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A Note for Teachers

In 1998 the School Certificate Chief Examiner's Report criticised the lack of depth in the short stories chosen for students to study. It said stories by such stalwarts as: Roald Dahl, Patricia Grace and Witi Ihimaera did not always give students enough substance for them to gain high marks.

A recurring criticism in Bursary examination commentaries was that teachers chose short stories that failed to meet the requirements of the UB prescription and the demands of the exam. One commented that some of the short stories used would be more appropriate at Year 10 level! The 1997 examiner went further: "Teachers need to be careful, though, that the texts are appropriate. Some candidates clearly struggled with writers more suited to university level and others found it difficult to squeeze anything meaningful from some rather shallow and insubstantial texts."

Owen Marshall remains the second most commonly studied short story writer after Katherine Mansfield at NCEA Level 3 level. Markers have commented that his stories are suitable for this level and that students using them have been able to gain good marks.

I would welcome your suggestions for further Owen Marshall short stories to study at different levels. The following are some that we have tried, tested and enjoyed. The lower down the list: the more challenging the story.

Level 1

The Fat Boy

The Paper Parcel

Cometh the Hour

Kenneth's Friend

Prince Valiant

Level 3

Cabernet Sauvignon with my Brother

Mr Van Gogh

Father and Son

Guest of Honour

Heating the World

The Rule of Jenny Pen

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