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14
September
2020

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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14
September
2020

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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07
September
2020

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!

McMo

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16
February
2018

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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05
October
2017

'Antony and Cleopatra', a play for the 21st century

'the Shakespeare play most likely to feel essential in the 21st century'

Three decades ago, Herman Northrop Frye, whose contributions to cultural and social criticism earned him widespread recognition as a literary theorist, described Antony and Cleopatra as ‘the Shakespeare play most likely to feel essential in the 21st century’.

This seems a remarkable prediction when we consider what type of world we live in now – a world of rapid globalisation and with an ever-increasing speed in the flow of information; a multi-cultural world in which we can eat Swiss muesli for breakfast, Italian pizza for lunch and Japanese sushi for dinner; a world in which we can stay at home but still witness the opulence of a first-world resort, the decadence of a casino, the devastation of a real-life war zone or the aftermath of a terrorist attack on TV.

So why would Frye predict that this play would ‘feel essential’?

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17
April
2017

To Ebook or Not?

Are eBooks still the rage that they were 3 years ago?

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04
February
2017

The Ratpack comes of age

To celebrate the Ratpack’s 21st year in production, Macrat plans to honour our regular contributors by including a short biography in this year’s issues. One of our contributors responded with the following message: “21 years of the Ratpack! Can it be? I have every issue from the first volume, filed in lever-arch binders in my study at home. While paging through the various Ratpacks, I am struck by the wealth of material that is available for English teachers.”

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27
September
2016

A novel with all the ingredients of a soapie ...

  • A cold, domineering father
  • A gentle, compliant daughter
  • A mercenary, manipulative suitor
  • An eccentric aunt in love with the idea of love
  • A plot filled with betrayal, cruelty, suffering …

    The ingredients of a soapie? They certainly could be ... but they refer to a novel set for IEB 2017 ...

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