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GCSE English Literature - texts to be studied

(25 Posts)
BogeyNights Tue 31-Jan-17 17:17:59

My DS is in year 9 and about to take his options. We've been given details of the syllabus for some subjects, including English.

AIBU to be disappointed to see such turgid literature on his list of books and plays he'll study for two years? Namely...

Macbeth or Romeo & Juliet
A Christmas Carol
An Inspector Calls
Lord of the Flies.

I'm sure that they are all good books - I even studied a couple for my O Levels myself, 30 years ago!

Is there nothing more exciting, modern or relevant for our teenagers to study for a compulsory subject?

We are told as parents to encourage reading for pleasure and not to pressure our kids when they start reading in case we put them off reading altogether.

I just don't understand why we subject our kids (and teachers) to studying the same old books each and every year. All written by white men btw...

walruswhiskers Tue 31-Jan-17 17:19:21

Blame Gove. He wanted the curriculum of his childhood returned to schools. So Literature is now male, pale and stale.

LIZS Tue 31-Jan-17 17:23:27

Dd has done 2 of those plus Spies which is contemporary but she hated it.

Hulababy Tue 31-Jan-17 17:26:29

DD is in Y10. So far she has done A Christmas Carol, and is due to start An Inspector Calls later this year. She is also covering either Romeo and Juliet or MacBeth.

She isn't particularly enjoying A Christmas Carol. She has already read An Inspector Calls and really liked it at the time.

titchy Tue 31-Jan-17 17:27:51

Yep it's a reflection on Gove's wishes for only English texts, at least one Victorian text and one Shakespeare. Which leaves no room for anything else as they can no longer take the books into the exam so have to rote learn paragraphs...

TheOnlyLivingBoyInNewCross Tue 31-Jan-17 17:29:14

What texts have you read that you would recommend as alternatives?

woodhill Tue 31-Jan-17 17:29:26

Also it is probably to do with the school having the resources set up.

7SunshineSeven7 Tue 31-Jan-17 17:34:04

Uuuugghhhh I did Romeo and Juliet, and Inspector Calls. They're so bloody boring.

They encourage reading for pleasure then force kids to sit through class reading of dull books that no one likes. Making them pick it apart and telling them off for skipping ahead at home themselves. Can he do just English lang as his core and drop lit if its an option? Unless he's going to be doing English in college or uni, lit might as well be dropped.

dovesong Tue 31-Jan-17 17:38:34

I've taught An Inspector Calls multiple times and the kids absolutely loved it. I think it's quite relevant given currently political circumstances, actually.

There should definitely be a wider range of texts from authors from different cultures and countries though. The current curriculum was Gove's decision.

dovesong Tue 31-Jan-17 17:40:18

Also, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet are good options. They're easy to write about - which, when passing a GCSE, is the most important thing. Frankly if the kids think those plays are boring, they're being done a massive disservice by their teachers.

titchy Tue 31-Jan-17 17:40:33

Lit is compulsory in most schools now.

BogeyNights Tue 31-Jan-17 17:41:11

I have no suggestions I'm afraid. I just think it's striking that I as a 40 something read these books for my O Levels. And here we are 30 years later, with a 'different' exam - GCSE - and they are the same texts.

I've not read An Inspector Calls, but I've heard from a friend that she enjoyed it.

English Lit is compulsory. And rightly so, but I think that there is a time and place for Shakespeare et al.

Wolfiefan Tue 31-Jan-17 17:41:21

Get to a theatre to see Inspector Calls and the Shakespeare.
Lord of the Flies is a great novel. Most students find it shocking too and have good exam responses.
And yes schools have issues with resources and what the government says should be studied.

susannahmoodie Tue 31-Jan-17 17:42:46

He will do either Lord of the Flies or an Inspector Calls if he's studying the Aqa spec which it sounds like he is. He will also study a range of poetry which will have some more contemporary poems in. I've just written my masters dissertation on this very topic and the politics behind it (English HoD).

Just encourage him to read widely, with lots of contemporary stuff.

BogeyNights Tue 31-Jan-17 17:46:48

Yeah I'm just having a moan really.
I enjoyed Lord of the Flies and once I got the hang of Bill, I enjoyed Romeo & Juliet.
Maybe it's no different to learning the structure of an atom in Chemistry or how to do quadratic equations in Maths. It's just what you HAVE to learn.

DS enjoys reading really. I may read along with him and then we can chat and discuss stuff about the books.

PossumInAPearTree Tue 31-Jan-17 17:49:20

Dd has done lord of the flies, Romeo and Juliet, an inspector calls and another one which I can't remember. She quite enjoyed all of them.

woodhill Tue 31-Jan-17 17:54:08

Yes AQA used to do poems from other cultures and lots of Carol Anne Duffy etc, great stuff and agree Lord OTF is amazing plus WJEC did to Kill a Mockingbird and plays such as View from a Bridge.

panicstationscentral Tue 31-Jan-17 17:58:55

In our school we've had success with introducing film. Donnie Darko, Shutter Island, The Godfather etc. Kids love it!

panicstationscentral Tue 31-Jan-17 17:59:52

But I'm in Scotland. Don't know if you have that option?

eddiemairswife Tue 31-Jan-17 18:02:07

Did my O Levels many years ago...Richard 3rd; Youth, Heart of Darkness and The End of the Tether by Joseph Conrad; Longer Narrative Poems....Tam o' Shanter, Gray's Elegy, The Deserted Village. Those were texts that I probably would never have read of my own volition, but I enjoyed studying them, and am grateful for the experience.
I have always thought that books studied in school should be challenging, and not necessarily books that students would choose to read for pleasure.

AuntieStella Tue 31-Jan-17 18:09:02

The lit crit skills expected at this level haven't really changed that much and that's a perfectly good set of texts.

Not every pupils will like their set texts - whatever they are.

titchy Tue 31-Jan-17 18:38:27

English students have to do English gcse, so no Welsh equivalent unfortunately.

TheCakes Tue 31-Jan-17 18:45:12

But these kids haven't read these texts before, so they aren't old hat to them.

Michaelahpurple Thu 02-Feb-17 09:43:40

The cakes - such a good point! I organise a bookshop at my son's school and sometimes get attacks of "oh I am so tired of some of my year 5 choices" then remember that the year fives are different boys this year and just because I am over-familiar with the circa 100 titles doesn't mean that they are!
These are all books one can get one's teeth into and find lots to talk about - would be awful to have flog something slight for terms and terms

User1234567891011 Thu 02-Feb-17 09:57:29

TheCakes has a good point, however we did Shakespeare from Year 7. I had also already read Lord of the Flies, Of Mice and Men and Kit (my mother's recommendation and her O level reading.).

It doesn't matter what you read because you have to study the same book for a whole year and then the next book the next year. You go over it so much and you're only allowed to read it during the class at other people's speed (no reading on allowed) that its so easy to hate it.

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