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An Edwardian Morning Tea: Year 12 Literature

Year 12 Literature students are preparing for their ATAR exam in a fresh way.

On Thursday 15 October, the Year 12 Literature class were participants in an ‘Edwardian At-home’. They were able to experience first-hand the way the privileged classes in London spent their leisure hours during the Edwardian period (also called the ‘gilded age’). The students dressed in fine clothes and engaged in social ‘chit-chat’ in keeping with the era.

As part of their ATAR Literature studies this year, the class engaged with the drama text Pygmalion, written by G. B. Shaw. Mr Shaw wrote this play as a way to try to enlighten the middle and upper classes of British society on the plight and real conditions of the working and poorer classes. It was interesting for the students to learn the real meanings behind the popular play, which was subsequently made into the feature film, My Fair Lady.

In order to prepare and revise for the ATAR exams in a fresh way, the students were each allocated a character from the play and were set the task of learning the speech patterns and values of their character. They were also asked to memorise significant quotations from the text.

As they interacted with each other in character over morning tea, the students gained new and profound insights into the way more advantaged people lived. The fine china, dainty food, and restrictive clothing really helped them to experience the strong contrast between Eliza Doolittle’s life and class limitations before her transformation at the hands of Professor Higgins, who, like Shaw himself, saw language as the great leveller which would bring a restructuring of society.

This was an entertaining and engaging way of reinforcing not only the course content, but also our Christian views about the issues suggested by Shaw, and the contrast between God’s view of what is important, and what society presents as mattering most in life.

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