The English Department and Remote Learning

Posted: 2nd July 2020

Expanding horizons.  

Mr Elder, English Department, writes on the opportunities that lockdown and remote learning have presented to both teachers and pupils:  

‘Remote learning has  brought all kinds of challenges, but one way or another, lessons have retained their high standards and students have been learning just as well as they always do.

Examination classes came to an abrupt halt across the country in March. However, in line with other Departments in the school, we kept going, lessons slowly morphing into a programme of bridging work for the next stage of the students’ education. The students in Upper V were given lessons that pushed beyond the confines of GCSE courses, exploring literary theory, ideas around what the reader brings to a text, and aspects of Literary Heritage.

This photograph and featured image: Bonjour Photography

The Upper VI also continued with lessons, at their request! Again, they had the chance to stray from the usual paths so that a glimpse of what English at undergraduate level was given by Mrs King. She began with a question we don’t often ask, “What is Literature?” She then invited students to explore notions concerning the literary canon (a very current debate), and gave an introduction to Modernism with the students reading T.S Eliot and Virginia Woolf.

Students throughout the Senior school have been engaged by all kinds of texts and tasks. Lower IVA managed to produce fantastic projects relating to their study of Chaucer. Students were set the task of launching a travel company specialising in modern-day trips to Canterbury, going in the footsteps of Chaucer’s pilgrims. The presentations consisted of videos and PowerPoints, designed to persuade customers that their company offered the best trip. Companies ranged in style – some offering travel by donkey and some by luxury coach! The culmination of our reading of ‘The Road To Canterbury’ (a prose adaptation of the original ‘Canterbury Tales’) saw Mr Elder and various students dressing as pilgrims to celebrate the end of their literary journey. There were a number of Cooks and a few Prioresses, we had a Miller and a Forester and even a Pardoner, complete with chicken bones.

On this day in 1397: The first reading of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales

Upper IV have been engaged in discussing the matter of diversity within the school curriculum. Letters have been written to MPs and speeches have been written in class on the topic. Besides encouraging students to address current affairs and matters concerning the wider community, these activities are excellent preparation for the GCSE English Language course that they have now begun.’

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