We are just under half way through GCSEs :-) They all seem to be OK, apart from the first two, where LD#1 had a heavy cold and went into the RE and then the French Listening exams coughing and having had very little sleep. Luckily, now that we live 2 minutes away from our doctor, it was no trouble to go down and get a note, which will be sent off to the exam board for the 1-2% extra that they might offer her, although for me it wasn’t so much the actual percentages, as making LD feel that she was in control and not disadvantaged in any way.
I’ve had the last couple of evenings off, because it was English Lit on Friday, and that’s the one thing I don’t feel qualified to teach. Also LD has a good English teacher, whom I trust to get her through the exam OK.
On Thursday, I watched a DVD of Persepolis, which is an animated film based on a child/teenager’s experiences of living through the Iranian revolution. It’s a film that I’ve been wanting to watch for a while because I think I should watch it, which isn’t to say that it wasn’t enjoyable, but its contents were always going to be a bit uncomfortable. LD#2 saw me watching it and I think was attracted by the voice of the little girl and she is going to have the DVD next, although I will tell her to stop watching if she finds it too disturbing. Some parts of it are heartbreaking. It’s a very realistic and spirited portrait of a teenager’s reaction to war and conflict – focussing very much on the longing for a normal life.
After Persepolis, I finished reading What Maisie Knew by Henry James. I’d been interested in reading this since watching the modern day set film a few weeks ago, and thinking that surely James’ original book hadn’t been as saccharine as all that?? I was right – it wasn’t. The adults were far more awful in the book than they’d dared make them on screen. It was extraordinary the way James managed to capture the thought processes of a small child, and the way they developed as she grew older, but without resorting to childish language or imagery. It was especially interesting the way he studied the damage that can be done to children through psychological cruelty and neglect, and the way children try to protect themselves from hurt. He took for granted many of the values we count as “modern” developments in the fields of psychology.
I have to admit that I did get quite bored and skipped a lot of the later middle of the book, as it just seemed to be more of the same: self interested adults and progressive realisation of the child.
Not so The Amber Fury, by Natalie Haynes, which I read last night. This is a book I heard about here, so thank you to anyone who has blogged a review of it. It’s an absolutely brilliant book, because on one level, it’s a realistic portrait of a young woman who delivers drama therapy to damaged teenagers in a Pupil Referral Unit, and on another, it ponders deep philosophical questions by using the pupils’ discussion of Greek tragedies, and the parallels with all their lives. It works pretty well on both levels! I can vouch as someone who has worked with teenagers that the book does a great job of picking up the realities of their casual nihilism, as well as turning a brutally honest spotlight on the emotional effects on the teacher – the constant insecurities of whether one is any good at the job or not.
Natalie Haynes really seems to care about getting across what it’s like to be authentically inside the worlds she portrays – whether it’s the world of the deaf, the world of the PRU, the world of theatre. And the ending is, like the rest of the book, beautifully thought out and perfectly apt. I would thoroughly recommend this book!