Literally Speaking: Where do we teach?

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Where do we teach?
How does the place in which we teach literary works influence what we teach?

Join me, Matilda Gabrielpillai and Erin Woodford on this panel, as we share our experience of both institutional and non-institutional environments for teaching literature, and debate the possibilities and limitations that such contexts provide.

The session will be moderated by Philip Holden.

Date: Thu, 24 Nov 2016
Time: 7.30pm to 9pm
Venue: The Select Centre (Blk 231 Bain Street, #04-01 Bras Basah Complex, Singapore 180231)
Price: Pay as you wish at the door (suggested contribution $10)

*It’s shoes off at the space, so please dress comfortably!

Register at this link.
Join the Facebook event here.

Adventures in teaching Boom by Jean Tay (Part II)

Yikes! Very overdue but I’m going to post this regardless because I’ve been meaning to put it up.

How does Tay create an atmosphere of melancholy in this passage? Explain your answer with close reference to the passage.

So when we last left off, I was busy making the horses thirsty.

One of the ways in which I did so was to allow them to devise their own exam questions – in a structured manner, of course.

Without going into detail, I crafted the lesson with the objectives of making the students:

  1. Revise the question requirements for the O-Level exams; and
  2. Think about the issues in the particular passage, and thereafter the text.

While carrying out the lesson activity, this happened:

Student A: (reading out what he had written) “How does Tay create an atmosphere of me-lan-cho-lee –”

Student B: (from the other end of the classroom) “Eh, what melancholee – you think what, this one Indian food ah?”

Student C: “Ya lah, later you go to Lew Lian there the Indian stall you tell them, ‘Uncle, I want two kosong and the curry you gimme melancholee one’ and then you see what happen after that.”

Temporarily could not take it because was laughing so hard, so had to tell the students to give me a moment to finish laughing before we carried on with the lesson.

Adventures in teaching Boom by Jean Tay (Part I)

Why does Tay title her play BOOM? Support your answer with close reference to the text.
Why does Tay title her play Boom? Support your answer with close reference to the text.

So as part of making the “horses” thirsty, I had to teach Boom by Jean Tay for Literature lessons.

It’s a pretty good text in that it’s accessible to the students and rich with literary features that make it good for teaching.

For example, one of the essay questions we worked on in class was “Why does Tay title her play Boom? Support your answer with close reference to the text”.

I doubt this question would ever come out at the O-Level exams, but I thought it was a pretty good way of getting the students to think about motifs, symbolism and themes – and their relationships – in the text.

Regardless, the students – being students – have no qualms about asking teachers questions/interrupting the lesson in the hope that we’ll digress/tell them stories instead.

So while I was writing the question and instructions on the board, this exchange took place:

“Sir.”
“What.”
“Jean Tay your friend ah, sir.”
“No.”
“You’re also a writer, right, sir.”
“So? All writers must be friends is it?”

And midway during the discussion…

“Sir.”
“Whattt…”
“You got watch the play or not?”
“NO. (Beat.) Why?”
“You look like one of the actors lah.”
(Pause.)
“Brendon Fernandez, is it?”
“No lah, the actor in the play.”
“Yar, he was one of the actors in the play, right? That’s his name!”
“Y’all are friends ah, sir?”

Guess it was payback for all the times I annoyed my teachers in class…