This month we are reflecting on the texts that we really loved teaching and the texts that have left us feeling uneasy. Here are my two choices:
Tess of the d’Urbervilles
Not an obvious choice and, ok, I confess we didn’t read the text from cover to cover but I taught this to a year 9 mixed ability set in my early days whilst teaching at Durrington High. I think I saw the adaptation for screen first and was drawn into the narrative. I felt for Tess and the fate that was bestowed upon her. As a class we read the chapter where Prince dies and considered whether this was the catalyst for the events that followed. We also completed a class courtroom drama where we put Tess on trial for the murder of Alec. 10 years later, the students with whom I explored this text still tell me about the love they have for Tess of the d’Urbervilles and that that period of learning was one of their favourite.
I don’t loathe this text per se, I just didn’t teach it very well. It was longer that I anticipated and with an A level group who didn’t read independently as much as they should. Most of the time was spent reading the text (which is an enjoyable thing) that I felt I failed them in studying the text. The fear that you may not finish a text or that they won’t ‘know’ the text as well as they should is enough to make me consider text length when choosing a class reader. I never want to feel as though I can’t give a text the time it deserves.