Why do you read? Why did you read the book you were reading before you turned the lights out last night? Why did you read that poem at your grandfather’s funeral? Why did you bother to read the instructions for the flat pack cabin bed you struggled to put up at the weekend?
The most beautiful, most ugly, most awe-inspiring, earth-shattering, heartbreaking, life-changing, even the most mind-numbingly functional texts we read impact on us because they make us think, feel and/or do something.
When we teach literature, we’re essentially teaching students factual knowledge and procedures which may change both the way they react to the text(s) or the ways in which they subsequently express these reactions.
I watched, with interest, as Fiona Ritson (someone who you should follow @fkritson if you’re an English teacher on Twitter because she’s so helpful and so generous with her resources) collated a list of approaches to analytical writing.
Here it is:
What was particularly interesting was that the focus of the overwhelming majority of responses to Fiona’s request related to procedures post reading – the analytical writing element. I want to explore this aspect of literary analysis as it is really important. It’s where students win the game on match day. However, I do think there’s a risk we can spend too much time playing out set pieces for the end game rather than focusing on whether our students are match fit. Without working on conditioning students’ knowledge, none of the PEEs, PEAs,PEALs, PETALs, PEEDs or PEEZLs will help. It’s as easy peasy as that.
Over the next few posts I want to explore:
- A range of barriers which are faced by students’ when they’re reading and therefore writing analytically about thoughts, feelings and actions triggered by the texts they’ve read.
- Some possible solutions to these barriers.
- The key features of analytical writing.
- The ways in which exam structures both aid and limit students in developing the procedural knowledge relating to analytical writing.