Sunday, August 06, 2006

Teaching texts in Year 12 English

We are looking to choose some new texts to study in Year 12 next year. The teachers are all frantically reading the texts on the list to make suitable choices and we are having a film night at school to look at a couple of films together and discuss them. The films we will be looking at are Ray Lawrence's Lantana and Sarah Watt's Look Both Ways (both Australian films) and a few novels, including Isabel Allende's Of Love and Shadows, Larissa Behrendt's Home and Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner. As regular readers would know, I love The Kite Runner and I have just finished Home which I also think would be very worthwhile to study. It is a gripping story and very wide ranging. But unfortunately it is not all about me. We have to choose novels that the students find accessible and satisfying, that the teachers feel are compelling, thought-provoking, enjoyable and with literary merit but I think that somehow, in the way we always do, we will find such texts to study from the list that the VCAA puts out. If you are an English teacher, what novels, stories, film, plays, poetry do you teach with students in their final year of high school?


  1. Hi JO
    We studied Ammaniti's "I'm Not Scared" this year. The students, just about universally, loved it. It was accessible, compelling, thought provoking. Students read it without being forced to. It somehow got around the year 12s that it was a great read, just as it got around that Winton was not! (I found Winton brilliant, but, as you say, it's not about me and I doubt that we'll teach "Minimum of Two" again in 2007.) I'm interested in your comments on "Home". I've just ordered a copy to consider as an alternative Australian text.

  2. We're having discussions about texts for next year too. We've decided it's time to drop To Kill a Mockingbird from the year 10 list (which, as we all know, is a great tragedy for English teachers but as you said, it's not about us), but a suitable replacement has not been decided upon. I suggested the Kite Runner, even though it's technically a year 12 text, because I think it's so great and much more accessible than TKAMB. But, to answer your question, the year 12 texts are Australian: Paul Kelly's lyrics, Henry Lawson's short stories, and Inheritance (a play). Gattaca (not Australian, I know) is quickly reviewed as the 'fourth text'; the students already looked at it in year 11. I completely disagree with showing Gattaca again in year 12, because the kids naturally say "well, I'll write on Gattaca for the exam, which gives me the excuse not to pay attention to any of the other texts", and the year 12 teachers have had an uphill battle all year with the other texts. But I'm not a year 12 teacher, and even though I am a year 11 teacher I had no say in the choice of Blade Runner for year 11s as a replacement for Gattaca this year and I'm annoyed about that, but this is your blog Jo, not mine so I'll shut up now!