Friday, 1 July 2016

A slight change of direction

I've recently been thinking a lot about the need for A level English teachers to have access to critical material on the texts they are teaching. The problem is, much of that critical material is behind the paywalls of academic journals.

This kind of material is helpful in all kinds of ways. It can be useful for getting to grips with a new text. It can be really useful on several specifications for fulfilling AO5: Explore literary texts informed by different interpretations. For those students who are applying to study English at Oxbridge, it is very necessary for that critical material to be from high quality academic sources. While quoting from Sparknotes in your coursework essay technically fulfills AO5, it puts students at a serious disadvantage when their writing samples are being assessed in order to decide if they should be invited to interview.

So what am I going to do about it? One thing I've already done. Every time I find an open access journal article of use to English teachers I'm tweeting it (@veldaelliott) with the hashtag #LitCritforTeachers. The second thing I'm going to do is resurrect this blog which I originally started back in 2006 for my A level language students and use it to write about critical material on useful texts. I imagine the formats will vary, but one of the things I will be doing is summarising articles and incorporating quotations from them, so that you can use some of the original words with your students, and discuss the overall interpretation. All blog posts will have the full reference to the original material so you can chase it up if you want to try, or so your students can quote and cite it appropriately.

First post: Dorothy L Sayers on Aristotle on Crime for the Elements of Crime Writing on AQA B. Coming shortly :)

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