Narratives are central to English, and especially to literary study. Narrative forms of literary fiction and drama dominate curricular programmes of study and demand substantial amounts of teaching time. The process of narration preoccupies English teachers too. How do narrators in novels present information to us as readers? How do they guide our responses? Though we recognise ‘narration’ as a key concept in English, we have directed less systematic attention to narration by English teachers and its distinctiveness as a feature of subject pedagogy. The skill teachers of English demonstrate when they present and frame narrative texts for students is expert and subtle, often involving re-narration of episodes in a study text, purposed to specific learning goals. Even adept practitioners, with great humility, describe their whole-class teaching around narrative texts as ‘just reading’, though they shape engaging, thought-provoking and often profound encounters with literature. It is important to acknowledge this dimension of subject expertise, to identify it and describe it. Doing so allows us to recognise expert practice, and can inform mentoring to guide new teachers of English rapidly towards these high-level skills. The best possible student experiences of literary narrative texts are at stake.
|Published - 10 Feb 2021