

    gruoch Occasional commenter

    That's why I asked. Context isn't that important. I play Woody Guthrie stuff and show a ppt of slides of the dust bowl and Salinas Valley to get their reactions.
     
  6. I am teaching Of Mice and Men for a Controlled Assessment with WJEC. I think maybe you're right and I am getting too bogged down with a small element of the overall assessment.

    Thanks
     
  7. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    That said, huge marks are available for sophisticated interpretations of the text and the writer's ideas and, since the novel is largely Steinbeck's message about how society should and shouldn't work, the context is highly relevant.
    I spent a lot of time teaching my class to begin with a tiny detail from a passage, and use it to explore language, Steinbeck's ideas as a whole and the novel's context. I appreciate that social and historical context isn't explicitly mentioned within the mark scheme, but when the writer's overall message is entirely linked to the context, it must surely be explored.
     
  8. gruoch

    gruoch Occasional commenter

    In which case you should be teaching that it was originally conceived as a play/screenplay rather than a novella and was performed on Broadway (with the script wtitten by Steinbeck) in 1937.
     
  9. anteater

    anteater New commenter

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-12829392
    Link to an article from March 2011 about why "Of Mice and Men" still gets used in schools - some of it supports your view, some of it doesn't.
    The OP is doing WJEC; for AQA, if you use OMAM for the English/English Language Extended Reading CA, social historical context is not one of the assessment objectives, but if you are using it for the English Literature exam for section B (Exploring Cultures), relating the text to social, cultural and historical context IS assessed.

     
  10. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    Indeed I do, especially with the current year 10 who have completed the Extended Reading assessment on setting within the novel. They've all managed to write about how the structure of describing setting at the start of each chapter lends itself well to screen and stage adaptation; they've even managed to make it sounds pretty interesting, rather than the usual repetetive paragraph you'd see in the old coursework.
     
  11. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    With regards to choosing 'Of Mice and Men' over some perhaps more challenging texts, I must admit that I do think there is room for improvement in many departments. That said, now that pupils must study two novels for the exam and, potentially a third if not doing a crossover for Lang/Lit it does make it easier to cover a short novel that the teacher is familiar with and can teach easily, particularly given the structure of the novel which allows pupils to focus on a particular section of the novel rather than attempting to cover the novel as a whole. For instance, a question of Curley's Wife allows the pupils to cover just two or three extracts from the novel (of a few paragraphs each) and elaborate in lots of detail, thus scoring more highly than an attempting to write about, perhaps, Jack in 'Lord of the Flies' which requires covering a far larger chunk of the novel.
    Furthermore, many schools have stuck with OMAM because they simply cannot afford to purchase new texts.
    Personally, I've stuck with it because I'm in a new post, teaching two new subjects (A level Language and GCSE Media Studies) which I've never taught before. My year 11 class were left in a bit of a state by the previous teacher and we needed to redo much of their controlled assessment to bring it up to a reasonable level (obviously different texts and tasks). So, sticking with the familiar was the sensible choice this year, although I would like to try something new next year.
     
  12. OM&M is a good text for WJEC Lit Unit 1. As we put students in for this unit at the end of Year 10, I feel that OM&M works well. For the Unit 2 exam, I'm going to teach Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha while most of my colleagues will teach either Never Let me Go or About a Boy All challenging texts in their way, so a more straight forward text for U1 seems reasonable, especially as it contains so much good writing.
     
  13. j_pink

    j_pink New commenter

    Agreed!
     
  14. ukred

    ukred New commenter

    I hope this book is NEVER 'retired'. I teach in EBD, mainly boys. They are captured by it and not much does that! They also show real sympathy/empathy with the characters, after the treat of the violence! Blood and tears......they love it. They are all low ability and I need all the help I can get. It's a damn good story too.
     
  15. I'm with you. I love it and while it's moving some of my class to tears every year (hastily hidden, I might add) I think it's worthwhile.
     
  16. bacardibreezer

    bacardibreezer New commenter

    One of my brighter students asked why George doesn't just shoot Lennie in the first section and be done with! I am inclined to agree; however, as mentioned before, it has engaged the lower ability boys.

     
  17. gruoch

    gruoch Occasional commenter

    Doesn't seem a particularly bright comment to me, but maybe the child is spectacularly self centred.
     
  18. Did your "brighter student" pull the wings off flies and torture small animals as a child?
     

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