Thursday, 14 May 2015

Figuratively speaking

If I never see another Eng Lit GCSE text again, it will be too soon. That's a shame because the chosen texts have a lot to offer until , that is, you've had to pick them apart with a fine tooth comb for the purposes of passing a GCSE exam.

I've just read and re-read ( and read aloud ) youngest son's texts - his English Literature  exams are next week. The poetry anthology has been given the same treatment. It's been unpicked to within an inch of its literary life and every linguistic device has been identified in microscopic detail as if under investigation by a Scene of the Crime Officer . It truly takes the joy out of every word, sentence and paragraph ( list of threes) like a dementor sucking the joy out of a scene in a Harry Potter film (simile) . We've been fumbling around the footnotes ( alliteration )  of every poem for clues as if our lives depended on the evidence ( hyperbole) ..... I could go on .

I'm wondering if there's a better way to teach English. I know we have to encourage tomorrow's writer's to know their onions ( idiom ... no this is getting silly now ) and that the best way to appreciate the writer's art is to study the mechanics of writing but do we have to strip it down like a greasy engine ( ooh exciting - an extended metaphor ) or could we not just read books and talk about the power of words ( a touch of personification ? ) and their influence on us ? Just imagine a class full of year 11s coming in to school , talking about what they felt, imagined and experienced from what they'd just read . Books can truly mesmerise us ( metaphor - no STOP this now ) , change our lives, enrich and empower us but not if it puts young readers off for life.

I'm off to pour a large glass of wine having spent the afternoon dissecting the works of the ever cheerful ( irony ) Thomas Hardy . Enough faffing around trying to finesse the finer points of figurative language ( a spot of alliteration )  -  a nice robust red Rioja awaits ( yes ... you know what that is  ) .

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