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Stewart McGowan's blog

Archive for the month “February, 2016”

The Walking Dead. A Marxist Reading

Okay, a faux Marxist reading.

I was messing around with some friends on one of my favourite political sites on a slow night. I’d been talking to Year 12 about alternative readings of texts, so when someone suggested that reading The Walking Dead in bizarre ways might be fun, I chimed in. Below, written in facebook speak, is my faux Marxist reading of The Walking Dead.

God, you all sound like the conservative twats who wouldn’t know social policy if it bit them. The zombie apocalypse as portrayed in Walking Dead is a construction designed to cater to right wing thought. Survival of the fittest over social co-operation. Why is Trump so successful? Because of the fiction of the walking dead!

The zombies are constructed as a parody of the left. They represent, for rightards, the fate of those addicted to social welfare and ‘nanny state’ handouts, a shuffling unproductive mass that cruelly pillories working people. The gay abandon with which the Ayn Rand Atlas Shrugged-esque protagonists blow the crap out the Zombies is in fact a paen to the anti-Union propaganda of the nutbar libertarian right.

And don’t get me started on the denial of science inherent in the shifting ‘rules’ by which the zombies shuffle. Clearly a product placement from the denialists at Heartland.

Naturally I have only watched occasional episodes but I reckon you’d need to be brain-dead yourself not to see this as propaganda straight from the Tea Party libertarians designed to undermine Obama and all the advances of his Presidency.

If you wish to baffle a Year 12 class, feel free to borrow some of my excessive language. It led to an interesting conversation about the significance of social cohesion in TWD…

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Games in the classroom meets Focus on Reading

In the last mETAphor I published an article identifying a few games that were appropriate for use in the classroom. (If you’re an ETA member you can access the article here: http://www.englishteacher.com.au/. Login and you’ll get access to the issue.)

This week I did some work incorporating one of the games into our Year 8 Horror unit. Terry Cavanagh’s game Don’t Look Back, published by Kongregate, is a deceptive, 8-bit style game that at first seems like an old-fashioned 80’s platformer. When you play it, though, you begin to realise that it is re-telling the Orpheus story. Most of my class were able to play the game through in less than a period. Don't_Look_Back

Playing a game through and relating it to the story is one thing, using the experience as part of learning in the classroom is another. So I designed a couple of lessons. I’ve also done a fair bit of work on Focus on Reading, so I decided to incorporate aspects of literacy teaching best practice into the lessons. The result is this PowerPoint. It includes the early activities where students play the game through and then the explicit literacy teaching. Horror writing 8 v2

Naturally this is available for use in classrooms but I expect that my copyright will be acknowledged. Leave my name on the slides, folks. If you are in a Focus on Reading school or you decide to modify and improve the work for your own classes, I’d love to know how this goes.

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