Pay attention, there’s a test (part 2)

At 18, students ought to be able to handle History plays, but the exam boards don’t seem to like them?

BH KS5 texts

Following my recent KS4 post, I extended my research to A Level – that is the exams taken by 18-year olds before they hit university.  Again, I’d love to hear from students or teachers, especially in other countries.  Here are a few thoughts of my own:

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Pay attention, there’ll be a test!

For too many of the 600,000 students who sit that GCSE, it’s their final taste of Shakespeare …

BH KS4 Shakespeare exam boardsShakespeare is the only author that everyone over here has to study.  Unless, it appears, you live in Scotland (and someone might be able to correct me on that if I have misread the SQA specification) …

‘For divers unknown reasons‘ as Richard III would say, I’ve been engaged in a little research of what our exam boards offer at Key Stage 4 – that is for the 15/16 year-olds who sit their GCSE English Literature.  I think it throws up some interesting points:

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PTS 11/069: I’ve Wasted Time …

Be careful what you wish for, Bolingbroke …

BH richard ii ben wishaw

PTS read-through – Richard II;  Act V

Why’s it taken me so long to get this one written? To get this play finished?  To ‘officially’ say goodbye to Richard II for a few years, given I have no opportunity to teach it at either GCSE or A Level?  That question probably contains its own answer.

Or, the fact that it’s Romeo and Juliet next …

You know – if you’ve been reading along – how deeply I feel an affinity for Richard’s journey.  Perhaps when I (eventually) get to the end of the PTS I’ll reflect that the ‘most important things are the hardest things to say‘, as Stephen King tells us [a].  It’ll be interesting to look back and see whether the plays I found harder to connect with came and went rather quicker.

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Quote of the Week: 21 May 2018 (#42)

Let battle commence: Shakesparring was the highlight of last week …

 

Friday found myself and a colleague sacrificing a precious free period (one of only four per week) for the opportunity to Shake-spar … and what fun it was.

Let me set the scene – one of our colleagues in the department was unwell.  She also teaches A Level Lit to Year 12, and would have done so in period 2, when I’m free.  Two of the students in that class are in my form, so I casually said to them in the morning that if there were ‘any problems‘ relating to that lesson, they ought to come and see me.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised to find about a dozen girls at my door at about 09:55?

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PTS 11/068: ‘Team Richard’ T-shirt Time …

The power of beauty vs. the beauty of power …

BH CSF14 RII 86647
Cambridge Shakespeare Festival 2014.  Image: ME

An emerging theme in my reading – and teaching – is the notion of being careful what you wish for.  For too many, Nietzsche’s ‘will to power’ is ephemeral, evaporating once a goal is achieved.  To others, it is an insatiable addiction. What links both is the outcome: unhappiness and deep satisfaction – the former cannot easily retain their newly won goal; the latter need another, greater fix of achievement.
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PTS 11/067: Know When to Hold ‘Em

Know when to fold em …

BH CSF14 RII 86564
Cambridge Shakespeare Festival, 2014.  Image:  ME

PTS read-through:  Richard II, Act III (part 2)

(in which Richard shows what a crap poker player he would have made)

An important lesson for students:  it is OK to disagree with a critical view – in fact OK to disagree with ME and my ideas.  As long as you can argue your opposition to a stance or point of view.  I’m about to take issue with  Germaine Greer

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Quote of the Week: 07 May 2018 (#40)

bh-politics-disraeli-ireland-irish-church-irish_church_disestablishment-csl0220_low.jpg

Mistrust might be too strong a word, but there was always a youthful rebellious streak in me (Catholic-educated in what was at the time a pretty Catholic town), pushing against what I increasingly viewed as the bastard child of The Party in Orwell‘s Nineteen Eighty-Four and a medieval Ponzi scheme.  The Catholic hierarchy increasingly personified notions of hypocritical middle-men, ‘eternal life’ assurance brokers, gatekeepers against the hereafter who would feed on the poor, vulnerable and frightened, whilst actually allowing anyone through, if the price was right.

Finally, I officially ‘fell out’ with God in a completely predictable spat  – over bureacracy, not the Bible; red tape, not redemption; compliance, not communion …

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