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Teaching to the Task

Discussion in 'English' started by Cthulthu, Apr 26, 2012.

  1. I work in Scotland but have some experience of the English system. I have to say the discussion above is deeply depressing. What on earth is the point of just reading a few scenes from one of the greatest plays ever written, other than achieving whatever it is you guys have to achieve (not much better up here!). Years ago, the then SEG employed me to mark KS3 papers (I could see why when I met my markers group- the pub scene in Star Wars). When I began marking the compulsory Shakespeare paper, what struck me was that the pupils really knew the scene well, but weren't answering the question in the paper. It was only halfway through my marking that my TL told me that schools were informed in advance which scene was going to be asked about. Later, I learned that many schools didn't even read the whole play, just a synopsis fore and aft of the key scene. In other words, pupils were just regurgitating learned notes about something they didn't understand. It was so long ago, there may even have been a T**y government. Plus ca change, plus c'est la same old ****.
  2. gruoch

    gruoch Established commenter

    'Macbeth' is one of Shakespeare's shortest plays and has the advantage of having no extant sub plot to consider.
    When I'm teaching it to able pupils, I focus on the language between Macbeth and Lady M. It's incredibly illuminating and really gets them thinking. If you'd like detail, PM me.
  3. thequillguy

    thequillguy New commenter

    I admire this thread, and the values expressed within in. I feel I must add more weight, though, to the art of refining the supporting necessary for those who are disaffected with the study of English in general.

    All pupils are aware that there cultural capital in Shakespeare, and that for them to access and respond to it is (of course) an empowering thing. However, to encourage pupils to do this isn't through force of will (although that isn't being implied in this thread) or even (I think) inherent in all its language. It is in the considered teaching (with all its uncertainties) that benefits from focussing on specific parts of the play.

    Of course, with even moderately talented students this is not necessary. I'm talking about the vast swathes of youth with reading ages below 10 who require a pass grade in Shakespeare in order to obtain their English qualifications.

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