A teacher contacted me recently regarding the 'ambiguities and paradox' aspect of the Common Module and how best to evaluate it. I think that this aspect of the guidelines is clearly evident in '1984' . I have always hated the 'unpack the rubric' approach because as became so clear with 'Discovery', many students end up with a 'tick a box' or 'paint by numbers' type of textual commentary rather than personalised analysis. Orwell's political purpose is so crystal clear in his essays, and in his '1984' diarist approach and richly layered ironic representational techniques. As a social commentator and critic, he was justly praised for his language usage, sharp insight and political awareness. Such skills are evident in the way he he develops his core dystopic concepts of oppression, dehumanisation and rebellion. His use of verisimilitude and simulacrum conveys Party duplicity and indoctrination while O'Brien's revelations about Party ideology and methodology demonstrates the gulf between their motivations and those that drive the humanist concerns Winston grapples with. Given the representational focus of the module -examination of the varied satiric techniques Orwell has used, including oxymoron, hyperbole and allegory, students have a wealth of textual 'scenes' such as the 'Two Minute Hate' where they can examine how his layered satiric emphasis is achieved.
It is difficult for many students to make the leap from commentary to analysis but that is one of the key elements of this new syllabus, namely us teaching and reinforcing analytical approaches and styles through 'short' explicit examples.
Thank goodness the 'study guide' approach has seen its day as a way teachers approach textual study and welcome the reader response and journal alternatives.
Looking over Orwell's essays and finding some excellent ones that really clarify his writing motivations, has helped clarify why such contextualisation skills are key to really understanding the complexity of representation. He clearly asserts why he wrote with didactic purpose and why and how explored the power of language. Many schools have chosen '1984' and it is a brilliant text for this module because even at a structural level, the experiential range across the three social classes in Oceania is an excellent platform to evaluate 'Human "Experiences'. As Margaret Atwood noted, '1984' is a 'visionary text which casts its 'shadows over our future.'
Not sure which text I will tackle next but I hope you enjoy teaching '1984'.