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What is turning students off studying English at A level?

Discussion in 'Education news' started by TES_Rosaline, Jul 31, 2019.

  1. gainly

    gainly Senior commenter

    I wonder how much choice of A levels is influenced by perceived future job prospects. Maths and science subjects are seen as leading to a number of possible careers. At least half the A level chemistry students I have tutored over the years were doing it because it is an essential requirement if they want to study medicine rather than because of their love of chemistry. English doesn't have any obvious application apart from becoming an English teacher.
    afterdark likes this.
  2. steely1

    steely1 New commenter

    This is it. Certainly in the schools I've been teaching in in recent years, the relentless drive of STEM subjects has had an impact. I know STEM is sometimes appropriated by some schools as STEAM to accommodate the Arts, but that is too rare.

    As recently reported in The Guardian:

    Writing as an English teacher myself, I feel like we're fighting a curriculum and rising tide of students and parents who are intent on reducing English to a "by numbers" subject: "How many quotes do I need for this essay?" "How long is an acceptable length for this essay?" "Why do my marks never improve?" (in spite of continuous feedback) "Why haven't we analysed this word / line?" "The other classes have done so much more than us and have annotatations on all pages of their texts!" "P.E.E. P.E.E. P.E.E.".

    I still love teaching my subject but there are times when I just can't help but sigh.
  3. BillyBobJoe

    BillyBobJoe Established commenter

    If it's any consolation teachers of STEM subjects are under constant pressure to have class discussions and give detailed written feedback because that's what English and humanities do.
    SundaeTrifle and blue451 like this.
  4. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    Oh we can go further than that...

    The curtains closed him off from the world, a symbolic barrier between his internal world and the external, a world he has consciously rejected. The blue represents nature and his desire to create an artificial reality in which he can dwell. Blue being tranquil it symbolises a search for tranquillity and a rejection of the chaotic world beyond.

    There we go
  5. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    And we're told we have to do because we are the exemplar department leading the school forward in our detailed feedback. Uuurgfgfghhhhh...
  6. baitranger

    baitranger Occasional commenter

    Has someone been preventing them from going into their local public library and taking out books? Do they have no books in the home? Of course the problem is deeper and more complex than a limited school curriculum. Most young people don't read books, and many rarely read anything other than a simple page on their phones. Their parents don't read and to many young people, reading a whole book on their own seems an impossible , extremely difficult and unpleasant task.
    Try giving them a simple vocabulary test and you may be surprised at the very limited number of words they know. How can someone read good novels when they don't know the meanings of a quarter of the words in the books?
    The problem is a product of the long term decline of UK education, general dumbing down, massive grade inflation and corruption in the system.
    Mrsmumbles, peter12171 and Alldone like this.
  7. Mrsmumbles

    Mrsmumbles Star commenter

    I think I can help with another nugget! I taught A level Literature for many years. As tech evolved, interest in reading for pleasure has, I feel, waned. And yes, Gove’s meddling has really put them off. But another thing? Many 9f the top local private tutors won’t or can’t offer A level Lit, even if they enjoy it, because it goes against the sense of the business model for tuition. Much of tutoring, I have discovered, is the other side of the school looking glass...we work in the holidays, we start when school ends, we go over misunderstood or missed out topics. Now a lot of these kids really scraped through and think Lit is a doss. Some will have been spoon fed to puking point by teachers. Some just really struggle. They almost all have coursework. The critical theory and textual analysis is often too big a step up. Well...self- employed tutors cannot really read eight set texts per student and they don’t want to get roped into ‘helping them’ with their coursework either, plus the online essay helpers (forgers) supply that market....so there are the reasons, really.

    It is not hopeful. I worry that this generation are poorly read and struggle to infer, reason or analyse in convincing depth.

    Ah, Gove. You envisioned sunlight uplands of Blakean kiddies gambolling over the literary lawns of Defoe, Pope and Milton, but in reality, you turned an entire generation of demanding reading because you murdered when you dissected literary enthusiasm and reading for its own sake.

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