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Studying English without reading books!! Any teachers out there?

(23 Posts)
HmmmIwonder Wed 20-Mar-13 17:04:48

DD is in Year 10, A* target for GCSE far so good.. but never reads a book! They seem to study books in school by watching film interpretations. I am at a loss here, how CAN you study literature but avoid reading books? Why doesn't the teacher give them reading homework? I'm happy DD is doing well and all that, but I don't see how she can take the subject further without ever even picking up a book. Surely it can't be possible to go on to A level English as well, without actually reading anything? Where does it end - do English degree students never read either? I'd love to hear from an English teacher who could explain this to me because I'm totally shock hmm confused angry about the way the subject is being taught.

What exam board does she sit Hmmm? Also, do you know if she is doing English Language, English Literature, or both?

For GCSE English Literature (AQA board) she should definitely be studying a 'modern text', and the choices are Lord of the Flies, The Woman in Black, An Inspector Calls, The Crucible, a selection of short stories from an anthology called Sunlight on the Grass, DNA, Martyn Pig Kindertransport or Under Milk Wood.

Then for 'other cultures' the choices are To Kill a Mockingbird, Purple Hibiscus, Of Mice and Men, Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence and Mister Pip.

After this point it is a little more confusing but she should definitely be doing a selection of poetry and at least one Shakespeare text.

For English Language they do have to submit a controlled assessment on a reading topic, and most schools of course do one of the texts studied for English Lit. If she is definitely doing Lit, it's just unbelieveably lazy they aren't reading the text with them and I would definitely query this. To be honest I think she may struggle to reach her A* target with just a film to rely on!

Glup Wed 20-Mar-13 19:20:27

The problem is the massive syllabus. Assuming she is doing both lang and lit (and she might not be), it would be just about possible to have got to this stage without reading a book. For AQA, there are two creative writing CAs and one Spoken Language CA- none of which require books.

However, yeah, she wouldn't be able to make it much further without reading books (see poster above). Showing films wouldn't help very much, really, because the assessment criteria do require them to analyse in quite a lot of detail.

GirlsTimesThree Wed 20-Mar-13 19:23:56

I've just asked DD2 (yr12) and DD3 (yr 10) how many films they've watched for English. They both looked a bit nonplussed and said none, it's all books. DD2 did An Inspector Calls, Lord of the Flies and To Kill a Mockingbird. DD3 has done Purple Hibiscus so far and, being a bit vague about all things school related, isn't sure what will be next.
The exam board is AQA.

Tigerstripes Wed 20-Mar-13 20:39:30

With my year 11 we watched the films of an inspector calls and of mice and men. however, we have also read the books and read them again. And looked at extracts. And analysed quotes. And made mind maps with quotes. We have looked at the books so much that my year 11s want to stab me with them.
So I very much doubt that they have just watched the films. But if they have, your daughter won't get her A*.

Tigerstripes Wed 20-Mar-13 20:42:03

Ah, have just seen your daughter is in year 10. Maybe they're doing the books next year? They could have done spoken language, creative wring and poetry this year, for example. None of these need books.

HmmmIwonder Wed 20-Mar-13 21:03:03

Hi all, thanks for your posts. Yes, she's in Year 10, it's AQA. They've done Mice and Men, Romeo & Juliet, now Frankenstein. I say 'done' i.e. they've read bits in class, and, of course, watched films. But they never get told to 'read page x to page y by next week' for homework, which I would expect them to do. Should I contact the school, do you think? As I say, she is on target for A* so from the school's POV they're doing what they're supposed to....confused ?

Hmmm, it depends. It might be that some of the students couldn't be trusted with the books, to be honest - I'm wary about letting some of my students take the set texts home. Also, if different classes (say years 10 and 11) are doing the same texts then if one year group takes them home the other class can't use them. Unfortunately, we don't have enough money in the budget to buy a copy of the set texts for every student.

I think if I were you I'd ring the school and ask how your daughter has done in her controlled assessments so far - that will give a good idea as to whether she's on track to get her A* or not! smile

KingscoteStaff Sun 24-Mar-13 10:06:47

Have you made sure that she has her own copies of her set texts? My DS is a bit funny about writing in books (all those years of 'Don't scribble on the nice bear'), so I actually ended up buying her two - one for the book shelf and one for highlighting. Make sure the Shakespeare test you buy is the same edition as the school one so that the footnotes are the same.

Have you read all the texts so that you can talk to her about them?

webwiz Sun 24-Mar-13 13:30:21

DS (year 11) was encouraged to have his own copy of the set texts so he could read them, have them at home for homework and make notes in them. The school sent out letters with the details of which ones to buy.

Roisin Sun 24-Mar-13 13:51:18

ds1 is doing WJEC Lang and Lit. He says they've watched no films in class. They've read loads in class, but also had sections set for homeworks. He's read all his texts at least 2 or 3 times, and plans to re-read the exam texts again before the exams. (We bought him his own copies of all the texts.) His set texts are:
To Kill a Mockingbird
Lord of the Flies
A View from the Bridge
Romeo & Juliet
plus some poetry

BrianButterfield Sun 24-Mar-13 13:59:54

It's not standard in my dept to set reading homework as it too often just doesn't get done - however it absolutely is standard to read the entire text round the class (or in groups etc) and maybe also watch the film as reinforcement. The teaching is always on the text and not the film, however. I don't currently teach GCSE but my understanding is the texts must be clean for the exam, but if that's the case notes should be taken on paper.

littleducks Sun 24-Mar-13 15:08:29

I did AQA English Language and Lit years ago, U thought it was a lovely syllabus. We did 'A Merchant if Venice' 'Of Mice and Men' 'The Mayor of Casterbridge' 'An Inspector Calls' and an anthology of poems.

We didnt watch films back then but did have a trip to see An Inspector Calls in the theatre. It was pretty inspiring, I managed to persuade my parents to make a detour on the way back from Devon to check out Hardy country.

littleducks Sun 24-Mar-13 15:10:08

And looking at some of the other posts, looks like things haven't change much other classes did 'Lord of the Flies' and 'Romeo and Juliet'

sassytheFIRST Sun 24-Mar-13 15:19:07

I teach English at gcse. My year 10 classes will read the whole of Of Mice and Men but also watch the terrific film to support understanding (who knew what bucking barley was about before??), will read selected scenes of Romeo and Juliet but watch at least one film version. They will also read the whole of A Christmas Carol and Blood Brothers or A View From the Bridge. Watching film versions is extremely helpful in supporting appreciation of things like historical context. In the case of Shakespeare, his plays were written to be seen, not read, so watching them is entirely valid.

At A level, we read 2 Shakespeare and 4 lengthy, literary novels across 2 years. Less usage is made of films there, but we do still watch some as long as they are of good quality.

webwiz Sun 24-Mar-13 16:29:30

DS has watched the film version of Mice and Men last year but he was expected to read the book as well - I had to sign his homework diary to say that he'd actually read it.

This year he's watched the Leonardo de Caprio version of Romeo and Juliet but since the school performance last year was Romeo and Juliet the ones who took part have no excuse for not being familiar with the play!

bruffin Sun 24-Mar-13 16:39:59

We watched the recent version of Romeo and Juliet back in late 70s for o level.

IAmLouisWalsh Sun 24-Mar-13 20:51:07

Edexcel Lang and Lit teacher - we read all of Of Mice and Men and Animal Farm, plus a lot of poems and significant chunks of Romeo and Juliet or Macbeth, plus a modern play like The Crucible.

I use the film versions of Mice and Men once we have finished reading, and R+J as we read, because we can't afford a theatre visit. But the reading is crucial given the way the exams are set up. Daren't send books home, though - they never get read and never come back!

BeckAndCall Mon 25-Mar-13 10:04:15

Not an English teacher but a mother with three kids all with an A* in both language and literature.

Hmmmm you say they've never been told to read the book for homework. Why does she have to be told to read the book they're studying? Why not, I don't know, just read them? Seems an obvious thing to do......

It's clearly obvious to you yourself - just tell her to read them!

balia Mon 25-Mar-13 18:51:35

Agree with BeckandCall, I would never dictate to a top set the pace at which to read a novel, but that doesn't mean I have told them not to read it! Of course she should read it - if the school haven't supplied her with her own copy (and many can't afford to as the book has to be 'clean' when it goes into the exam so they can't replace all the copies lost/dropped/put in the washing machine/eaten by dog/scribbled in).

Also, there can be lots of crossover with film interpretations and CATs, so with such a packed syllabus they may well be using the time twice - reinforcing the knowledge of the plot/characters etc and using the film as a stimulus for creative writing etc.

balia Mon 25-Mar-13 18:52:38

Sorry - lost track a bit - if the school haven't supplied one, just buy her a copy. (was what i meant to say)

BackforGood Mon 25-Mar-13 19:10:54

ds (now in 6th form, and, ironically, studying English Lit) rarely had to read a whole book in the first 5 yrs of school. They tended to study "a text" (what I would call an extract). Wierd.
Fortunately, he's always loved reading, and I persuaded him to get a full copy out the library for some of them - it just pusts everything in context.

Mind, when he asked for a reading list last June (having a good 10 weeks between finishing GCSEs and starting 6th form, and, as I say, being a person who reads a lot anyway) the school said there isn't one (this is for Eng Lit, remember). I e-mailed and queried it myself, if case he was pulling a fast one, and they repeated what they said to him - "wasn't decided yet which text they were studying... no need to do anything before the course starts..." shock
So I don't think it's just your dd's school!

Floralnomad Mon 25-Mar-13 19:17:47

She is probably supposed to read the books ,they don't set it for homework its supposed to be common sense that you know to read the book . Having said that my son got GCSE A* and a B at A level without actually reading the whole of any book ,so it is possible to get good grades without bothering .

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