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 12/071: Choose Life!

‘Why would I bother watching Titanic, when I know how it ends?’ Silence …

BH trainspotting_uk

Ponytail Shakespeare read-through.  Romeo and Juliet:  Prologue

As a trainee, I remember ‘inheriting’ R&J from the usual teacher on placements. Twice.  And I vividly remember teaching the Prologue to a top set of smart, welcoming, wonderful students.

This was the class that christened Romeo the ‘pervy monkey boy‘ after watching Zeffirelli‘s interpretation of the balcony scene.  Thanks, Hannah – I will never forget that.  They’re also the bunch that did the ‘Mean Girls‘ recreation of Act III, scene v.  They made ‘fetch’ happen!  So much for ‘Two households, both alike in dignity‘ …

Despite the brilliant memories, I wonder if it’s significant that I have never, since, opted to teach the play, now that I am largely in charge of my own destiny?  And for PTS purposes, what can we, can I, pull out of these fourteen lines that hasn’t been said before over the last 400-years?

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Forensic Friday (#05): RIII – V.v.61-65

Richard III is fooling very few of us with his inclusive pronouns …

BH freedom

I’ve had to take a week out, basically, through pressures of work.  It could easily have extended into a fortnight, but to paraphrase Lord Foul – the Sauron-style character in Stephen Donaldon‘s Chronicles of Thomas Covenant – I am ‘stubborn yet’.

So, where were we?

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Forth, and Fear No Darkness …

“DO panic tomorrow. For 5 minutes. Then dive in.”

BH ride of the rohirrim

Tomorrow is the Year 12 end of year exam …

150 minutes.  Three questions, on Richard III, Edward II, and Tennyson‘s ‘Maud‘.  And despite my best efforts, my class have been increasingly panicked, increasingly convinced that a ‘U’ grade will result in their being kicked off the course.  Most of my free periods this week have been taken up in reassurance and revision.

It’s been contagious:

Open your ears! For who could possibly block them when loud Rumor speaks? (2HIV)

And it’s been unhelpful.  For a certain type of student, fear of failure is the biggest barrier they have to succeeding.  Whoever propagated this ‘you’re getting kicked out’ myth needs a kick in the codpiece.

One of the latest things I asked my students to consider was the contrast in pre-battle speeches between Richard and Richmond.  Which inspired me to email them my own, a short while ago …

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QotW: 25 June 2018 (#47)

All the world IS a stage, where Richard is concerned …

BH chameleon

Year 12 face their mock exam this coming Friday, with varying degrees of panic.

So, this week’s QotW is actually a BOGOF offer.  I often talk about Richard III being a ‘season finale’ to the History plays.  The chameleon quotation above comes from the penultimate episode, as you might remember, people.  Richard is – at least until it all begins to unravel for him – the consummate actor.

But don’t just take my word for it:

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Forensic Friday (#4): RIII III.ii.39-42

 

BH mexico germany
A nice positive GIF for my Y12 class … you CAN score, people!

‘SQUEAKY BUM TIME’:  the point towards the end of a football game, or season, when you hold a slender lead but are almost shitting yourself, in case something goes horribly wrong …

– – –

I’m publishing this with a exactly a week to go before my Y12s face their end of year exam –  a full exam on everything we’ve done this year: Tennyson‘s ‘Maud’; Marlowe‘s Edward II; and of course, Richard III.  Evidence suggests my students are in full ‘squeaky bum’ mode, despite my best efforts to reassure them.  And, hey, it’s the World Cup:  if Mexico (one of ‘my teams’ can hang on to a 1-0 lead for an hour against Germany, I think you can hang on to what I have taught you this year for another seven days?

You know what to do: especially (for the first question) if you have been reading these …

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