My Year 11s are moving into the last phase of their course. Revision is a particular time where they are require to add the extra details necessary to hone their style, and their work. From here to the exam, only by repeatedly writing essays can they refine their style.
Broadly speaking, the path we have taken from KS3 to now is this.
A points come to my mind when I think of literature. Firstly, I think English, as a subject, is broad to the point of vagueness. In its inception as a subject about the 1900s, the separation of literature as an object of study from the classics (Greek and Roman) was deemed worthless. Despite this, professors of literature exist. They exist, and they make money, and they influence. Secondly, I think the study of English is as much an act of personality as it is an act of intellect. It requires a certain amount of cultural capital and human interest in which to detect inference and draw together threads of thinking.
My system of teaching is:
1) PEE in KS3. The generic structure of analysis, it requires students to make a point with/via a quotation, and analysing it for a number of sentences afterwards. Debate is given as to whether the third ‘E’ should be ‘explain’ or ‘explore.’ Explain suggests, too, that there are definitive lines of analysis beyond the factual. Explore requires students to at least identify alternative lines of thought.
2) Analysis. It is thought that by isolating fragments or phrases of a poem or novel for analysis, a greater understanding of the text is possible. Of course, through analysing several aspects of the text and drawing them together, a more cohesive understanding becomes possible. But analysis is generally the consideration of a single aspect of a text (such as a particular metaphor, or example of the rhyme scheme.) It is D-C grade.
3) Explore. Exploration is the next stage from analysis. It involves speculative analysis, seeking to find connections and alternative interpretations. It requires the language of modality and contrast. It is C-B grade.
4) Evaluate. As someone explores meaning in a text, they still have some cognitive capacity left over that enables them to reflect on what they have written. It requires students to make value judgements on the veracity of what they have written; they need to anticipate and mould the reader’s response their analysis. It is B-A grade.
Generally speaking, my formula for analysis is as follows:
Topic sentence. PEE. Then:
furthermore sentences (analysis)
contrast sentence (explore/however)
evaluative sentence (therefore)
Of course, as a formula it has certain principles. And those principles exist so the rules can be broken before, as Orwell says, anything barbaric should be written.
Cue 21 hours of marking.