28 January 2010 @ 10:39 pm
Of Short Stories and (Not Quite So) Critical Thinking  
One is One and All Alone by Nicholas Fisk is about a girl named Trish, who is the only child on a spaceship to Trion, with the setting took place in 2045. She is a lonely, 11-years-old girl, and in need of a friend her age before arriving at their destination in 2047. Her father is an important figure working on the spaceship, and her mother is working on Trion. Her only companion is VP, her VoicePrinter which acts as her diary, teacher and instructor, as well as a 'friend'.

This story is about her and her discovery on having a secret friend, aka making a clone of herself.

Sounds interesting, isn't it? This story is one of two short stories for the new Literature Component for English Language (Form 1 -3), aside from Flipping Fantastic by Jane Langford.

While the story itself sound interesting, and very... well, futuristic, what with the high-tech stuff going on with cloning as its theme, I definitely would not be stupid enough to actually suggest it to my 13-15 years old secondary students for leisure reading (let alone compulsory reading texts), no matter how easy it is to digest the language and what is actually going on in the story. Unless I really sure that they are able to think critically for themselves and not just taking anything for granted.

If you have read the story itself (or maybe from the first link above, but there are some pages missing since it is only a preview. You should be able to grasp the main plot though.), you would probably understand why I'm saying this. For me and most of my friends, this story should not be in compulsory literature texts at all.

While, the language is simple, straight-forward and easy to digest, the theme is dark and complex. I'm not saying that Malaysian students are not able to think for themselves, but they are used to being spoon-feed by their teachers all the time that they will probably think it is alright for the events in this story to happen.

Even if it is about killing oneself.    

At first she likes it; she has someone to talk to apart from VP, someone to play with, and someone who can give back opinions without being programmed to do it. She only has to hide the clone, which she called  Clo, from everyone else on the ship.

Until she realised that Clo practically thinks and does anything that she's thinking and doing, and that Clo has habits that she finds annoying. Which, not suprisingly, she doesn't realise she is doing it herself.

The story turns creepy when Trish has the idea of disposing Clo. But it is not Clo who got disposed by Trish; it ended the other way around, and no one is aware that the Trish is no longer Trish, but a clone of hers. Not even her father, because it supposed to show that Clo is Trish, clone or not.

My thoughts after reading this story are 'What kind of horror story is this?' and 'Oh man, I have to teach my students this story!'. Really, who are the ones who crazy enough to suggest this story and agree for this story to be put in the Literature Component? I can't, or maybe failed, to see the moral values in this story, as well as good themes that can be taught to students. If anything, teaching this story is the same as telling them that it is fine to kill another being. Or, in Clo's case, killed the real entity in order to live.

I refuse to think of the bad possibilities for the students who have twins.

This story is not meant for lower secondary students, not when the class environment makes the students absorb everything without doing some serious thinking (unless if they are told, 'This is where you have to think.')


I prefer to teach the stupidly sweet and cheesy, full of family values Flipping Fantastic rather than this story. Anytime.
 
 
Listening: Shangri-La - angela
At: ipba, where else
Feeling: bitchy