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Were you taught English well when YOU were at school?

Discussion in 'English' started by 80KSharp, Mar 28, 2011.

  1. I'm a year 6 teacher and seem to spend ALL of my time either researching, planning or teaching what I think are really exciting English lessons. Thinking back to the eighties though, when I was at Primary school, I'm not sure that my teachers did the same. I vaguely remember having a text book of grammar exercises to work through day after day- I don't ever remember my teacher actually teaching.
    What do you guys think? Did our primary teachers work as hard as we do now?
  2. gruoch

    gruoch Occasional commenter

    None of my teachers had the NC to contend with. Lots of learning by rote a junior school - and I know my tables backwards.
    Lots of spellings.
    Lots of handwriting practice.
    Oodles of reading for pleasure. Comprehension was something quite different.
    Dictation. I'm going to re-instate dictation.
  3. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    As long as it's differentiated, I'm a great believer in dictation.
  4. markuss

    markuss Occasional commenter

    Primary. We did arithmetic, English, nature study, scripture, handicrafts, bit of sport and a bit of country dancing (which I hated). Can't remember anything you'd call history or geography or science. Oh, yes, a bit of drawing and painting.
    English was reading fiction and writing stories mainly. Bit of drama. We learned how to act out "The Highwayman" when HMI were coming in but they never saw it.
    Not much was made of the 11+ but we did practise it once.
    Grammar school English was poor by today's standards. Very limited - and the grammar teaching was Latin grammar pretending to be English. No phonics (but we did learn about phonics and phonetic script in French).
  5. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    The one bit of science I remember learning made a huge impression on me. The student teacher [I think he was being obbserved] was so stressed out that his spittle dried in white flakes round his mouth. He collapsed a large petrol can Before Our Very Eyes! I love that poor scared boy to this day for the simple fact that I've never forgotten what he taught me. I hope he had a brilliant career.
    I loved the nature stuff and the singing. Despite being a catholic school and having to learn hymns, we also learned hundreds of traditional songs of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. I still sing them and, when I get the chance, teach them.
  6. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    Sorry to go off topic.
  7. EmmaBB

    EmmaBB New commenter

    Yes I absolutely loved my English teachers at school. Uni lecturers made my faith wobble but I'm here as testiment to them.
    (And yes, to the one who might read this, it includes you!) Although I will never forget the night my A Level techer took us to Sylvia Plath's grave in her Nissan Micra in the howling wind and rain. I nearly wet my pants with fright.

  8. Clarerees

    Clarerees New commenter

    Nope. I often wonder about this too. The main skills I gained from my grammar school education are also dictation and 'looking as though you're listening when you're not'- something which I've actually found very useful in later life. I never once remember an English teacher giving us a worksheet, doing a starter or plenary and, to be fair, on the one occasion we were given drama we all grumbled about having to get out of our seats. Generally the English teachers walked into the lesson with the text, which we read and then analysed (or dozed through). That was it.
    Can you imagine doing that now? I honestly don't think I've ever taught a lesson in which I didn't have a range of different activities for the students.
    And, erm, I know this was posted about Primary.....I don't remember even being taught English at that stage, other than writing stories or listening to one being read.
  9. gruoch

    gruoch Occasional commenter

    I've just remembered 'Music and Movement' and we used to do English Country Dancing in the playground (back to juniors, now).
    Drama wasn't part of the curriculum at all when I was at school, so how I ever developed my love for it - and I've worked as a professional in drama for most of my life - I'll never know. Think it must be in the DNA.
    I loved grammar school, but I'm of an academic bent.
  10. I think I went to the same primary school as markuss and gruoch! Did you do 'Singing Together' too?
    Grammar school English was mostly Shakespeare (2 plays every year, read in their entirety) and classic novels (Brontes, Hardy, George Elliot & Dickens are those I remember - also read in their entirety). Poetry was Keats & Wordsworth and miscellaneous poems whose authors I don't recall. Some work on grammar and precis (a very useful skill) and 'essay' writing; essays as an art form rather than for passing exams with. I think it would be called 'creative writing' now.
  11. Was it well taught? Not particularly. It was quite boring most of the time...I loathed every single one of those classic novels.
  12. CaptGrimesRetd

    CaptGrimesRetd Occasional commenter

    I've always thought the precis quite useful.
    I probably mean:
    I think precises useful.
  13. Cervinia

    Cervinia Occasional commenter

    I did plenty of reseach that involved copying words and definitions from a dictionary day after day. Never did me any halm.
  14. I was taught in Glasgow and was given the best education money couldn't buy. Grammar and punctuation was a mandatory element in exams. When I trained as a teacher (four years at teacher training college) I had many lessons on how to teach formal grammar lessons. I don't want to upset anyone but as a GTP/NQT Tutor (in England) I am appalled at the standards of literacy in some trainee teachers. I think we've have lost a culture of having highly educated and literate teachers - then again, many now just need to be box-tickers programmed to meet exam targets.
  15. baitranger

    baitranger Occasional commenter

    I clearly remember my very first secondary Geography lesson. It began entertainingly, almost inspiringly, with the teacher-I regret that I can't remember his name now-spinning the globe on his desk dramatically before the class and saying in a histrionic, loud voice: "The World".
    Even though we'd all had a pretty good idea that that's what it was before he told us, the drama remained intense, as he paused for effect, to let the astonishing fact he'd imparted sink in.
    After that, I can recall only dull anti-climax: I believe we were then issued with exercise books and the next word I can remember him saying was in a much more mundane tone of voice, weary and somehow lacking in freshness was: "Dictation". And really, that was the exciting and interesting part of Geography over - in about three minutes. The following five years' Geography lessons were filled almost exclusively with dictation, punctuated only very briefly with the occasional test or severely administered punishment for not paying attention or for having untidy handwriting.
    Of the content of the dictation and of the pages and pages I filled I can remember almost nothing, which I think was also the case back then at the end of the Geography course, after five years. I vaguely remember the term "alluvial plain" droned by him in a totally bored voice, but that's about it.I honestly couldn't tell you what an alluvial plain is,even if you paid me.
    I suppose that it must have been even more boring for the teacher than it was for us, and in a way, when I think about him how, his regulation worn, badly fitting green harris tweed jacket with the obligatory leather elbow patches, I can almost feel some sympathy for his plight, back then,so many years ago.It must have been so tedious giving the same old notes as dictation.over and over again to generations of purile schoolboys, one of whom-not me of course, and I forgot this until this very moment-was caught masterbating in the back of the class: a truly shameful experience, I'm sure ,but at least providing a bit of light entertainment for the class, particularly when he was caught.

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