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Mr Prophet
May 5th, 2004, 11:47 AM
I was planning an English lesson today, and it struck me:

Half the writing objectives in the National Literacy Strategy (a work of Satan, by the way) involve taking a studied text and either reinterpreting it, retelling it from a character's PoV, or - I swear to God - adding additional characters, dialogue or scenes; including alternative scenes.

No wonder fanfic is booming!

Mar9645
May 7th, 2004, 04:43 PM
As in nature, I abhor a vacuum. The zero in the replies column for your thread falls into that category for me.

I don't know what the National Literacy Strategy is. I've never heard of it here in the U.S. so it must be from _______________ (please fill in the blank?) What age group, grade is it geared to?

Actually, it sounds as if it could be a kick in the rear to certain little darlings of the school age persuasion to make them think in a creatively literary mode for a change. Of course, only the really talented ones would produce anything remotely worth reading.

If I'm way off base and haven't grasped your point, I'll shut up. Just let me know.

Mr Prophet
May 7th, 2004, 04:48 PM
The NLS is a pain in the rear, devised by (UK) Government employed yahoos to promote the dubious pluralisation of 'literacy'! I'm not a huge fan, as you might have gathered. It's a shame, since the accompanying National Numeracy Strategy is actually rather good.

Of course, I learned English and Maths, but there you go. Mutatis Mutandi.

Mar9645
May 7th, 2004, 05:05 PM
Mutatis Mutandi.[/QUOTE] ?

I worship the English language above all others. Even the Catholic school nuns couldn't get me to idolize Latin in the same way.

Is the problem that poor texts are chosen or are the concepts of interpretation and analysis not being grasped by the little darlings?

Mr Prophet
May 7th, 2004, 05:29 PM
The problem is that it's all bits; here a grammar, there a spelling. It's a mess, but we do with it what we can because so many schools have adopted it as part and parcel with the National Curriculum (about which they have no choice) and the National Numeracy Strategy (which as mentioned above is actually worth the paper it's printed on).

Major Clanger
May 7th, 2004, 11:53 PM
Those of us who went through school in the late 60s and 70s would be turning in our graves if we were already in them.

er...

Actually, right up until the adding new characters & scenes (IE fic-ing other people's work as part of schoolwork) sounds ok.

And provoking discussion with... "when they went off at that point, and we didn't hear about those characters again until this point... what might they have been doing" might get the little darlings thinking about the bigger picture, and not just the narrative presented to them.

Or "would it have worked better if x-character was gay/alien/straight/someone else entirely?"

Actually, it sounds interesting. But then... I already do it to Lord of the Rings so I'm one of the great unwashed already!

Mr Prophet
May 8th, 2004, 03:09 AM
Or "would it have worked better if x-character was gay/alien/straight/someone else entirely?"

Actually, it sounds interesting. But then... I already do it to Lord of the Rings so I'm one of the great unwashed already!

I'm glad to say that for all its flaws, the National Literacy Strategy does not require us to turn our young charges into slashers.

Major Clanger
May 8th, 2004, 04:21 AM
well, I didn't suggest it did... I don't ONLY write slashfic you know. Although in view of the political correctness that goes on in schools these days,you never know.

Would they lose marks for slashing?

Madeleine
May 8th, 2004, 05:48 AM
My friend's son had studied Macbeth for his GCSE. The exam came up with questions like "Macbeth aroused suspicion when he saw Banquo's ghost after he had had him killed; write about an experience you had where your guilty conscience betrayed you" and "Three witches told Macbeth that he would be king, but he didn't believe them; write a scene in which three strangers make unbelievable predictions about your own future". Oh dear.

On the other hand, missing scenes and extending the premise of a book or play aren't always entirely awful. I'm quite keen on Rosencrantz & Guilderstern Are Dead, and I know a lot of people rate Wide Sargasso Sea highly.

Mr Prophet
May 8th, 2004, 05:56 AM
On the other hand, missing scenes and extending the premise of a book or play aren't always entirely awful. I'm quite keen on Rosencrantz & Guilderstern Are Dead, and I know a lot of people rate Wide Sargasso Sea highly.

True 'nough; well, R&G anyway, I'm not familiar with the other.

I studied Macbeth for my GCSEs, back in the day, and I can't remember what we had to do with it. I clearly recall writing two essays on Twelfth Night, the year before, which could have been subtitled: Happy days for the divorce lawyers and Everyone's a fool, respectively, but all I remember about Macbeth is that our teacher vanished halfway through and I spent most of the remaining time arguing with the substitute about Macbeth and the Divine Right of Kings.

The first teacher was a fool; she believed that Shakespeare was toadying by saying England was better than Scotland, but that seems an odd way to suck up to James I.

Mr Prophet
May 8th, 2004, 05:57 AM
Would they lose marks for slashing?

I honestly don't know. I'm glad to say it's not a circumstance I've ever had to deal with.

Mar9645
May 8th, 2004, 04:17 PM
Those of us who went through school in the late 60s and 70s would be turning in our graves if we were already in them.

My school days were a little earlier than that here on the other side of the big, salty "A". Public school (in New York City) in my time was already in herd mode academically. Guess they weren't prepared for the Baby Boomers.Thank goodness I switched to private Catholic school before it was too late.

It hasn't improved with time or location. Back in the '80's I worked at a local university in the Visual & Performing Arts Department. One young man who had a part in the spring semester play had only heard about one Shakespeare play in high school and he was from one of the small suburban towns that supposedly have good, locally funded school systems.

The bits and pieces, whether nationally or locally mandated, don't leave much room for the Humanities anymore, which explains why creativity is, in my opinion, drastically on the decline. The continuity of our world - literature, history, art, music, philosophy - aren't as important now as they were in past generations. Add to it the decline in the social sciences (I was a sociology major in college which is why I love the Daniel character so much) and the hard sciences (the stuff that's in REAL scifi) and it gets pretty depressing. Each generation seems to be losing a degree of knowledge and connection to this world's past and present, leaving less and less to pass on for the future. It reminds me of the soma-drugged ordinary people of "Brave New World".



Actually, right up until the adding new characters & scenes (IE fic-ing other people's work as part of schoolwork) sounds ok.

And provoking discussion with... "when they went off at that point, and we didn't hear about those characters again until this point... what might they have been doing" might get the little darlings thinking about the bigger picture, and not just the narrative presented to them.


Here's where consistency and follow through on the ideas and applying them to all literature from cave drawings to contemporary lit (very selectively, of course) make the difference. Pluralization in literacy doesn't mean squat without teaching the little darlings to connect it to their life and the real world. Some of the posts I've read on this forum are so empty of interpretation, analysis and true discrimination as to what's good and what's out and out crap, I've given up posting on many subject threads.

There's a great deal of badly written fan fiction but at least these people are trying. A small percentage of it is absolutely brilliant - strong story lines, great characterizations (especially keeping true to other writer's creations), deep emotional roots (happy, sad, exciting, introspective), wonderful dialog. In some cases, the fan fic is even better than what some professional writers produce. The literary schizophrenia that was Stargate SG-1 Season 7 is a perfect example. The good fan fiction writers still know who these characters are.

I apologize for rattling on so heavily. I don't get many chances to express these thoughts.

By the way, has anyone ever given a thought to Major Paul Davis being gay? You know, we REALLY don't know anything personal about him.

Teeheehee!

Wordsmit2
May 12th, 2004, 03:58 PM
My friend's son had studied Macbeth for his GCSE. The exam came up with questions like "Macbeth aroused suspicion when he saw Banquo's ghost after he had had him killed; write about an experience you had where your guilty conscience betrayed you" and "Three witches told Macbeth that he would be king, but he didn't believe them; write a scene in which three strangers make unbelievable predictions about your own future". Oh dear.

That *is* pathetic.

The first supposes 1) all children have done things about which they feel guilty, and 2) the child given the assignment has ever suffered a guilty conscience *and* let something slip. I'd certainly have proven *my* writing ability with the volume of protest petitions this assignment would have inspired. Try to project your guilty adult consciences on me, will you?!

The second doesn't ask the writer to have a point. Nor does it ask for what they called "creative writing" when I was in school. Am I right in assuming it is merely an exercise in writing sentences, not in writing a narrative? --Probably not.

Madeleine
May 12th, 2004, 04:19 PM
True, and it also requires absolutely no knowledge of the play. These questions could be answered equally well by children who had seen and studied Macbeth, children who had skimmed the comic-book version, and children who had no idea who this Mac fella is.

When I did my GCSE English, I had to write an essay about Macbeth's state of mind as he says the " 'twere well it were done quickly" speech. I'd studied the whole play, analysed dozens of different bits in practice essays and memorized huge chunks that I stilll remember today (and which, incidentally, have been quite handy over the years, helping me to 'get' many an allusion, joke or metaphor). If I'd waited a few years though I could have saved myself a lot of bother actually *learning* or *studying* stuff.

Wordsmit2
May 13th, 2004, 03:24 PM
True, and it also requires absolutely no knowledge of the play. These questions could be answered equally well by children who had seen and studied Macbeth, children who had skimmed the comic-book version, and children who had no idea who this Mac fella is.

D'oh!

The fact I didn't notice that says entirely too much about my education, I think.

Then again, I did read it. In school.

(I saw the Sean Pertwee post-apocalyptic TV version too.)

Major Clanger
May 14th, 2004, 09:47 AM
The bits and pieces, whether nationally or locally mandated, don't leave much room for the Humanities anymore, which explains why creativity is, in my opinion, drastically on the decline. The continuity of our world - literature, history, art, music, philosophy - aren't as important now as they were in past generations. Add to it the decline in the social sciences (I was a sociology major in college which is why I love the Daniel character so much) and the hard sciences (the stuff that's in REAL scifi) and it gets pretty depressing. Each generation seems to be losing a degree of knowledge and connection to this world's past and present, leaving less and less to pass on for the future. It reminds me of the soma-drugged ordinary people of "Brave New World".
Ain't that just the truth!! And we can learn so much from history... or not. Apart from anything else it gives us a better appreciation and understanding of what we have now. And where would nostalgia be without history & humanities?


Here's where consistency and follow through on the ideas and applying them to all literature from cave drawings to contemporary lit (very selectively, of course) make the difference. Pluralization in literacy doesn't mean squat without teaching the little darlings to connect it to their life and the real world. Some of the posts I've read on this forum are so empty of interpretation, analysis and true discrimination as to what's good and what's out and out crap, I've given up posting on many subject threads.
Ah yes... thinking about the consequences of what you say/write... that should be taught more.


I apologize for rattling on so heavily. I don't get many chances to express these thoughts.
Rant away, but I think you're preaching to the converted in this thread!!


By the way, has anyone ever given a thought to Major Paul Davis being gay? You know, we REALLY don't know anything personal about him.
Only about a gazillion of The Lady Writers of Slash ;)

eideann
May 14th, 2004, 11:50 PM
** Poking my nose in tentatively. **

I went to high school in Sacramento, CA in the late 80s and we had these things called "Novel Contracts" that were a different take on the inevitable evil of the book report. They gave us a list of maybe fifteen options and we had to choose five of them as our project. The options included things like:

Imagine you're a character in the book/play/etc. Write a week's worth of diary entries from that character's point of view.

Write a scene from the book as if it were a play. If you're reading a play, write a scene from the play is if it were a book.

Write a monologue from the point of view of one of the characters in the story and act it out for the class. Be prepared to answer questions as if you were the character.


There were lots more but these are the only ones I can recall off the top of my head. The trouble with assignments like these, as has already been pointed out, is that they're pretty easy to flub your way through. I hate to admit it, but I did just that with Oliver Twist. If you're any kind of a writer, you can find a decent scene in a play, read just that scene thoroughly and produce a reasonable narrative version of it, or vice versa. The monologue is tougher to do without reading the full text of the book or play than the other two are, but by no means impossible.

Mar9645
May 15th, 2004, 04:36 PM
** Poking my nose in tentatively. **
Poke away. Expressing your opinions on the state of the Earth's grey matter is good exercise.


There were lots more but these are the only ones I can recall off the top of my head. The trouble with assignments like these, as has already been pointed out, is that they're pretty easy to flub your way through. I hate to admit it, but I did just that with Oliver Twist. If you're any kind of a writer, you can find a decent scene in a play, read just that scene thoroughly and produce a reasonable narrative version of it, or vice versa. The monologue is tougher to do without reading the full text of the book or play than the other two are, but by no means impossible.
Congratulations! You're the one in probably several thousand who actually remembers those elements and uses them the way they were meant to be applied in the real world.

What has always bothered me about the poor state of literature education is that many children with potential writing talent aren't given the extra
jump-start many of them need to go further. Writing is a very introspective, isolating activity. Without encouragement, the talent gets lost in day-to-day reality.

Mar9645
May 15th, 2004, 05:06 PM
Rant away, but I think you're preaching to the converted in this thread!!
True, but here I know someone is really listening. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!


Only about a gazillion of The Lady Writers of Slash ;)
I'm not a slash reader because I don't see the four SG-1 characters that way. Actually, I'm proud to say I'm a diehard Daniel/Janet shipper and will continue to be despite that repellent two-part episode in the second half of Season 7.

Characters like Paul Davis are basically a mystery, so if he turned out to be gay, I wouldn't be traumatized. Would you recommend some good Major Davis slash, your own and some of the other Ladies? :confused:

eideann
May 16th, 2004, 10:37 PM
What has always bothered me about the poor state of literature education is that many children with potential writing talent aren't given the extra jump-start many of them need to go further. Writing is a very introspective, isolating activity. Without encouragement, the talent gets lost in day-to-day reality.This is very true, but in today's educational bureaucracy, many talents get overlooked or disregarded. The emphasis is on quantity, not quality.

I taught high school English briefly -- very briefly -- and, at least in my neck of the woods, discipline is at an all time low. It's difficult to teach the little darlings when you're busy trying to keep them from killing one another or you. But we have to graduate as many as possible . . . I could ramble on for hours.