Lost 23 minutes

23rd November 2007 at 00:00
I cannot have been the only person whose heart sank on reading "A popular Year 8 English plan" (TES, November 9). This was the introductory lesson for a unit of work on Michael Morpurgo's Private Peaceful. Five minutes of silent reading, three minutes for students to copy the date, title and learning objective, two minutes' explanation that this was the focus of a new unit of study, and 30 seconds to discuss the title. All this followed by 10 minutes to stick a copy of the cover in their books and write a few sentences about what the story might hold. Twenty-three minutes later we arrive at a genuinely interesting set of activities: sequencing key events in the first chapter, comparing them with Morpurgo's text and discussing authorial intention. But how many pupils will have lost interest by this stage? Where is the passion that demands pupil engagement?

Private Peaceful is a superb book. Yes, it can be used to develop pupils' inferential, interpretative and evaluative reading skills, all of which will enhance their enjoyment of text. But an overly structured, jobsworth approach will continue to promote a message that books are for dissection, not pleasure.

Liz Broad, Deputy director, PGCE Primary Programmes, Kingston University School of Education, Surrey.

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