Our Mad World: a GBL+PBL mash-up study of ‘Cosi’ by Louis Nowra

Year 12 Standard classes are notoriously difficult to teach. The students either find English irrelevant or have never experienced success in English – or both.

Each time I am allocated a Standard HSC class I promise myself I will make our work relevant, engaging and fun. I can’t say that I have achieved any of those goals fully with my current Year 12 class. We have certainly had fun … my favourite experience so far with them has been taking them geocaching at a local creek to help them feel a true sense of belonging or not belonging to ‘place’.

This term we study the play ‘Cosi’ by Louis Nowra. This is a play set in a mental institution … in the 1970s! Can it get any more irrelevant for my kids? Of course as an English teacher I can be creative and make it sorta relevant … you know, through all those magical ‘universal themes’ about love, loss, madness, jealousy, war, betrayal and stuff. I could talk about that stuff until I was blue (red, purple, sepia, magenta?) in the face and my students would still say, ‘How many pages do we need to write for this essay and how many quotes?’ Bloody HSC exam.

So I decided to introduce a gaming element to our study of the play, you know, for fun and a bit of competition. I want to get these guys thinking about learning in a new way. It’s probably not really gaming (I am a total n00b at games and will continue to be so even as my interest in them as literary texts increases) but there are elements stolen from games … and all of the structure is stolen (as always) from my great mate Dean Groom. Let’s just say it’s a PBL+GBL mash-up of sorts. I’m looking forward to getting the students using social media to share their learning … hope you can support their journey by following this hashtag: #OMW12

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