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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:29 am    Post subject: Works we studied in school  Reply with quote

I know we’ve all discussed this before, many times, but it’s possibly a subject worth revisiting.

I was trying to recall the works I studied in my English class. I attended Bishopbriggs High School, a comprehensive school just outside Glasgow.  Although it was a comprehensive, we had streaming within each subject.

In Scotland (at least in those days), one sat the O-grade after 4 years in secondary school, and the “Higher” grade exams after another year (i.e. there’s only a single year between O-grade and Higher).

These are the works I most certainly remember studying in class. I am sure I am missing a few.

Studied by O-grade stage:

Shakespeare: Julius Caesar, The Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, Twelfth Night

Barrie: The Admirable Crichton

Hines: A Kestrel for a Knave
Sillitoe: The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner
Steinbeck: The Pearl
Iain Crichton Smith: Consider the Lilies
Eliot: Silas Marner
Orwell: Animal Farm

Owen: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori
Anthem for doomed youth
Dylan Thomas: Especially when the October wind
Shelley: Ozymandias
… some poems by Elizabeth Bishop & by e.e.cummings that I can’t now recall …


Studied by Higher stage:

Shakespeare: Hamlet
Brecht: The Caucasian Chalk Circle

Katherine Mansfield: The Life of Ma Parker (short story)
Angus Wilson: Necessity’s Child (short story)
Grassic Gibbon: Sunset Song

Orwell: various essays

Keats: Ode to a Nightingale
Keats: On first looking into Chapman’s Homer
Burns: Holy Willie’s Prayer
..and a few others, I think, that I can’t remember…



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Apple



Joined: 24 Nov 2008
Posts: 1751



PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh this is an easy post to reply to ...NOTHING!

I am unfortunately being deathly serious, I went to school where there were no comprehensive systems but a two tier high school and upper school system. (Still is).

High School - The Ghost of Thomas Kemp, the teacher read the book we followed it, he asked questions we answered them, thats all we did. That was in the first year after that we could just pick books to read and read them but nothing was ever checked as to who was actually reading and who was just pissing about.

I do remember we also very briefly touched on First world war poetry which is where I got my love of it from - we had a copy of Dulce et Decorum Est, Breakfast, and that Rupert Brook one - If I should die think only this of me etc etc... and we had to read them and say what they were conveying and why they had such different tones and the reasons behind it.  But as I remember we only did that for a couple of lessons around remembrance one year.

Upper school - by the time we got here there, we were hardly there anyway as it was the time of the constant strikes of the 1980's and we only "studied" one book The boys from the blackstuff, as it was on tv at that time and we watched videos of the episodes and read bits of the book in class, we didn't do the whole book, just certain bits like Yosser's heartbreaking scenes.

Again after that we just picked out books we wanted to read were supposed to study them, but considering we were hardly ever there, no checks were ever made to ensure anything was actually being done.


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Evie
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Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just wondering whether your parents read, Apple.  I know that for me, even though I went to a grammar school and we did read a lot and I remember some of my best teachers being the English teachers, it was my mother who instilled in me a desire to read.  She was from a working class background, had left school at 14 to help bring up her five brothers (along with an older sister) as their mother went out to work (her father died around this time), and yet she somehow developed her own love of art and literature.  I am sure family background can play a part.

But sometimes it's just the person themselves who finds their way - perhaps, as you were, inspire by something, even if not given a huge range of stuff to read.  I admire those people!  That's also where Himadri's point on the other thread comes in, though - if children aren't presented with things, they will have no chance to respond to them.

My school reading included:

Macbeth, Richard II, A Midsummer Night's Dream, A Winter's Tale, Julius Caesar

Chaucer's Prologue (not the whole Canterbury Tales)

Lord of the Flies, Shane (forget the author - who wrote that?), Animal Farm, Pride and Prejudice, a book of modern (20C) short stories of which the only one I remember clearly is DH Lawrence's The Rocking Horse Winner.

I don't remember what else, though I know there was more.  This was all up to and including O level - I didn't do English at A level.

We also had an English period each week when we had to bring our own books (or borrow one from the school library) and spend the hour reading, with the teacher monitoring our progress each week and asking for feedback when we'd finished a book.  I loved that.


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Apple



Joined: 24 Nov 2008
Posts: 1751



PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Evie Wrote:
Quote:
Just wondering whether your parents read, Apple.  I know that for me, even though I went to a grammar school and we did read a lot and I remember some of my best teachers being the English teachers, it was my mother who instilled in me a desire to read.  She was from a working class background, had left school at 14 to help bring up her five brothers (along with an older sister) as their mother went out to work (her father died around this time), and yet she somehow developed her own love of art and literature.  I am sure family background can play a part.

My mum doesn't read much, never has done, but my dad did, he had loads of different books around the house so it wasn't as if I never came into contact with them. I always remember something he said to me when I was a kid and said I was bored he said "read a book, you are never bored or alone when you are reading!" I think thats where I got my love of reading from at an early age, he gave me all his famous five and secret seven books and I just devoured them I loved Enid Blyton as a kid and read anything by her, and as I got older I picked up my dads Agatha Christie books (I think I have mentioned this before on other posts).  I moved on in my teen years to James Herbert and Stephen King but then sort of stopped reading altogether for a long while and then the Harry Potter books came out when my daughter was little and someone bought her the first three, she was too young to read them then but I think the idea was I'd read them to her! But I read them, got back into reading again - saw the Beeb board for the big read thing they did and the rest is history so they say, but I have to say I have learnt more through this board (in its various incarnations) and read far more than ever I did at school.

Its funny though the most books we did were at primary school, again the teacher read them and we listened, and then we had to write about it. I remember, we did lots of the Secret Seven books, Danny Champion of the World, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the giant peach.


Evie Wrote:
Quote:
We also had an English period each week when we had to bring our own books (or borrow one from the school library) and spend the hour reading, with the teacher monitoring our progress each week and asking for feedback when we'd finished a book.  I loved that.
I think that was the idea of what was supposed to happen with us, but the majority of the class just pissed about and didn't bother when we were there and because everything was so disjointed because of always being off with the strikes nobody bothered to check whether anything was being done or not.




Last edited by Apple on Wed Feb 08, 2012 1:06 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Evie
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Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember being read to a lot at primary school, and I loved it - The Hobbit and The Coral Island are the two I remember best, different teachers, and different ages.

And I remember Agatha Christie being the first books I borrowed from the adult section of the library, was probably about 12 - and I hid them under my pillow because I thought my mother would think I wasn't old enough!

I'm sure Harry Potter and the Philip Pullman books have done a lot to get children reading.  It also reminds me that the book most people read when I was at junior school was Lord of the Rings - not exactly a short book!  I didn't get on with it, but my sister had read it two or three times before she left school - took me until about a year ago to read it all the way through!  But I'm sure kids still read that, thanks partly (largely?) to the films.


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Green Jay



Joined: 13 Jan 2009
Posts: 1605


Location: West Sussex

PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can hardly remember anything I read at school. It certainly made an impact!

Lord of The Flies – maybe for O- level? I did actually read the whole of that book. Great Expectations - which I didn't read much of.

The Merchant Of Venice, Julius Caesar...we “did” a Shakespeare every year and read or acted out bits of it in the classroom but our English teacher was a very odd person and no good at either drawing out the themes of the text or drawing out our confidence in answering questions or discussing our ideas. She seemed to enjoy making people feel silly. We liked the reading/acting bit because it took the heat off actually coming up with answers; although some people obviously disliked it and were the dullest of dull readers. The Shakespeare was always an abridged schools version, too.

My next English teacher, for 0-level, was very sarcastic and put me off taking the subject at A-level. I loved books, but not set texts. In fact, I can’t look back and identify a single “inspiring” teacher in my school career who put me on track for future study.  Like Evie, though, we were read to a lot at primary level - a chapter or so every day which everyone sat quiet for. Though again I cannot remember specific titles - probably The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe was in there as I developed a serious Narnia addiction at that age. And maybe Alan Garner's The Owl Service, and Susan Cooper, though I definitely read those on my own as well. I think these stories in class had to be exciting, and appeal to  both boys and girls.

In French we, read Moliere, Camus, and ...er... Although I struggled with the language – having overreached myself by that stage ! – I think the discussions of literature were much better because the teacher loved the texts and was just a more confident, laid-back teacher.

I later did an A-level elsewhere. Wilfred Owen, Sons & Lovers, Tess, a bit of Chaucer. I can’t recall which Shakespeare.

We did not have a lot of books at home, apart from my beloved children’s books; a handful of thrillers and mysteries and rather tedious subscription book club books. But we used the public library all the time and my dad was a great reader. My mum loved books too, but had far less time for reading, I now see. My dad did not really communicate with me about his reading, though my mum shared her love of classic children's favourites.


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MikeAlx



Joined: 17 Nov 2008
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Location: Seaford, East Sussex

PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a selection of things I remember studying at senior school (it was a state grammar school, boys only). O-level set pieces are marked with an asterisk.

Poems
The Lady of Shallot (Tennyson)
Kubla Khan (Coleridge)
The Keeping of the Bridge (Macaulay)
Dulce et Decorum est (Owen)
The Highwaymen (Noyes)
A Case of Murder (Scannell)
The Naming of Parts (Reed)
*Sohrab and Rustum (Arnold)
*The Prisoner of Chillon (Byron)
*Michael (Wordsworth)
*Old Ballads (various/anon)
*Morte d'Arthur (Tennyson)

Short Stories
The Time Machine (Wells)
The Machine Stops (Forster)
The Lumber Room (Saki)
The Destructors (Greene)
The Soul Well (Ray Bradbury)
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (Sillitoe)
(+many other Sillitoe stories)

Plays
The Caretaker (Pinter)
An Inspector Calls (Priestley)
The Long the Short and the Tall (Hall)
Macbeth
*Henry IV Part I

Novels
My Family and Other Animals (Durrell)
Huckleberry Finn (Twain)
Brighton Rock (Greene)
A Kestrel for a Knave (Hines)
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch (Solzhenitsyn)
Animal Farm (Orwell)
Lord of the Flies (Golding)
Of Mice and Men (Steinbeck)
*To Kill a Mockingbird (Lee)



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chris-l



Joined: 27 Nov 2008
Posts: 731



PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2012 9:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was almost reduced to tears reading about Apple's school experience: if ever a case was needed for the importance of books in school, that example would be a potent part of the argument. Thank goodness Apple was able to come through and discover the joy of books through other routes, but there must be many others who never made that journey.

Looking back to my own school reading, at a Girls' Grammar School in the early 1960s, I was introduced to some wonderful books and writers and given a good foundation to carry me though a lifetime of reading. Most of the following I studied for 'O' level (1963) or 'A' Level (1965), but I think one or two titles may belong to the period immediately before that - and I am sure I have forgotten some others.


Chaucer      The Clerk's Tale

Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet
                 The Tempest
                 Hamlet
                 The Winter's Tale
(I also recall a school trip to the theatre to see 'The Merchant of Venice', but don't actually recall studying it in class).

Dickens        Great Expectations
                 Oliver Twist

Hardy           Under the Greenwood Tree
                  The Mayor of Casterbridge

Conrad          Lord Jim

Orwell           Animal Farm

Joyce            Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Lawrence       St Mawr/The Virgin and the Gypsy

Huxley           Selected Essays

Thomas          Under Milk Wood

Hughes and Gunn  Selected Poems




Last edited by chris-l on Fri Feb 10, 2012 9:19 am; edited 1 time in total
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Ann



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
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Location: Worcestershire

PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2012 2:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I too found most of the books we studied at school uninspiring but I can remember a few of them. In Primary School I don't remember much, just choosing as many pony books as I could find in the library! We had to read set books in little groups taking it in turns and I always used to read on; when it was my turn to read I had usually finished the book again! It was most frustrating. I do remember reading two books about Percy the Pig who wasn't inspiring and I'd read them at home anyway.
In the first couple of years at Secondary School we did a lot of Dickens - I remember David Copperfield and Oliver Twist. I didn't enjoy them although, again, I kept finishing the book rather than listen to the teacher talking about it. I must have read them several times. We did a few of Shakespeare's plays as well but, although I enjoyed them at the theatre, I didn't get anything out of reading them. We did Northanger Abbey and that stands out in my mind as the only set book I enjoyed studying ever. The teacher showed us how Jane Austen had parodied teenage girls and it was brilliant. I can remember reading She Stoops to Conquer too.  
For O Level I did The Franklin's Tale (Chaucer), Henry I Part one, some poetry I don't remember at all and Great Expectations. There must have been more but I can't recall them.
I didn't do A level, either, but looking back I suspect we didn't have a very inspiring English Dept. I was only taken by the head of Dept once as a member of the Upper Third (Year 1 in most schools) and she read us some of Lord of the Rings. She was fantastic and I immediately got it from the library and devoured the whole thing.
I always, in my mind, partitioned reading into enjoyable reading (at home) and boring reading (at School).
I went to a private school, part of the Girl's Public Day School Trust, and loathed it for every year I was there. However I think I was probably lucky, unlike Apple, as the discipline was fierce and although I tried to get away with as much as I could, quite high standards were expected.


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Mikeharvey



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
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Location: Lancashire

PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2012 3:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I taught at Forest Hills High School, New York, my least effective times were spent teaching books prescribed by the rather rigid NY syllabus.  I found myself trying to teach Lorraine Hansbury's 'Raisin' in the Sun' to an almost entirely black class who knew far more about the background to the play than I did.  I also tried to teach Laurie Lee's 'Cider with Rosie' (American title 'The Edge of Day') and wasn't very successful at conveying this so-English book to American students. I also  taught 'Pygmalion' and 'Macbeth' which was hard work - they came up with an enterprising array of spellings of Dunsinane I remember.  I think they should have stretched a point and let me choose my own texts.  
But it was a wonderful experience if sometimes daunting.  I can still see, in my mind's eye, Ashreth Knox ('you wouldn't want to go back to England with failing me on your conscience, Mr Harvey'), Sandee Bergman, Joshua Ballabon, Leroy Presley (suspended for carrying a gun), Harvey Schwartzberg, Alan Gottlieb,Tomas Garcia ('if any of these punks give you trouble, Mr Harvey, you just tell me') and others......



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