Archive | June, 2015

Related text: ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’

30 Jun

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty works well as related text for both AOS Discovery and for ‘Exploring Transitions’ in Standard English.

AOS Discovery

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty charts the journey undertaken by the eponymous protagonist as he discovers himself and his world.  At the start of the film, Walter lives a mundane and uneventful existence, retreating into imaginative worlds in order to express his aspirations for the future.  As the film progresses, he begins to really live, discovering qualities and desires about himself that had previously been suppressed.  By the film’s end, Walter is far less reliant on his imagination, and is thriving in the real world, suggesting that his journey of discovery has been liberating.

For other AOS Discovery related texts, click here.

Exploring Transitions 

As flagged in the discussion of this text as a Discovery related text, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a film about Walter’s transformation from an introvert to someone who lives life with enthusiasm.   Much like Rita in Educating Rita, Walter’s transformation is upwards and is intended to better his life.  Unlike Rita, however, Walter’s transformation is not planned.  Instead, it occurs in response to circumstances and gains momentum.

For other ‘Exploring Transitions’ related texts, click here.

Demonstrating understanding of genre

29 Jun

Sometimes students find it confronting to construct a piece of creative writing from scratch.  This is particularly the case when students are being asked to write in a way that conforms to the requirements of a genre with which they are not familiar.  One way around this is to start small, asking students to appropriate a small section of a familiar text, infusing into it elements of the genre studied.  Students could then write a reflection, explaining how effective the modified text is as an example of the genre studied.

‘Set No Path’

10 Jun

Set No Path‘ is a short film about a group of friends who are spending one final night together before they disperse, go to college and embark on new adventures.

The film functions as a great related text for  AOS Belonging (which many schools have adopted as the Year 11 AOS) as it foregrounds the complexities of personal relationships.  Flashbacks and diptych-style shots highlight the dynamics of friendship and the numerous ways belonging is demonstrated.  The film also explores the consequences when one group member is unable to cope with changes in relationships and circumstances.

Speaking of changes, this film also works as a related text for AOS Change (another popular Year 11 option).  Of particular interest if using the film for this purpose is the tension and conflict that result when not all members of a group have the same views about an impending change.

Students studying the Year 12 course are also able to utilise this text.  As a related text in AOS Discovery, this text can be used to highlight the impact of discoveries on individuals and the way that relationships shape responses to discoveries.

As flagged by the inclusion of this film in my ‘Exploring Transitions’ related text list, this film also has particular relevance to Module C of the Standard English course.  The film begins on the eve of group members’ transitions into new worlds and canvasses the emotions associated with this impending change in environment and circumstances.  It also presents the perspective of someone who resists changes, not just for himself but for the whole group.  Ultimately, this person’s actions impede the intended and anticipated transformations of others in the group, instead condemning them to repeating their parents’ lives rather than living their own.

Exploring Transitions related texts

8 Jun

The Exploring Transitions elective in Module C of the Standard English course requires students to find a related text.  The list below represents my suggestions.  I will update it as I find new potential texts.

  1. Set No Path (short film)
  2. Marisa (short film)
  3. Fourwalls: London‘ (short film)
  4. Freedom Writers  (film)
  5. ‘Two Words’ by Isabel Allende (short story)
  6. ‘And of Clay We Are Created’ by Isabel Allende (short story)
  7. Making it in America‘ (short film)
  8. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (film)
  9. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (film)
  10. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (novel)
  11. A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah (memoir)
  12. Persepolis (film or graphic novel)
  13. A Streetcar Named Desire (play)
  14. Over a Thousand Hills I Walk With You by Hanna Jansen (biography)
  15. Maestro by Peter Goldsworthy (novel)
  16. Room (novel)
  17. Briar Rose (novel)
  18. Hairspray (film)
  19. Girl Rising (film)
  20. The Devil and Miss Prym by Paulo Coelho (novel)
  21. The Kite Runner (novel, film or graphic novel)
  22. My Fair Lady (musical)
  23. ‘The Moment Before the Gun Went Off’ by Nadine Gordimer (short story)
  24. The Arrival by Shaun Tan (picture book)
  25. Eric by Shaun Tan (picture book)
  26. The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers (picture book)
  27. Martin’s Big Words (picture book)
  28. To This Day‘ by Shane Koyczan (poem or graphic novel)
  29. El Deafo by Cece Bell (graphic novel)
  30. Nutshell by Ian McEwan (novel)
  31. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba (novel/memoir)
  32. The Door (short film)
  33. The Book of Mormon (musical)
  34. Grave of the Fireflies (film)
  35. Scattered Lives (play)
  36. Hunt for the Wilderpeople (film)


‘Fourwalls: London’

7 Jun

My Year 12 Standard English class has just started their ‘Exploring Transitions’ unit.  As part of this unit, students are required to find a related text which, alongside their set text, can help them to illuminate ideas about transitions.

Their set text, Educating Rita, is a play that explores a woman’s journey from what she perceives as a negative or limiting working class world to a world of knowledge and sophistication.  Rita, the eponymous protagonist, sees this transition as positive.  Her Open University teacher, Frank, recognises that in making this transition Rita is losing a bit of herself.

The two sides to this narrative of transition also play out in the numerous articles about the housing crisis in London.  There, development is pushing lower-income earners out of London, and also causing some areas to lose diversity and vibrancy.  This loss of vibrancy and character is what Frank laments in Rita.  However, others see development and gentrification as ways of bettering neighbourhoods, much like Rita sees her foray into the world of education as necessarily leading to a better version of herself.

‘Fourwalls: London’‘ (by Lewish Knaggs) is a short film that has been created to illuminate the complexities and impacts of gentrification.  It would be an interesting complement to Educating Rita as it seems to present a stronger version of Frank’s sentiment namely, that transitions and transformations are not always completely positive.  Indeed, Frank would have liked for Rita to retain some authenticity, some roughness, some uniqueness, in much the same way that many would like to see transformations of London housing remain sensitive and inclusive to history and diversity.

Poetry and politics in the classroom

1 Jun

With Ireland having recently legalised same-sex marriage, Australia is now officially taking steps to put this issue on the political agenda.  It is thus particularly timely to be exploring representations of same-sex relationships as part of a unit examining poetic representations of gender.

I am a fan of using music in the classroom (see, for example, here) and am keen to explore Macklemore’s ‘Same Love‘  (lyrics) as part of a Year 10 poetry unit. I also think it is a good way of expanding the discussion of gender within the classroom.  The only thing that is really holding me back from including it in the unit is that the links to other proposed poems are not very clear.  In this sense, many of my students will be unable to make concrete connections between this song and other texts studied and will, as a result, not give the song due consideration.  Is it right to include the text but not make appropriate provisions to ensure that students value it as much as the other prescribed texts?