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Struggles with analysing literature - any way round this constant problem?

(65 Posts)
thathappened Sun 24-Sep-17 09:13:24

Help! It's a constant nightmare. I don't really know how to help. DD thinks my views are wrong but can offer nothing and so we have an ongoing nightmare whenever homework is about analysing a chapter(s) or characters. Can anyone offer advice??? Ways to deal with or get through this besides turning to the gin??!

NC4now Sun 24-Sep-17 09:15:53

What age is she? I'd stop helping her with her homework and refer her to resources like BBC bite size.
York Notes are good too, if it's a text they have them on.
She needs to do it herself.

Redsrule Sun 24-Sep-17 10:42:52

So she disagrees with your interpretation, that is fine but get her to explore why and write that down. Analysis is about what you don't think as well as what you do. Look at the PETAL/ PEDAL formats to see if they help her structure her response and let her mull it over herself. Being negative is not necessarily being wrong.

thathappened Sun 24-Sep-17 10:43:37

I only step in to try and quell her dismay which quickly turns to self-loathing at her inability. She has no problems with her other subjects it's just this one area. I've tried to say it's just your weak area and everyone has at least one but it does not help matters.

I think one of the problems besides lack of belief in herself, is that she really does lack the ability to fully understand how others might feel or how to express it plus a strong belief that it's not fact just made up and so a lie. She deals in fact not what might be.

So, anyone able to suggest how to deal with or help her?

thathappened Sun 24-Sep-17 10:48:12

redrule thank you for your reply I was obviously typing while your reply was arriving, What is the PETAL/PEDAL format?

Piggywaspushed Sun 24-Sep-17 10:48:13

If she likes facts then she needs to start looking at literature as having formulas and patterns. Honestly, factual types are often really good at poetry analysis as they can see metre and rhythm. She could also focus on historical context and how that helps her to understand what the writer means or wants.

What age is she and what texts is she doing?

MongerTruffle Sun 24-Sep-17 10:51:17

PETAL/PEDAL format?
They are ways of structuring answers. (Point, Evidence, Technique, Analysis, Link)
Alternative versions are:
PEE (Point, Evidence, Explain/Effect)
PEEL (Point, Evidence, Explain/Effect, Link)
PETE (Point, Evidence, Technique, Explain/Effect)
PETER (Point, Evidence, Technique, Explain/Effect, Response)
PETAIL (Point, Evidence, Technique, Analysis, Intent, Link)

thathappened Sun 24-Sep-17 11:35:35

Thank you, I'll print those out as it's what I try to get her to take in but seeing it in black and white each time might help. Also like the idea iof getting her to think of text as formula etc, that will hopefully really help. She's fantastic at physics, maths, loves reading but then having to explain any literature is such a struggle for her.

Piggywaspushed Sun 24-Sep-17 12:10:19

Have you contacted the teacher? It might e s/he could set a range of homeworks which suit different leaners? So you DD could go about he same task but in a different way.

So, for example, I just set a Macbeth Act Summary : but hey can do it as a timeline, a mindmap, a cartoon strip , or a flowchart.

Userwhocouldntthinkofagoodname Sun 24-Sep-17 13:36:07

Sounds exactly like my DC. Just keep your eyes on the prize of being able to drop it at 16 and all you have to do is pass the GCSE. There is no need to analyze any literature, just get the answers from somewhere like, as previously mentioned, York Notes and memorize them.

Its a temporary rock to climb, you dont need to crack it you just need to get over it by hook or by crook. Get all the main themes and characters on flash cards then factual questions and answers until they are off pat.

Post GCSE burn the books in a 'goodbye crappy literature for ever party' and like a phoenix from the flames 3/4 A Levels in factual subjects will soar.

Piggywaspushed Sun 24-Sep-17 13:40:03

OMG: do not EVER burn books! The Nazis burnt books!

OP seems somewhat keener to at least try and get her DD on board and the 'prize' should be a well rounded individual who get something out of all / most learning.

All subjects require more than facts and beyond basic GCSE everything becomes ethical/ moral/ analytical thoughtful.

We're not all Gradgrinds...

Piggywaspushed Sun 24-Sep-17 13:42:36

and memorising someone else's' thoughts is
a) plagiarism
b) not actually very easy
c) not necessarily the actual answer to a given question

My friend at uni memorised a huge chunk of a textbook, blurted it onto paper. It was marked by the professor who happened to have written he textbook.... he got sent down... that was in a 'factual' subject by the way!

Piggywaspushed Sun 24-Sep-17 13:44:19

Oh and btw OP says her DD LIKE READING!

Sorry, I just cannot let it lie if someone says burn books even in jest.
confused

semideponent Sun 24-Sep-17 13:49:59

You could see if Mr Bruff has anything online or on Youtube. He's covered lots of GCSE set texts.

TheOnlyLivingBoyInNewCross Sun 24-Sep-17 13:51:22

I remind my students that literature is just like other subjects: you use the correct terminology and show your working.

So in Maths, your DD wouldn't get full marks if she simply wrote down the correct answer without showing how she got there. Similarly, in Lit, she makes a point about a character and then proves her point with the evidence from the text that show how she got to that conclusion. And just as she wouldn't write up a chemistry experiment without using the names of the chemicals and the equipment, so she must use the names of the techniques she identifies in Lit.

It can be made to be very factual and formulaic if that is how she works!

realwoodlogs Sun 24-Sep-17 13:52:02

Have you considered a tutor? I'm an English teacher but would not be able to teach my own child. They often need someone neutral.

Go to basics though. Get her considering things like colour, and what it might mean (red=love, danger, violence etc) and weather. I like to use film examples as they can relate more at times (e.g. horror film, the bad stuff happens at night, in dark, rain, stormy, foggy weather. This helps set a tense/fearful/day/depressing mood).

Most texts st gcse will have these elements that can be discussed.

Also get her to select words and discuss whether they are positive or negative words. Who says that word. Does it being negative link to their personality at all.

Just a few basic ideas, poorly expressed here at typing on iPad with 3 year old jumping on me.

Ps. I do private tuition via Skype if you're interested ;)

TheOnlyLivingBoyInNewCross Sun 24-Sep-17 13:54:57

It's not a lie, either. Feelings are not made up or lies. The events that happen in texts may be fictional but the emotional truth is there. You don't say how old she is, but it can take a while for students to be able to develop the maturity to recognise this, though. For many, it doesn't really click until sixth form, when they begin to have a little more life experience and begin to recognise the heart of some of the texts they study.

thathappened Sun 24-Sep-17 13:57:19

beyond basic GCSE everything becomes ethical/ moral/ analytical thoughtful

^^ exactly piggywaspushed so I can only see it becoming an increasing problem as GCSE's really get underway.

Piggywaspushed Sun 24-Sep-17 14:03:50

So in Maths, your DD wouldn't get full marks if she simply wrote down the correct answer without showing how she got there. Similarly, in Lit, she makes a point about a character and then proves her point with the evidence from the text that show how she got to that conclusion. And just as she wouldn't write up a chemistry experiment without using the names of the chemicals and the equipment, so she must use the names of the techniques she identifies in Lit.

Good advice ; I do this too .

Piggywaspushed Sun 24-Sep-17 14:05:46

that this might sound crashingly obvious but have you had her looked at for ASD / Aspergers at all?

It won't help her to get better at English Lit is she is on the spectrum but it helps everyone else (and her) to understand her needs better.

thathappened Sun 24-Sep-17 14:08:31

Thanks all helpful. I'm going to read these out as she will appreciate it more knowing it's not just me saying it. I would love her to take up the idea of tutoring to help get over this but she won't even allow me approaching the teacher on her behalf. She is extremely shy but I'll check again about tutoring or speaking to the teacher.

thathappened Sun 24-Sep-17 14:38:51

I have wondered about ASD etc but it is really just this that stands out.

Lily2007 Sun 24-Sep-17 14:47:19

My DS is in y6 but have a bit similar issues, his view is the only one that is right. Author didn't know what they were talking about. School suspect he's Aspergers. He will answer questions giving his far superior and more detailed knowledge of the subject not helped the teachers say when the author is wrong.

Still dealing with this one but he responds best to breaking issues into small chunks and dealing with one at a time patiently but repeatedly. Also praise works better than any negativity.

I would discuss with the teacher as hopefully at secondary they will have come across this before and know how to deal with it. He is better with factual like grammar.

If she's getting stressed you maybe better to let her do it on her own and then the teacher will see what the issues are at least in the short term. If only you could study maths books in English DS would be fine.

Userwhocouldntthinkofagoodname Sun 24-Sep-17 14:56:35

Piggy I hope your comment about Natzis was light-hearted, because I know several families that have end of year bonfires with unwanted school books. Its a great celebration and stress reliever.

I am all for a, "well rounded individual who get something out of all / most learning". But one persons idea of what that is, another persons banging their head off a brick wall. Not because they dont like learning but because they are possibly slightly autistic their brain is just wired differently.

Having been through the ongoing nightmare op mentions I can categorically say the pain caused in trying to force a child to do something they physically cannot do causes MH and behavior issues that destroys ALL learning and teaches a loathing and hatred of studying in general.

This is NOT University this is GCSE literature and that will be dropped asap by kids like this. Children are taught to give the 'correct' opinion of the text as is expected by the examination boards mark scheme, they will be marked down hard for giving their own actual opinion.

Memorizing objective answers might be hard for a lot of people but ime, for these type of children, it is a hell of a lot easier than trying to force them to analyze something that they just aren't hard wired to comprehend.

It might not be, "necessarily the actual answer to a given question" but you can shoehorn in enough related objective facts you have learnt to get top marks. And in these children its all about getting good marks and moving on with their life to subjects that do work with how they think.

We're not all Gradgrinds We are not talking about everybody we are talking about some children who like the op's and mine find subjective thinking almost impossible but excel at objective thinking.

Oh and FYI my DC like reading as well, its just imagining then analyzing subjective feelings, motivations and emotions ... of fictional characters that is impossible.

in Maths, your DD wouldn't get full marks if she simply wrote down the correct answer without showing how she got there. Incorrect, if the questions asks what is x, you will get full marks for the correct answer irrespective of not showing your working. If the question is show that x=y then the correct answer is showing the memorized proof.

Have you considered a tutor? In all other areas this would be fine but in this one I suspect it will trigger tears followed by worse. No offence to tutors but they would be teaching the same thing as the teacher. Which will compound the problem. That way of thinking is just alien to some children, their brains dont work like that.

As pp mentioned, Mr Bruff on Youtube. Learn his opinion, regurgitate, get the GCSE and then, Burn baby burn! Disco inferno!- grin

Redsrule Sun 24-Sep-17 15:41:18

Sorry user but burning books is outrageous! You don't gave to keep them, give them to a charity shop, but to destroy them in this way is symbolic of a closed mind.

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