This is the richest of our repertoire in the sense that it is about anything and everything: from life to literature, from language to morality, from death to education, from mistaken assumptions to common practice. By grouping together such a wide spectrum of sources we attempt to develop our students into resourceful readers, analytical thinkers, and critical commentators. Putting on the table those widely accepted practices or thoughts for scrutiny, we are to put the two (or more) sides of an issue for a top-to-toe anatomy. By bringing in their individual responses, each student will make contribution to the discussion by drawing on their experiences from life, thereby integrating literary knowledge with cognitive reality.
In her literary piece describing how her mother’s spoken English has affected her life, Amy Tan, the renowned author of Joy Luck Club, has an interesting article called ‘Mother Tongue.’ And if anyone doubts the value of literary studies or, for that matter, liberal arts studies, for the future of his/her work-life, the work of Sikes and Murray, both professors of English, is a lighthouse. The mine here is so rich for anyone who cares to explore into the minds of these great authors.
Reading List William A. Henry, III, ‘In Defense of Elitism’, from In Defense of Elitism (Doubleday, 1994).
Norman Cousins, ‘How to Make People Smaller than They Are’, from Saturday Review (1978).
Amy Tan, ‘Mother Tongue’, from The Millennium Reader (Prentice Hall, 1997).
Sikes and Murray, ‘The Practicality of the Liberal Arts Major’, from Innovation Abstracts, IX, No. 8 (March, 1986).
Virginia Woolf, ‘The Death of the Moth’, from The Death of the Moth and Other Essays (Harcourt, 1970).
James Baldwin, ‘Autobiographical Notes’, from Notes of a Native Son (Beacon Press, 1983).
George Orwell, ‘Why I Write’, from Such, Such Were the Joys (Harcourt, 1981).
George Orwell, ‘Shooting an Elephant’, from Shooting an Elephant and Other Essays (Harcourt, 1978).
Virginia Woolf, ‘The Moment: Summer’s Night’, from The Moment and Other Essays (Harcourt, 1976)
Cynthia Ozick, ‘Washington Square, 1946’, from Metaphor and Memory (Alfred A. Knopf, 1989).
Cynthia Ozick.,‘The Shock of Teapots’, from Metaphor and Memory (Alfred A. Knopf, 1989).
Issac Asimov, ‘Why Read Science Fiction?’ from TOMORROW (Scholastic Inc., 1987).
James Baldwin, ‘If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?’ from Notes ofa Native Son (Beacon Press, 1983).
Max Beerbohm, ‘A Relic’, from And Even Now (W. Heinemann, 1921).
James Kelman, ‘Sunday Papers’, from Greyhound for Breakfast (M. Secker, 1987).
Alan Sellitoe, ‘The Disgrace of J. Scarfedale’, from The Loneliness of the Long-distance Runner (W. H. Allen, 1959).
Joyce Cary, ‘Growing Up’, from Spring Songs and Other Stories (M. Joseph, 1974).
Doris Lessing, ‘Through the Tunnel’, from The Habit of Loving (MacGibbon & Kee Ltd., 1958).
Dylan Thomas, ‘The Followers’, from A Prospect of the Sea (J. M. Dent & Sons, 1957).
Lesley Rowlands, ‘A Really Splendid Evening’, from Best Australian Short Stories (Rigby, 1975).
Alice Munro, ‘What Is Real?’ from Making It New: Contemporary Canadian Stories (Methuen, 1982).
John Steinbeck, ‘Travels with Charley’, from Travels With Charley in Search of America (Viking, 1962).
Katherine Mansfield, ‘Miss Brill’, from The Garden Party (Modern Library, 1931).
Susan Hill, ‘The Badness Within Him’, from A Bit of Singing and Dancing (Penguin, 1975).
Susan Hill, ‘How Soon Can I Leave?’ from A Bit of Singing and Dancing (Penguin, 1975).
James Thurber, ‘Doc Marlowe’, from Let Your Mind Alone (Harper & Row, 1965).
E. B. White, ‘Walden’, from Harper's (1939).
Stan Barstow, ‘One of the Virtues’, from The Desperadoes and other stories (M. Joseph, 1961).
William Saroyan, ‘The Parsley Garden’, from Modern Stories in English (A. Wheaton, 1987).
Richard Wright, ‘the kitten’, from Black Boy (Harper & Row, 1945).
Robert Graves, ‘The Palace of Olympus’, from Myths of Ancient Greece (Doubleday, 1960).
William Faulkner, ‘Nobel Prize Award Speech’, from The Millennium Reader (Prentice Hall, 1997).
Edgar Allan Poe, ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’, from The Complete Short Stories of E.A. Poe (Sun Dial, 1943).
Roald Dahl, ‘The Umbrella Man’, from More Roald Dahl tales of the unexpected (Joseph, 1980).
W. Somerset Maugham, ‘The Verger’, from Complete Short Stories (Heinemann, 1951).
Graham Greene, ‘A Shocking Accident’, from May We Borrow Your Husband? (Viking, 1967).
Roald Dahl, ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’, from The Best of Roald Dahl (Vintage, 1983).
Muriel Spark, ‘You Should Have Seen the Mess’, from The Go-Away Bird and Other Stories (Macmillan, 1958).
Gordon Parks, ‘Music Inside My Head’, from A Choice of Weapons (Harper & Row, 1966).
James Joyce, ‘Araby’, from The Dubliners (Jonathan Cape, 1967).
James Joyce, ‘Clay’, from The Dubliners (Jonathan Cape, 1967).
E. B. White, ‘The Geese’, from The New Yorker (1940).
Joy Duffy, ‘The Price of a Chop’, from A Twist in the Tale (A. Wesley Longman, 1996).
Christopher Kavanagh, ‘The Accomplice’, from A Twist in the Tale (A. Wesley Longman, 1996).
Oodgeroo Noonuccal, ‘We Look After Our Own’, from A Twist In the Tale (A. Wesley Longman, 1996).
Roald Dahl, ‘The Hitch-Hiker’, from Exploring Short Stories (Federal Pub'ns, 1989).
Guy de Maupassant, ‘The Necklace’, from Exploring Short Stories (Federal Pub'ns, 1989).
The Fall: facing the dark side
Despite recent economic turmoil, now is still an age of relative comfort and affluence. Much as we want to protect our young generation from sorrow and misery in the past, history is doomed to repeat itself, with its tragedy and comedy taking the centre stage in turn. The virtue and vice of humanity are like the twilight zone before daybreak: they are inseparable.
This repertoire comprises of documentation of history as well as analyses of particular human qualities. It is crucial to learn our lessons from history; to do so requires an understanding of the chemistry between human characteristics and social structures of the time. No less crucial is it for us to look into the dark ages where the evils and misdeeds of human nature are explored to the full. Only by doing so can we derive a truly comprehensive knowledge of the human race.
Facing ourselves squarely and honestly may be one of the most difficult things to do. Without that courage, however, we shall never learn the lessons. Plato’s story of Gyges forces us to face human selfishness in our nature. Closer to home, Nien Cheng’s famous memoirs make us realise how really mad we could become when human conduct was beastlike.
Reading List Aldous Huxley, ‘Propaganda Under a Dictatorship’, Brave New World Revisited (Harper, 1986).
Stanley Milgram, ‘The Perils of Obedience’, from Harper’s 24 (Dec., 1973).
Vo Thi Tam ‘From Vietnam, 1979’, from American Mosaic (1980).
Nien Cheng, ‘The Red Guards’, from Life and Death in Shanghai (Harper, 1986).
Plato, ‘The Myth of Gyges’, from The Republic (var. edi.).
E. M. Forster, ‘My Wood’, from Abinger Harvest (Harcourt, 1964).
Edward O. Wilson, ‘Is Humanity Suicidal?’ from Biodiversity II (Joseph Henry, 1997).
Anon. ‘The Price of the Holocaust’, from The Economist (Feb., 1999).
Bruno Bettelheim, ‘The Holocaust’, from Surviving and Other Essays (Vintage Books, 1980).
John Dennis, ‘Survivor’, Pts I & II, from Reflections (Heinle & Heinle, 1994).
Mark Twain, ‘The Lowest Animal’, from The Mysterious Stranger and Other Stories (Dover, 1992).
A Writer's Life: why does it matter? A writer, by definition, is one who writes. The craft of writing, however, is easy to learn but hard to master, or we'd be all writers ourselves. No wonder we admire those who can write well, and we enjoy reading their masterpieces. But how does a writer come to be? What kind of life he was to go through before he may be called a writer? Does he write simply with inborn talent, or does he have to be trained? What can we learn from their lives? Can biographical studies lead us into the inner life of a writer? Is there something we should know if we also want to write well?
We have selected a few well-known authors whose works are quite easily accessed. George Orwell and Virginia Woolf are of course renowned writers. E. B. White's essays are just as brilliant. James Baldwin is from Harlem, and Lewis Thomas is not even a writer by profession. What have these gifted authors in common?
Reading List Lewis Thomas
Stephen Jay Gould
E. B. White
Our World: how much is ours? It is often said that the world is a ‘global village’, that we are all villagers and we should treat each other as such, that Planet Earth belongs to all of us, regardless of race, religion, state of health, and so on. If this is not the case yet, globalization will bring this into being.
Whether this is so remains to be seen. What we can see before our very eyes, however, are struggles: ethnic conflicts, violence between different faiths, men struggling against diseases―rich and poor men alike. And that can surely be global. What are we to do? Should we not at least reflect upon our humanity and try to see how much of this world is truly ours?
Do the cultural baggages we all carry affect how we look at the world? If so, how deeply? How do we look at issues such as Cloning, the Environment, AIDS, Gender Inequality, even Universal Education? What are their social and ethical implications? Are technological innovations making the world better or worse? Can we improve the human condition through a better understanding of our world, or are we the ‘lowest animals’, as Mark Twain once suggested?
Reading List Steven R. Weisman, ‘For Japanese, Cramming for Exams Starts Where the Cradle Leaves Off’, from The New York Times (May, 1998).
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, ‘Why Develop Talent?’ from Talented Teenagers: …(Cambridge University Press, 1993).
Michael Elliott, ‘The Privilege, and Power, of a Small World’, from TIME (August, 2001).
Jeffrey Sachs, ‘A New Map of the World’, from The Economist (June, 2000).
Anon. ‘Who's Top?’ from The Economist (March, 1997).
Anon. ‘Those Educated Asians’, from The Economist (September, 1996).
Edward I. Koch, ‘Death and Justice’, from The New Republic (1985).
Anon. ‘Genetic Engineering’, from Expand Your View (n.d.)
Anna Quindlen, ‘Some Thoughts About Abortion’, from Living Out Loud (Random House, 1988).
Paul Monette, ‘Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir’, from Borrowed Time: an AIDS Memoir (Harcourt Brace, 1988).
Robert James Bidinotto, ‘What Is the Truth About Global Warming?’ from Reader's Digest (December, 1990).
Al Gore, ‘Extension of the Environment Debate’
Alvin Toffler, ‘The World of Tomorrow?’ from Future Shock (Random House, 1970).
‘Relatively Connected’, from Asia Magazine (July, 1998).
George & Helen Papashvily, ‘The First Day’, from Anything Can Happen (Harper & Row, 1943).
J. Watson, ‘McDonald's in East Asia’, from Sunday Morning Post (November, 1993).
Mauricio Rojas, ‘The "End of Work" Fallacy’, from Pfizer Forum (1996).
Mickey Kaus, ‘Yes, Something Will Work: Work’, from Newsweek (May, 1992).
Ruth Conniff, ‘The Culture of Cruelty’, from The Progressive (July, 1992).
Donald A. Norman, ‘The Preface’, from The Psychology of Everyday Things (Basic Books, 1988).
Edward de Bono, ‘New Thinking for the …’, from Teach Yourself to Think (Viking, 1995).
Michael Levin, ‘The Case for Torture’, from Newsweek (1982).
Daniel Callahan, ‘Aid In Dying’, from Commonweal (August, 1991).
Schalk J. van Rensberg, ‘The Science of APARTHEID’, from Harper's Magazine (1998).
Barbara Ehrenreich, ‘Cultural Baggage’, from The N. Y. T. Sunday Magazine (1992).
Alexandra Tantranon-Saur, ‘What's Behind the "Asian Mask"?’ from Our Asian Inheritance (1986).
SUPPORTING PROGRAMMES Writing On Film
While students in Hong Kong seldom write for pleasure, they all love going to the movies. Indeed, one sure way to start students talking is to ask them about their favourite movies. What better way, then, to encourage students to think clearly and critically about life and their social world, and develop their own voices as writers, by teaching them to write on films?
Designed and taught by Mr. Perry Lam, an accomplished writer who’d been the film reviewer of the South China Morning Post for five years, Writing On Filmaddresses one of the most basic issues of effective learning - how to motivate students to actively participate in learning by making the process fun and exciting.
This course is especially recommended to students who have attained a reasonably sound level of English but would like to propel themselves to a new height in their writing skills. Suitable for Form 4 to Form 6 students or equivalent.
The course consists of three Modules. Module I and Module II will be taught in parallel over a period of two months, comprising a total of 16 contact hours. Module III is delivered in 12 two-and-a-half-hour sessions taught over a period of three months.
Module I - Knowing The Basic Facts of Life about Writing
--- Acquiring, interpreting and applying the basic grammatical rules in writing
--- Sentences, phrases and clauses
--- Fragments and how to correct them
--- The use of cohesive devices
--- Writing with clarity, accuracy and style : a “Three S” approach
--- Writer as architect, not housekeeper : an introduction to architectural thinking in writing
Module II - Watching a Film & Learning to Talk about It
--- Director as Author and Story-teller
--- Acting, Plot and Characterization
--- Expression and Comprehension of Meaning in Films
--- Genre and Audience Expectations
--- Film Language and Film Talk
Module III - Writing on Film
--- Watching a Film
--- Responding to a Film : Personal Reflection & Group Discussion
--- Review a Film: Peer Review & Teacher’s Assessment
--- Additional Reading
Choice of Films
Films will be selected according to their artistic merits, relevance to the course and appeal to the students. Due regard will be given to such issues as their subject matter and treatment of individual scenes.