Section C in Scholarship

This was a weak section in the prelims and I have added some comments from the 2009 Scholarship Assessment Report below.

Candidates need to have had the opportunity to spend more time discussing how to interpret questions in this section (thinking critically) and to be encouraged to consider the range of reading and thinking around classroom texts. Often candidates make very good arguments with completely unrelated texts, but generally not if they do more than working at a plot level. Texts need, therefore, to be “significant” to humanity in general in terms of style/characterisation/ideas/universality. Candidates should use three or four texts to prove their case. Too many merely give a “rapid romp” through a number of texts without coherently proving a case in response to the question.

Essays too often deal with “what” rather than “how/why”. Candidates should respond to the actual words in questions.

Texts which candidates used exceptionally well in section C included the following:

– Black Swan Green by David Mitchell

– The Road by Cormack McCarthy

– We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

– Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

– On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

– Into the Wild directed by Sean Penn

– V for Vendetta directed by James McTeigue

– On the Road by Jack Kerouac

– The Secret History by Donna Tartt

– Pierrepoint (The Last Hangman) directed by Adrian Shergold.

Often these texts worked best when candidates used them to counterpoint other more traditional texts (the taught material), and in the process created new (and unorthodox) understandings which they often expressed in highly fluent, creative language showing excitement, responsiveness, passion and sheer joy! These were a pleasure for markers to engage with and reward. Candidates should know their audience – markers are English teachers and like to be inspired to re-think and re-read on the basis of fresh new arguments and thinking.

I have read/viewed all of the texts above and would recommend them all.

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