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Sartre in a Paragraph.

I wonder, on occasion, just where the people involved in the education field are coming from.

On Sundays, I tutor a year eleven class in advanced English. It's at a coaching college, so the work is laid out on worksheets, and you move through them. It's a good class (hi girls, if you're reading) but I'm constantly amazed by the kind of things that appear on the worksheets. A couple of weeks ago, it was placing a play into the context of Sartre's concept of existentialism, taken from the book Being and Nothingness. Now, in and of itself, this is not a problem.

But.

Being and Nothingness is around six hundred and fifty pages, at least the edition I own. It's a chunk of a book. It is also a chunk of a book and a slab of a writer that the class has never heard of before, because, shocking as it might appear, Sartre's work is not part of the regular school. You would think that, if you were designing this sheet, you would be well aware that neither Sartre or Being and Nothingness were high on the list of things to be read at highschool. Why, it doesn't even rate in the top favourite hundred books. A sure sign, I feel.

On the sheet provided, however, existentialism was described in one medium sized paragraph, and Sartre in a slightly larger one following it. Then followed a two scenes from one of Sartre's plays, for the class to analyse, placing it in a contextual reading of existentialism.

Naturally, I hear you say.

Comments

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shadowsandice
Aug. 14th, 2004 10:59 pm (UTC)
I didn't meat existentialism till university, and regretted it.
benpeek
Aug. 14th, 2004 11:06 pm (UTC)
i don't mind it. it's interesting in places. but like most things, you can't teach it fully from a paragraph in an hour and a half to people who've never heard of it.
shadowsandice
Aug. 14th, 2004 11:19 pm (UTC)
It won't come up in any exams, and for those going on to do theory in uni, it won't be such a weird and strange concept.

(Do wish comments came with an edit option. I really meant 'meet'.)
benpeek
Aug. 14th, 2004 11:33 pm (UTC)
heh. you can delete and redo a comment.

anyhow, it won't help them, having done it. they'll forget about it, and it isn't necessary in exams, which is my point, so why bother giving them such a dodge retelling of it. just wait for a while.
shadowsandice
Aug. 14th, 2004 11:36 pm (UTC)
Supposedly it helps whoever set the material sleep at night, after having done their part to nudge poor wee HSC students down the path of their first existential crisis.
bodhichitta0
Aug. 15th, 2004 03:00 pm (UTC)
I confess to being curious about HOW they described it in a paragraph. I don't consider myself to be an academic slouch and I think we tackled that sophomore year at the university in Humanities.
benpeek
Aug. 15th, 2004 10:28 pm (UTC)
i can't remember the paragraph off heart, and it was a bit confusing, but generally it was on the lines of 'placing the individual above social rules'.

and it wasn't even clear on that, really.
switchknitter
Aug. 16th, 2004 02:53 am (UTC)
This post hurt my brain.

-- The ex-Sartre nut
benpeek
Aug. 17th, 2004 05:22 am (UTC)
the whole lesson made my head hurt. i spent most of it trying to explain it for them, and figure i only did a passable job.
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