Any A-level English teachers about?

(23 Posts)
whysogrumpy Tue 05-Nov-13 21:21:37

Dd is struggling with her English lit course at the moment. She did a piece of coursework last year but was not told that there was another piece to do this year. As a result, she has already used her favourite novel and cannot do a piece on it now.

She does not want to do the task being set by the teacher and has been told she can do an alternative. She has to compare a novel to some poetry and has chosen Atonement by Ian ?McEwan. She needs some poetry - apparently she can't do Blake, Wordsworth, Donne or Milton and it needs to be from a different period, so nothing modern. She will also be comparing them both to The go between.

Any ideas??? Teacher is not being very helpful...

soundedbetterinmyhead Tue 05-Nov-13 21:26:46

She's better off doing the task set by the teacher. That's because it'll be something the teacher knows about and s/he can help your DD with it and if he follows the instructions and reads the books, she'll get a decent mark. Especially if she is struggling - don't make it any harder than it needs to be!

BlackberrySeason Tue 05-Nov-13 21:27:54

Not a teacher at all but did English many moons ago. Can't she look at poetry about the themes that appear in atonement and the go between eg :

Love
Lust
Betrayal

Shakespeare sonnets?
Donne?

soundedbetterinmyhead Tue 05-Nov-13 21:28:48

Sorry - if she follows the instructions. PS - the teacher is probably not being very helpful because they are dreading your DD coming up with texts the teacher doesn't know and that's then a whole load of work for them just to mark one essay.

Slipshodsibyl Tue 05-Nov-13 21:38:25

Yes - unless she is very capable of independent research and study, it is best to take itsoundedbetter's advice. The teacher will have offered a range of questions covering a variety of themes in the texts s/he has chosen so there really ought to be something she can get her teeth into.

Which third text has the teacher suggested?

whysogrumpy Tue 05-Nov-13 21:51:19

Thanks but she really doesn't want to do what the teacher says. It is war novel and poetry - this is something she would find very upsetting and she doesn't want to do it for such a large piece of work that is going to take up a lot of time.

Tbh, we are both annoyed with this teacher because the second option (Jane Eyre) is out for dd because she based her Y12 coursework on it. If he had told her then that if she did that she wouldn't be able to study it this year, she wouldn't have done it last year. Now all her friends are doing that and she is left with the option of war.

Why shouldn't the teacher have to work to allow dd to do something she'll actually enjoy? He's made no third suggestion.

Tinlegs Tue 05-Nov-13 21:55:40

What war novel? Surely you (and your DD) don't expect the teacher to spend hours and hours reading and preparing because the texts chosen don't suit her? Really! War novels / poetry are meant to be upsetting and surely at 17/18 she should be able to cope with that. She is probably in a class of 10-20 pupils. Should they all be expecting the teacher to tailor the course to suit them?

Unexpected Tue 05-Nov-13 22:04:02

"Why shouldn't the teacher have to work to allow dd to do something she'll actually enjoy?" Are you actually for real? The teacher IS working for the entire class but heaven forbid that your precious daughter should have to fit in with anybody else!

I can't believe that your daughter was so unaware of the course content that she didn't know there would be a piece of coursework this year or what the topic should be - or is that the teacher's fault too? And now not only did she not know what she should be doing but she can't bring herself to be "upset" by the theme of this piece?

whysogrumpy Tue 05-Nov-13 22:09:23

Tinlegs She is supposed to get a choice - that's the point of c/w. Yes, war lit is meant to be upsetting but it is not a requirement that she does it - she's doing lit, not history.

Unexpected How is a 16yr old (as she was then) supposed to get an overview of the whole course? The teacher didn't give her one. There is no topic set by the exam board - the teacher has picked one he likes. How is that fair? She only wants help finding a suitable poet and she is prepared to work independently on it.

Any suggestions????

soundedbetterinmyhead Tue 05-Nov-13 22:12:49

Sorry it's not what you asked for whysogrumpy, it's not so much that the teacher is avoiding work, but that they will have schemes of work, usually developed in collaboration with other staff over a number of years and will suggest texts where themes spring out and offer the chance for students to do some good writing, explore themes and be a bit original too, if they are able.

As it is, your DD is casting about for texts to fit the criteria and this is not a promising start, particularly if she is struggling already - I might be wrong but from what you've written, I suspect that this is not her favourite subject right now. OTOH, if she was going to her teacher and saying "look how this novel chimes with this poetry and compares to this - I really want to explore these themes" then fair do's. This is just advice to get your DD a better mark, that's all.

soundedbetterinmyhead Tue 05-Nov-13 22:14:25

Sorry - crosspost with your last comment. No suggestions here. DH is A Level English teacher but has never read Atonement so couldn't help.

Slipshodsibyl Tue 05-Nov-13 22:15:57

Ok then for giving her the best support, I would suggest she does the texts the rest of the class are doing (ie poetry and whichever the other text is) and that she chooses a novel to replace Jane Eyre which will fit with similar themes. It shouldn't be too difficult . Which poet and second text are her classmates studying?
To be fair, there just isn't time for him to teach the three texts he has chosen for the class in addition to extra texts for you daughter. It is absolutely fine for your daughter to choose different texts but you both need to be aware that by necessity, she will be tackling a long and fairly complex essay mostly through self study. This can be great opportunity for students, but they need to be very strong students if they are to gain high marks. It will be safer to go with the texts he will actually be teaching (but in your dds case to self study one text in place of Jane Eyre)

Slipshodsibyl Tue 05-Nov-13 22:18:59

Why is war poetry more distressing than Atonement, by the way?

hellsbells99 Tue 05-Nov-13 22:32:30

Hi op. Your DD may be better asking for advice/suggestions on the Student Room. Hope she gets it sorted.

hellsbells99 Tue 05-Nov-13 22:33:54

Sorry x-Post with slipshod

mellicauli Tue 05-Nov-13 22:44:42

Could she compare contrast it with Othello? Plenty of betrayal/love/lust there. Also background of war, like atonement. I know it's a play but it is written in verse...

BlackberrySeason Tue 05-Nov-13 23:16:00

Ooh yes melli!

Tbh Atomement has a lot of very upsetting themes including war.

Slipshodsibyl Tue 05-Nov-13 23:22:29

I am sure she feels frustrated. If you haven't already done so I think the best thing would be for you to ask if you might both chat to the teacher. Then he can explain the scope of the coursework and the framework/requirements he has to work under. The scope of the task is wide but there are a lot of rules too which will be clearer to you if you talk directly. It really is quite a challenging part of her A 2 and rather harder than the work she did last year.

To suggest a poet whose themes tie in with Atonement and the Go Between in a way that a 17 year old can successfully write about and make links wih the other texts, but who is not a war poet is perhaps quite possible but I cannot think of one just now.

Dominodonkey Wed 06-Nov-13 23:13:55

Is it the three text comparison essay for OCR. I dot understand why she did different coursework than the others in year 12. You are correct that there is supposed to be independence in year 13, but not before. If she was goin to do Jane eyre would another bronte novel be ok?

Dominodonkey Wed 06-Nov-13 23:15:19

Also, are you sure it's supposed to be 3 novels? Most coursework requires coverage of poetry or a play.

Dominodonkey Wed 06-Nov-13 23:17:26

Sorry, poor reading there. How about Rossetti? Love, loss etc

Spongingbobsunderpants Wed 06-Nov-13 23:25:29

Has your daughter read Atonement yet? The later sections deal with war just so you're aware.

In terms of a female voice in poetry (to compare with the female protagonist in Atonement), she could look at the poems of Elizabeth Barratt Browning (Victorian period) which focus on love.

The Go Between may work with that too.

LizzieVereker Wed 06-Nov-13 23:29:30

Do you know which exam board it is? That would help me give suggestions. Of the cuff, I would look at comparing it with some Thomas Hardy poetry (lost love, regret, idealisation and disappointment) and Hardy is very accessible to a student working independently. If that's not challenging enough she could probably get somewhere with Tennyson (hubris, loss). She will probably need to refer to a third critical work as well, depending on the board.

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