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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: February ::
Re: New British Test Reviled
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0254  Wednesday, 12 February 2003

[1]     From:   Mari Bonomi <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 11 Feb 2003 09:38:58 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.0242 New British Test Reviled

[2]     From:   L. Swilley <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 11 Feb 2003 09:33:01 -0600
        Subj:   Another nail in the British students' coffin

[3]     From:   Evelyn Gajowski <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 11 Feb 2003 07:54:18 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0242 New British Test Reviled

[4]     From:   Stuart Manger <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 11 Feb 2003 18:42:26 +0000
        Subj:   SHK 14.0242 New British Test Reviled

[5]     From:   Nancy Charlton <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 11 Feb 2003 11:13:03 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0242 New British Test Revile


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mari Bonomi <
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Date:           Tuesday, 11 Feb 2003 09:38:58 -0500
Subject: 14.0242 New British Test Reviled
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.0242 New British Test Reviled

A question to the British folks on this list:

Is the test for 24 year olds *specifically* a test on *Shakespeare* or
is it, more generally, a literacy/language arts test using Shakespeare
as the literature around which students are to demonstrate their
literary skills?

If the former, horrific!

If the latter, I would be happy to explain, *off list*, the rationale
for such a change from the perspective of an educator who spent over 3
decades in the language arts area of instruction and who still assesses
novice teachers.

Mari Bonomi

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           L. Swilley <
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Date:           Tuesday, 11 Feb 2003 09:33:01 -0600
Subject:        Another nail in the British students' coffins

>"Teachers urge boycott of test
>
>Protest against 'dumbing down' of Shakespeare exam
>Rebecca Smithers, education correspondent
>Saturday February 8, 2003
>The Guardian
>
>Teachers are threatening a national boycott of a new Shakespeare test
>for 14-year- olds, after it emerged that more than half the marks will
>be awarded without youngsters having to read any of the Bard's plays."

- and, last night, NPR reported a new British PR drive: students'
foreheads will be rented and tattooed with advertisements.  It is
believed this will succeed because the university students need the
money offered to pay for their $30,000 education.

Oh, well, since products of various kinds - autos, appliances, and more
recently emblazoned coats, trousers and shirts - are now indelibly
marked with the names of the makers, we may as well accept the
inevitable.  (What do you suppose I can get for my grandmother's right
cheek?)

L. Swilley

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Evelyn Gajowski <
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Date:           Tuesday, 11 Feb 2003 07:54:18 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 14.0242 New British Test Reviled
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0242 New British Test Reviled

Alan Sinfield's article, "Give an account of Shakespeare and Education,
showing why you think they are effective and what you have appreciated
about them. Support your comments with precise references," in
*Political Shakespeare: Essays in Cultural Materialism* (1985), might
serve as an antidote to these concerns.

Evelyn Gajowski
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stuart Manger <
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Date:           Tuesday, 11 Feb 2003 18:42:26 +0000
Subject: New British Test Reviled
Comment:        SHK 14.0242 New British Test Reviled

Today's 'The Guardian' reports that there is a major move to boycott the
new paper by teachers. How dare the mere teachers among us find civil
servants out of touch, anti-theatrical, anti-Shakespearean?

Readers of this e-mail not in UK are probably astonished that the home
of the Bard could be about to treat one of its revered icons like this
in schools, but...  read on!

For us teachers, it looks as if QCA have scored yet another spectacular,
mind-manacling own goal. It will no doubt be presented in a thudding
glossy magazine format as if it were either a mere development of
existing syllabuses (huh!), OR a 'brave new world' in which to liberate
students who find Shakespeare alien from the shackles of actually
reading the damn stuff and wrestling with it. Crumbs! And this is MY
government machine!

Why is it that every British civil servant hack thinks they are experts
on English literature, yet leaves the Physics syllabuses to real
physicists? I blame the impenetrable arrogance of the English Public
School system's civil servants on the one hand - because we have read
some Shakespeare twenty years ago at school, we are experts -. and the
unsmiling earnest utilitarian reductionist dumbing-down instinct of
ill-educated bureaucrats intent on what is 'examinable' or, worse, on
devising Shakespeare test papers that dare not disadvantage those who
find Shakespeare difficult, on the other. QCA wanting Shakespearian pot
noodles instead of red meat? Vegetarians please excuse, but you know
what I mean!

A delegation from QCA came recently to give an area presentation on some
new English syllabuses - a staggering event unlikely to be repeated
judging by the reception they got - and concluded by refusing to answer
questions. Presumably running scared on the grounds that real teachers
might have real objections and as to why what the 'suits' at QCA were
proposing were real own goals and way, way out of touch with what real
teachers wanted?

Or am I being too cautious?

Stuart Manger

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Nancy Charlton <
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Date:           Tuesday, 11 Feb 2003 11:13:03 -0800
Subject: 14.0242 New British Test Reviled
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0242 New British Test Reviled

Al Magary sent the link to the BBC report:

     http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/features/2735997.stm

Who is that handsome hunk of a Hamlet in the picture?

Nancy Charlton

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