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GCSE poetry syllabuses A cultural glue? Peter Keeble.

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Presentation on theme: "GCSE poetry syllabuses A cultural glue? Peter Keeble."— Presentation transcript:

1 GCSE poetry syllabuses A cultural glue? Peter Keeble

2 Who decides QCA – Qualification and Curriculum Authority This sets the overall requirements for study of literature texts at GCSE Exam boards then flesh them out with specifics: AQA Edexcel OCR WJEC

3 Why is this important? QCA can specify that poetry must be studied for GCSE (14-16) by ALL students still in the compulsory school system Exam boards can specify good poetry to help preserve an interest in poetry in future generations They can ensure those at the borders of literacy have the opportunity to read and hear poetry

4 Now Students can take one of several English options either on their own or with a more specialist English Literature paper. English is compulsory Poetry within English is compulsory – three of the 4 boards have it in the exam, the fourth has it as course work Foundation and Higher levels of entry

5 The poems studied Boards publish anthologies with all the poems to be studied. Almost all are now available on the internet and you can often find some well informed comments on them. The BBC revision website Bitesize has a selection read by the poets. For example from Unrelated Incidents by Tom Leonard is here:here edact.shtml


7 There is an overt multi-cultural point of view in the AQA choice of poems. It seems to be designed to combat racism and to promote understanding between people of different backgrounds.

8 Exam questions

9 Culture and identity are common themes Compare the methods Denise Levertov uses to present a particular culture in “What Were They Like?” (page 11) with the methods another poet uses to present a culture or cultures in one other poem.

10 What were they like? Did the people of Viet Nam use lanterns of stone? Did they hold ceremonies to reverence the opening of buds? Were they inclined to quiet laughter? Did they use bone and ivory, jade and silver, for ornament? Had they an epic poem? Did they distinguish between speech and singing? Sir, their light hearts turned to stone. It is not remembered whether in gardens stone gardens illumined pleasant ways. Perhaps they gathered once to delight in blossom, but after their children were killed there were no more buds. Sir, laughter is bitter to the burned mouth. A dream ago, perhaps. Ornament is for joy. All the bones were charred. it is not remembered. Remember, most were peasants; their life was in rice and bamboo. When peaceful clouds were reflected in the paddies and the water buffalo stepped surely along terraces, maybe fathers told their sons old tales. When bombs smashed those mirrors there was time only to scream. There is an echo yet of their speech which was like a song. It was reported their singing resembled the flight of moths in moonlight. Who can say? It is silent now. Denise Levertov

11 from 'Unrelated Incidents' (3) this is thi six a clock news thi man said n thi reason a talk wia BBC accent iz coz yi widny wahnt mi ti talk aboot thi trooth wia voice lik wanna yoo scruff. if a toktaboot thi trooth lik wanna yoo scruff yi widny thingk it wuz troo. jist wanna yoo scruff tokn. thirza right way ti spell ana right way to tok it. this is me tokn yir right way a spellin. this is ma trooth. yooz doant no thi trooth yirsellz cawz yi canny talk right. this is the six a clock nyooz. belt up. Tom Leonard

12 What you might mention Seriousness / Humour Question & answer / Monologue Artefacts & way of life / Attitudes & accent Both use: Contrast (past/present; form/content) Poetic techniques Mirror metaphor in Levertov

13 What happens in 2010 QCA introduces new English specification for the boards to follow Query to AQA about poetry content: Customer (Peter Keeble) - 15/07/2009 Will pupils in both tiers be required to study and answer questions on poetry, as they now are? I have looked fairly carefully at the draft specification and I am not clear that this is so. This is a question about English (not English Language or English Literature). Response - 16/07/2009 There is no requirement to do poetry for the examination in English. Candidates have to cover some poetry for the controlled [coursework] assessment in unit 3, where you can choose your own poems.

14 Issues with QCA proposals for 2010 Boards will allow individual schools to decide what poems they may study. The boards will assess that it has been well taught and that pupils have learned about poetry as a result Pro – teachers will be free to choose what interests them and what they think will interest their pupils Anti – there will no longer be a likelihood that large numbers of young people will share knowledge of a common body of work – eg Presents from my aunts in Pakistan; Unrelated Incidents

15 Some issues brought up in discussion at Metroland, 31 July 2009 Other kinds of poetry are promoted earlier on in pupil’s school careers – often more associated with the traditional canon of British poetry Poetry writing is used much more in primary and earlier secondary schooling as a way into poetry – as is memorising poetry Under the new disposition from September 2010 enlightened teachers will be able to consult pupils about what sorts of poetry they would like to study

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