Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Words fail me .....

Having just sat for 15 minutes trying to load beta blogger to publish an entry, I find myself so startled by the sudden appearance of the page that I've almost forgotten what I was going to post about. I had, in fact, begun to mail a reply to BT that the problem is theirs - but I'll do this first now that I'm here.

After teaching two hours intensively today on Higher Engish, and then spent 30 minutes on QuickTopic Document Review doing formative assessment on a Higher essay, I feel suddenly very ... teacherly again. I am exercised by the problems pupils carry into the Higher English course - in particular, today, the problem of a limited vocabulary. It is, I imagine, unthinkable that someone would sit Higher French without making an effort to learn new words, and words of a certain degree of sophistication so that they could get past the "je m'appelle.." mode, and yet they expect to cope with the subtleties of English literature without knowing, say, what "dreary" means. That example comes from today, but I could come up with many others - and that's before I move on to the technical language required to discuss literary technique with any degree of clarity.

Ah well. There is much to be done. I've suggested the daily read of Guardian Unlimited as a start to acquiring the necessary vocabulary - as well as the skills of the essayist. In the meantime, I find Quick Topic Document Review an excellent tool for online tuition at the moment, and am grateful to Dave Weinberger for pointing me towards it.

And now to see if I can establish sufficient connection to publish this ......


  1. Anonymous1:02 AM

    I can tell what you're going through! I've spent a lot of time trying to encourage/threaten/cajole/bribe my Higher class into the arcane art of reading... Fortunately, there are more and more of them realising that they can't really leave this bit to the night before the NAB/exam...

    Fortunately, I've managed to make them realise that the Daily Mail is not a quality paper... in fact, I got a complaint at the recent parents' night because one of the parents had been getting complaints from the darling daughter about the DM! Small steps...

  2. Guess what I spent 2 hours doing today? You'll appreciate this...

    A friend from Uni, who is studying Scottish Literature showed me her essay question for her first assignment next week. The question went as follows:

    "What is the function of the 'standing stones' in Gibbon's 'Sunset Song'"

    I just about had a stroke! So I, because I am exceptionally generous, sat with her for two hours and explained the entire book - quotes included. I was amazed at what I could remember! Later on in the evening, I was chatting to another friend who was equally stressed out about her chosen question:

    "Discuss and analyse how Gibbon uses the chapter titles as a plot and thematic device"

    Somehow I wish I was doing Scottish Litt. The funny thing is... I helped people from the year above last year. I will just have to say "haven't read it" next year.

  3. My wife the English teacher has found the same problem with her Advanced Higher class. Apparently they think they can get an AH without actually reading anything. The problem is that they are "too busy to read"! :-)