Critical Theory and the English Teacher: Transforming the Subject

Critical Theory and the English Teacher: Transforming the Subject

Critical Theory and the English Teacher: Transforming the Subject

Critical Theory and the English Teacher: Transforming the Subject

Synopsis

Written in a style which even those with no background in critical theory will find approachable, this radical exploration shows how teachers can use critical theory to bring students' own experience back into the subject.

Excerpt

The imposition of a National Curriculum in English at secondary level has forced into the open opposing forces striving to gain power over the curriculum. Without going into any of the political, ideological or educational arguments which have erupted onto the English curriculum landscape through the push of these forces, it is necessary to stress that far from providing the definitive answer to the question ‘What is English?’, the National Curriculum has made the question even more insistent. The anger over the 1992 review of the English National Curriculum and the furore over the SATs debacle have only fuelled a debate which cannot in the least be said to be theoretical as it underpins (or undermines) the pedagogical ground on which every English teacher stands.

Harrassed English teachers might be forgiven in 1992 for crying, ‘a pox on both your houses’, in the face of ignorant interference from politicians on the one hand, and on the other the continuing demand for a reworking of English as a kind of cultural studies from the literary radicals within some university departments and parts of the National Association of Teachers of English. They can be forgiven, but nevertheless they must be urged not to give in to the temptation to curse both sides and turn away to seek some imagined peaceful place of straightforward teaching. For there is no such place. The most practical matters of our teaching strategy and pupils’ learning experiences depend upon our view of the nature of our subject, its content and its processes. This is why in this book Nick Peim addresses both theory and practice together.

This is not a book to be dismissed as of value only to those English teachers who are already sympathetic to the ascendency of literary theory in English study over the last fifteen years. Those whose view is that English at school level should have nothing to do with literary theory will find this a book as informed by practical thinking about

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