Tuesday 21 August 2018

LC English Paper 2: 'Appropriately challenging' exam with no bad surprises

Mount Carmel Kings Inn students Sophia Soriano (17), Grace Curpen (18), Klaudia Nawrot (17), Jasmin Popescu (16) and Ar-Raiyan Adesanya (17) after English Paper 2. Photo: Damien Eagers
Mount Carmel Kings Inn students Sophia Soriano (17), Grace Curpen (18), Klaudia Nawrot (17), Jasmin Popescu (16) and Ar-Raiyan Adesanya (17) after English Paper 2. Photo: Damien Eagers
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

The Leaving Certificate English Paper 2 on poetry and prose is often a cause of student anxiety, but this time higher-level candidates were treated to a "good and fair" exam, according to teacher Kate Barry.

Ms Barry, an ASTI subject representative who teaches at Loreto Secondary School in Fermoy, Co Cork, said the paper was "appropriately challenging". She referenced the comparative study question about what constituted unacceptable behaviour in the cultural context of text they had studied. "That wouldn't have been predictable and they wouldn't have practised it, but it fits well with the concept of cultural context".

Ms Barry welcomed the focus in the poetry questions, but queried the use of same question, with different names, for each of the novels in the single text section, although "the questions themselves were fine".

Jim Lusby, of Dublin's Institute of Education, described it as a challenging, but hugely stimulating examination.

He said it was "a literature paper that acknowledges that Leaving Certificate students are mature thinkers, with considerable knowledge of life, as well as of the academic courses they have studied".

According to Mr Lusby, the questions in all sections encouraged candidates to reflect maturely on the issues explored in the texts they had studied.

These included "the 'human condition', as portrayed in Shakespeare's 'King Lear', 'the darker aspects' of Robert Frost's vision, the relevance to 'contemporary Ireland' in the poetry of Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, and the concept of socially unacceptable behaviour. "In taking this approach, the examiners firmly attest the relevance of literature in today's world, by insisting on the inextricable link between our experiences in life and the stories we tell about these experiences."

He said there were "no unpleasant surprises and no unfairness to detract from the paper's focus in asserting the importance of literature" and he had only one quibble.

He said that because there are almost 40 prescribed texts in comparative study - from which candidates select three - the more precise and detailed the questions are in this section, the more they run the risk of favouring some texts over others.

"Perhaps it is time, again, to rethink the approach to comparative literature," he said.

Both teachers were happy with the ordinary-level paper.

Irish Independent

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