The Importance of Being Offred

The Importance of Being Offred

Why should we study Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale in 2022?

I can think of several reasons why the novel is worthwhile of study:

  • The novel addresses important matters such as the individual in a community;
  • The novel also addresses the value of defiance in a society that lacks freedoms;
  • The novel presents the reader with an image of totalitarianism, and invites us to scrutinize it;
  • The novel addresses the role of women in society;
  • The novel addresses the significance of the line of succession in a society;
  • The novel grants the reader the opportunity to engage in an exploration of a narrative voice.

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Lift thrust drag weight


If you have had enough of doom and gloom and neat categories and bleak outlooks, then this is the book for you!

The protagonist, Imogen, is uplifting in every way. She has been carried on her mother’s back as a baby and toddler, and perhaps this is where her lightness of being originates.

She was born from a golden egg, and she spreads warmth and healing wherever she goes.

To those who long for gravitas in literature, fear not. This novel does not gloss over weighty themes. It is set in an Africa we know. Harsh realities of crime, violence, disease, brutality: they are still present. But somehow Genie (Imogen) transcends them.

She is rooted in African soil, but like a sunflower, she seeks the sunshine and you will love the way she soars.


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Teaching 'North and South'

A Labour of Love

Labouring through Tess of the D’Urbervilles in matric is the reason my husband proffers for not reading novels today.  He describes the book, one which for many is a great classic, as a boring book about a milkmaid who falls pregnant and dies. I often reflect on his response to literature when reading the latest novel set for matric, especially if it’s a classic.

The truth is that I really didn’t expect to enjoy Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel, North and South, as much as I did.

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Teaching 'The Dream House'

I remember this being a common catch-phrase when I was growing up.

“Mom, can my pocket money be increased?”
“Dream on.”

“Dad, I wish we were going to the sea for Christmas…”
“Dream on.”

And even to myself…”I want to run away from home… dream on!”

So, it was with some trepidation that I undertook to write the study manual for a book with “Dream” in the title! And ironically, there is that same sense of ennui that goes with the catch phrase.

But there’s also so much more.

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Top 10 Reasons to use Macrat’s Study Manuals

I can’t help but burst with pride when we publish new material, especially study manuals. The material is just so goooooooooood!

There are obviously many other study guides or cram books on the market, but they just don’t match up with Macrat’s workbooks. They are too short; they encourage rote learning; they are too detailed; they are too expensive; they don’t encourage learners to consider the plot and characters … in fact, there is not one other study guide that I would recommend.

Granted, I am biased, but I honestly do have good grounds to base my opinions on. Macrat’s intention has never been to do all the work of the teacher or the learner; instead the manuals are designed to make learners think about the inner workings of their literature texts so that they can answer any question that might come their way. Background information of the author and novel is readily available at the library or on the internet. Macrat rather concentrates on why things happen, how and why characters react the way they do and what the intention behind the novel might have been. Learners who consider issues and formulate sound arguments around these issues are the ones that succeed!

A summary of the 10 good reasons to use Macrat's study manuals:

1.  Workbooks that make learners think for themselves.
2.  Space for learners to jot down answers and ideas.
3.  Learners are encouraged to explore the motives of characters and understand the
     plot so that any question can be answered.
4.  Strong emphasis on the use of quotes to substantiate opinions.
5.  Suggested answers included at the back of the manual.
6.  Comments by critics and reviews give learners a sense of what other people
     think of the text, so that they can critically evaluate their own thinking.
7.  Extension or ‘fun’ activities inspire writing and speaking about the text which leads
     to a greater familiarity which, in turn, results in learners who can think out of the      
     box when answering essay questions.
8.  Excellent value for money.
9.  Includes prep for essay questions: shows how to plan effectively rather than just
     learn a few ‘canned’ answers.
10.  Includes contextual questions which are excellent for revision, or can be used as a personal  
       test to check understanding of the text.

Macrat:  the very best you can buy!


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Teaching Tenses

Need to review the twelve tenses in your language lessons? The following sites and games can help you do this in a fun way …

An understanding of the different tenses in English can be challenging for Additional Language learners, so finding fun ways to get students to use and practice their tenses can go a long way towards helping them succeed in this area of their language learning.  One useful online site for this is Dave’s ELS Café, (http://www.eslcafe.com/), a treasure trove of ideas for numerous aspects of teaching language.

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5 Reasons you should subscribe to the Ratpack Resources

Don't miss out on Macrat's most versatile product!

A teacher recently asked me why she should subscribe to the ‘Ratpack Resources’ if she already has a text book to use in class. I immediately thought about my first high school English teacher who assured us that she had learnt English despite only having one single book. (How thankful I was that I had been able to enjoy a wider choice of books to develop my love of the English language.) The question about subscribing, however, is a valid one and I wanted to respond by providing five of the most compelling reasons why English teachers should subscribe.

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Macrat’s word of the year: COPYWRONG

Competing with ‘fake news’ that was recently voted the 2017 Word of the Year (WOTY), and the 2016 WOTY ‘post-truth’, you might wonder why we have selected ‘copywrong’.

The short answer is: Because it is wrong to infringe copyright.

This year has brought the question of copyright into sharp focus at the Macrat office, as a number of DBE curriculum advisors saw fit to copy Macrat material and distribute it to teachers in their groups (without paying for it).

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