As promised in my previous post, below are some brief comments from two of Cheney’s English teachers: Pat Tope, Leader of Key Stage 5, and Gary Snapper, a department teacher with a research interest in the transition from A-Level to university.
The quotes below have been transcribed from an audio recording of a schools engagement visit. For the students’ perspective, see my previous post.
‘It was useful to give us a forum for people to discuss literature. Some of the students have definitely got into considering writers that they wouldn’t have considered before. For example, two girls were interested in Aphra Behn and they’d never heard of her before. They were interested in the fact that she was such an early female author. I think the website prompts that sort of thing; students can investigate aspects of literature that they wouldn’t have thought of before. I think that the problem with the site is that it is very random in terms of the people that you’ve got there – it’s difficult to direct students there and say, well, “whatever you want you’ll find it here”. It’s a little bit hit and miss as to whether you’d find it or not. So that would be the issue. But no, I liked the way that both of you interacted with the students; it was really good and really appropriate. It was great.’
‘I think the session was great. I really think that having people come in from outside, from a university, is a very very positive thing because it, simply by your presence and by seeing people who have gone to the next stage and the stage after that, brings literature alive. It brings literature alive in a way we can’t do because we’re fixtures. I think that connection is always very important and I always look forward to that. It just makes them think a little bit differently and a bit more widely. But, beyond that, the site itself was very useful in doing that. I particularly like the lectures on the site; I think they’re very very useful. We’ve found that the recent proliferation of good lectures on the internet is great – although there aren’t many about. It is good to have another source of them. In fact, I have used the Oxford University site that has lectures on it already. As a way of finding out what’s there – although, as Pat says, it’s still a bit random – it’s really useful. It will be useful for specific texts both for us and for them. For instance, when we come to do As You Like It, and do a bit more of the Gothic and the Pastoral, I think it will come into its own. But obviously it would be great if it were more consciously geared to what A-Level students are actually doing. And in terms of the timing, although it was good in that it coincided with students thinking about their comparative coursework, it would have also been good timing at a stage later in the middle of year 13 or a few weeks into year 13 when they were beginning to get into the texts themselves and exploring ideas in more depth. I think that the session was really useful and just about the right length, well-timed – although, perhaps a little less time on browsing the website might have been better. Again, if it had been later in the course and they had been looking at specific texts they could have spent a bit more time – things are still a bit general at the moment.’
You can view some of Gary Snapper’s research articles here.