View from the staffroom

18th August 2006 at 01:00
Here is a selection of teachers' views on Trollope's suitability for KS3 pupils posted on the TES online staffroom forum this week


Everyone should have the chance to come into contact with great fiction, but how is that defined and by whom? It is symptomatic of the continuing trend in education and particularly English over the past few years. Things which would have been introduced in KS4 are now expected to be understood by students of 11 and younger. I didn't touch Trollope until A-level and found him boring and long-winded. I wonder how many people have been put off reading the "classics" as a result of having them forced on them at an age when the ideas and the sophistication of the prose were too advanced?


Pre-teens were highly unlikely to have read Trollope when he was first published, so why on earth should they be forced into "studying"

(murdering) his books now? The "classic" authors being cited as suitable for "studying" wrote for adults, who had the experience of life necessary to appreciate the authors' depiction of the follies and foibles of the adult world and the emotional state of the characters. If children have to "study" pre-20th-century literature why not start with "classic" children's authors and make it more meaningful by relating it to the history of the period?


I'm sure I'm not alone in having found that being taught how to analyse the structure, language and content of a novel enhanced my future enjoyment of literature immeasurably. I don't see the point of presenting Trollope even in its "lite-est" form to kids who struggle with basic English, have tiny attention spans and no background understanding of the social and historical context of the stories. But to omit him excludes all the kids who would have been perfectly capable of dealing with it.


I admit to being an English teacher and never having read Trollope. Sorry, Mr Johnson. I can get pupils excited by Shakespeare but have no intention of even trying with Trollope. I am interested in helping students to appreciate "the good, the beautiful, the true, as opposed to the respectable, the pretty, the adequate".


There are lots of authors on the list who I have taught to KS3 classes, but there are others that I simply wouldn't consider because I don't think them appropriate. My main concern is that having lists like this gives people "outside" another brick to clobber us round the head with.

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