Obscure text choice – requires confidence to go ‘outside of the box’ – many other great texts to choose from, so why Orwell? Explain the reasons behind me choice – be honest, wanted to do Yeats or Hamlet but poetry was stolen and had HSC marking experience of how poorly Shakespeare was done in Module B.
HSC Marking experience suggests that many teachers simply do not know how to approach (or teach) Module B. It has become a controversial module, as the BOS have changed their interpretation of it significantly over the last 8 years. We won’t get into the politics of it. Essentially, teachers find Module B difficult, and this is reflected in their students’ responses in the HSC examination.
This is how I view the English Advanced course. It helps the students also, as they know what there focus is to be in their responses. The best responses – those that manage to get into the elusive A range – dedicate their discussion entirely to the text. Their analysis is tight, and this is reflected in their evaluation of the texts language, forms, features and structures which in turn informs their appreciation of its enduring significance.
This is an approach to teaching Module B. You can teach it explicitly to the students (in that they can actually indicate which ‘frame’ they are currently looking at the text through) or you can use it as a way of programming for Module B. I do the former – I like the students understanding my teaching method, plus I think it also helps them understand the requirements of the module better. It is NOT expected that students discuss the frames in their extended responses. STORY: Students saying ‘I found Harwood boring and irrelevant’.
The DER has opened up numerous possibilities for online communication of ideas. For the last three years I have successfully used blogs and wikis for my senior classes. It must be remembered that within three two years time, our HSC students will be constantly connected thanks to their netbooks.
The name of the book is on your handout!
Too much time spent in class on context can really confuse the students. They think that this must be very important, and therefore retell all about it in their essays. This is a great big no, no! Only teach what is relevant to developing an understanding of the text being studied. If students are interested – let them research at home!
History kids love this – capitalise on what they know. I appointed ‘captains’ to lead small group discussions about the world at the beginning of the century. I’m an English/Drama teacher – they had the knowledge that I didn’t and I used them as a source of knowledge. Once again, don’t labour it – make it interesting. Relate it to their world – what ‘ism’s are around today. What is more popular – trashy novels (aka Twilight) or literary fiction? What do more people watch, romantic comedies or foreign or art house films? Why?
This is the stuff that English teachers know and love. This is why I love Module B. It’s one text that we can look at really closely, pull apart, investigate and consider what it means to us and why it is valued by so many people.
First time any of my students had studied essays at school. Always had to write them, but only ever had student exemplars as models (or teacher-written hack jobs) and never professional writer as essayist. We brainstormed what they knew about essays. This really affected the quality of the essays that were written – they became more aware of the structure, language and logic needed for a great, persuasive and critical response. Also clarity of expression – removing of verbosity ‘wankerism’ and using ‘clear prose’. Also got to the heart of not ‘vomiting up essays’ in exams – not copying the ideas of others (Bored of Studies, tutors, teachers etc) as this degraded their own intellectual powers and really made them one of Orwell’s enemies.
I read and annotated my own copies – you’ll find there is minimal information/analysis of these essays on the web or in books. Discuss Peter Marks and finding him at Syd Uni via Bernard Crick’s introduction. I have copies of my analysis – the focus is on what I saw as his key ideas and language features of his essays.
Orwell often uses languages features typical of a speech – rhetorical devices – this is essential to his style as an essayist, as he writes as though he is speaking directly to you, the reader. One could easily imagine Orwell speaking in precisely the same way he writes.Asyndeton – no conjunctions, just commas.Anaphora – repetition of key words or phrases.Logos: Logos is appeal based on logic or reason.Pathos: Pathos is appeal based on emotion.Ethos: Ethos is appeal based on the character of the speaker. An ethos-driven document relies on the reputation of the author.
We all know what the syllabus says, but what does it really mean? And is it different for a collection of texts, rather than an extended text? Yes, it is. I look at the integrity of the collection of essays, viewing it as a ‘text’, but I also look at the integrity within each essay. With an essay we’re looking closely at Orwell’s use of language to lead logically to his argument’s conclusion. In regards to the collection, I focus on the sustained ideas of Orwell – does he contradict himself, are his arguments satisfying, does he maintain his style and use it effectively to express his key ideas and help the reader understand what he has to say, will this style appeal to a wide audience over time? Ultimately students should be developing their ability to judge whether the essays stand up to close examination. Use Amanda example and HSC rant.
I have copies of these to be put on the ning.
Orwell has become less of a man and more of an ideal for many – he can be shaped and moulded by any critic or writer to suit their own beliefs/needs. He can be interpreted in so many different ways.
Lorryn – top student, creative writer, passionate about language. She told me to ‘be passionate and not lame’ She asked, ‘why are there only 5?’ reflecting her love of Orwell and her surprise that so few people are studying his essays. On the frames –once she had her own ideas didn’t use it much (don’t think she realised that she did it implicitly). Excited that she was allowed to be creative in an essay – never given that freedom before.
Descartes – ‘clear and distinct ideas’ link.
prophet, rebel, common man or saint?<br />George Orwell: Essays <br />
Why am I presenting here today?<br />Dr Peter Marks, Sydney University<br />Teacher stole Yeats<br />Positive student response<br />To share with others my passion for Orwell’s essays<br />To share with others my passion for Module B: Critical Study of Texts<br /> I Orwell<br />
This guy …<br />Eric Blair a.k.a. George Orwell<br />
… and Module B: Critical Study of Texts<br />How does it make you feel?<br />
English Advanced at a glance …<br />Belonging – focus on an idea<br />Module A – focus on context<br />Module B – focus on the text<br />Module C – focus on the intent <br />
The Frames<br />Your personal response to the essay <br />Contextual information: <br />responder’s and <br />composer’s<br />Subjective<br />Cultural<br />Structural<br />Critical<br />Your detailed analysis of the essay’s language, content and construction<br />How the essays have been received since their composition <br />SOURCE: Visual Arts Stage 6 Syllabus<br />
Using the frames for Module B:<br /> <br />Subjective: your initial ideas about the essay and its meaning <br /> (Stage 6 Syllabus: This module requires students to engage with and develop an informed personal understanding of their prescribed text.)<br />
Subjective Frame- ‘How to?’<br />Students read through the essays independently.<br />Teacher provides broad stimulus questions focusing on subject matter, key ideas, engagement and relevance to own world. <br />
Recording subjective response …<br />Students to record their responses in a journal.<br />This may be:<br />Hand-written in journal booklet<br />Added to a class edmodo group<br />Posted on a class blog<br />Recorded via video in OneNote<br />Added to a class Ning<br />
Discussing the subjective response …<br /> Formal and informal class discussions should focus on these initial subjective responses.<br />This may be:<br />Whole class discussion<br />Circle-time<br />Small group discussions<br />
Subjective frame and Orwell …<br />What did my students say after first reading Orwell’s essays?<br />I don’t understand what he’s talking about.<br />They’re so long. I find it boring and hard to concentrate.<br />What does this have to do with my world?<br />
Subjective frame and Orwell …<br />We did it ‘Old Skool’!!<br />Students kept a hand-written (yep, you read right!) journal to reflect on their initial subjective response to Orwell’s essays.<br />Hmmm…<br />
Subjective frame and Orwell …<br />Questions I had them answer …<br />What do you feel when you first read the essay?<br />What does the essay remind you of?<br />What is Orwell expressing in this essay?<br />From your initial reading of the essays, what do you think is Orwell’s perception of the world? <br />
Subjective frame and Orwell …<br />Questions I had them answer …<br />What aspects of his essays did you find difficult? Why?<br />What aspects of his essays did you find appealing?<br />How do you think your reading of the essays is altered by your own perception of the world? Give an example from one or more of the essays.<br />What similarities can you identify between the essays set for study? <br />
Using the frames for Module B:<br />Cultural: a consideration of the impact that context has on the poem’s meaning <br /> (Stage 6 Syllabus: Students explore how context influences their own and others’ responses to the text and how the text has been received and valued.)<br />
Cultural Frame- ‘How to?’<br />Create a ‘web quest’ – a wiki is great for this. Direct students to web based information and have questions/activities that they must complete.<br />Student-created wikis – each student is given responsibility for one aspect of Orwell’s context.<br />
Cultural Frame- ‘How to?’<br />Library research, filling in tables and<br /> class discussion <br />
Cultural Frame and Orwell…<br />We did it ‘Old Skool’!!<br />
We read a book that I got from … (hold onto your hearts!!)<br />
Cultural Frame and Orwell …<br />Contextual aspects to discuss:<br />Name change: Eric Blair George Orwell <br />Burma<br />Spanish Civil War<br />WWII – fascism, communism, socialism etc.<br />Popular culture and media of the day<br />
Using the frames for Module B:<br />Structural: a deconstruction of the poem’s distinctive features and how these work to create meaning <br /> (Stage 6 Syllabus: Through critical analysis and evaluation of its language, content and construction, students will develop an appreciation of the textual integrity of their prescribed text.)<br />
Structural frame and Orwell …<br />Studying essays? <br />Don’t we write essays?<br />
Structural frame and Orwell …<br />How did I do it? Old skool!<br />Read notes on what an essay is from a collection of essays from 1922. (Thanks Sydney Uni!)<br />A close analysis in class led by me. Students took notes.<br />
Structural frame and Orwell …<br />What is an essay?<br />Michel de Montaigne<br /><ul><li>Essais: (Old French) an attempt, a test or a trial</li></li></ul><li>Other essay features to discuss:<br />‘…conversational and improvisational style and with an open-minded skepticism, a distrust of intellectual systems an emphasis on experimentation and self-exploration.’ <br />‘the essay is a mood rather than a form’<br />‘an essay can never be more than an attempt, for it is an excursion into the endless’<br />
Orwell’s essays and rhetoric …<br />Orwell ‘speaks’ to his readers, and therefore he often uses rhetorical devices:<br />Asyndeton<br />Anaphora<br />Rhetorical questions<br />Logos, Ethos, Pathos<br />
Final note – HOMEWORK!<br />Questions based on Frames and Blooms Revised Taxonomy to help them prepare for Section I, Paper I.<br />
Using the frames for Module B:<br />Critical: considering the interpretations/perspectives of others on the meaning of the poem <br /> (Stage 6 Syllabus: They refine their own understanding and interpretations of the prescribed text and critically consider these in the light of the perspectives of others.)<br />
John Rodden, Orwell scholar, posits that Orwell has been variously celebrated as a rebel, common man, prophet, and saint. <br />The Politics of Literary Reputation: The Making and Claiming of ‘St. George’ Orwell. Rodden, J<br />
Great critical quotes …<br />‘Though a socialist, he wrote for the market, and he knew how to keep the customer satisfied.’ <br />‘"Orwell" is a fiction. Blair created him… He's an attitude, not a real human being, and we enjoy seeing the attitude apply itself to real subjects.’<br />‘His blunt sentences, graceful without obvious mannerism, deliver casual shocks to the reader's expectations.’<br />Joseph Sobran<br />
Using the frames for Module B:<br />Back to subjective: return to your original ideas and reflect on how these have been shaped by what you have learnt by exploring the cultural, structural and critical frames <br /> (Stage 6 Syllabus: This module requires students to engage with and develop an informed personal understanding of their prescribed text.)<br />
Reflections of a Band 6 student …<br />Via a text chat, she reflected on studying Orwell:<br />‘I discovered the beauty of essay-writing which allowed me to be both creative and critical in my own essays.’<br />‘I liked the frames for looking at how to break down the elective and evaluate the essays. But once I had my own ideas, I didn’t use it much.’<br />‘I enjoyed going through the essays together in class. It really showed the depth of his work.’<br />‘The original thought thing was powerful – teenagers like to think of themselves as unique!’<br />‘Why do so few teachers get their students to do Orwell?’<br />
Questions to Dr Marks …<br />Did Orwell have a deeper purpose than attempting to assist in the understanding of people's own ideals that they have not properly contemplated? <br />Yes, I think he thought that most people (including himself) fell tooeasily into lazy thinking, one signal of which was the unreflective use oflanguage. Worse than the individual failing, though, was that whole societies mightdescend into automatic thinking and/or they might be manipulated into thisby a sufficiently totalitarian state. You might think of political slogansas the epitome of this … A recent equivalent thatsounds eerily like this mindless chant is Obama's 'Yes We Can' riff soeagerly taken up by his supporters at rallies.In PATEL a major point is not simply that people in authority can writebadly, and that this signals their lack of real intellectual engagement, butthat individual citizens need to be alert to their own failings as thinkers,speakers and writers. Language matters.<br />
Questions to Dr Marks …<br /> Do you believe that Orwell was purposely antagonistic to provoke thought, while actually being disingenuous in some of the arguments he made? Did he really believe what he was saying?<br /> There are times when Orwell does goes out to antagonise in order to provoke those he thinks are likely to be his readers. For instance, in arguing for Socialism in The Road to Wigan Pier he writes that when most people think of socialists they think of nudists, sandal wearers, fruit juice drinker, feminists and other weird types. Given that some of these people are the very ones who would read the book, you can see that there's a clear intention to stir the pot. This doesn't mean that Orwell wasn't antagonistic to these types, but that he was capable of using hyperbole to unsettle some readers.<br />
What did I learn?<br />What makes a good essay.<br />Boys and girls love Orwell – usually for different reasons.<br />Orwell is part of a log philosophical tradition.<br />The difference between Orwell as essayist and Orwell as novelist<br />Teenagers connect powerfully to what Orwell says about original thought.<br />
Why will I teach Orwell again?<br />Students to write better and appreciate the are of essay writing<br />Students learn to avoid regurgitating other people’s ideas as their own<br />Easier for students to focus their textual analysis<br />Obscurity of text choice<br />The pleasure of spending time with Orwell and his antagonistic persona!<br />
MARKING GUIDELINES<br />Ability to respond to the question<br />Ability to write well<br />Understands requirements of module<br />
29, 000 students studied Module B.<br />Only 350 of them studied George Orwell’s Essays.<br />Why? <br />
People who have inspired me:<br />Prue Greene – Navigating the Visual <br />Applying the frames to a study of visual texts in the English classroom<br />Mark Howie - A Transformative Model of Programming 7-10 English, mETAphor, November 2003 <br />Applying the frames to programming<br />Darcy Moore - Whale Rider: A film and gender unit for Stage 5 English<br />Applying the frames to a program for the English classroom<br />