Monday 19 March 2018

Leaving Certificate English poetry was 'kindest, most user-friendly selection in decades'

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

A near-perfect examination paper and must have been enjoyable, as well as reassuring, for all candidates, was how teacher Jim Lusby described English Higher Level Paper 2..

Mr Lusby, of Dublin’s Institute of Education described the questions on Shakespeare’s Othello, on the consequences of the implied weakness of the female characters, Desdemona and Emilia, and the implied simplicities of a macho military society as thought-provoking and adept at matching the relevance of the 17th century drama to the issues of our own time.

Questions in the comparative study section were sensitively phrased to stimulate specific comparisons between texts, he said.  

“The result was a section that was, in itself, genuinely comparative, and a major improvement on recent years”.

And it got better:  “The four most popular, most expected and most desired poets – John Montague, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Robert Frost and Thomas Hardy – appeared on the paper, making this the kindest, most user-friendly selection in decades”.

“In all cases, the critical quotations offered for discussion covered ground that was familiar enough to be reassuring and subtle enough to be challenging.  One can’t ask any more of exam questions” he said..

Ordinary level candidates also had a good afternoon of it. 

It was “a very successful paper whose main virtue was clarity”, said Mr Lusby.

He said the single text questions on the eight available texts, from which candidates select one, all followed the same template, giving the section a pleasing consistency and evenness.

“The questions themselves, on the characters and characteristics of the various texts, were extremely well set, clear and helpful,” he said.

Similarly, the questions set on comparative study and poetry had great clarity and were helpfully phrased, guiding the candidates in how they should respond and leaving nothing obscure and nothing to guesswork, he said.

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