ST ANTHONY'S CANOSSIAN SECONDARY SCHOOL

Mix of modern and classic works

St Anthony's Canossian Secondary School students performing a local rendition of Romeo And Juliet. The school gets its students to dramatise Shakespeare's plays so they can overcome their phobia of Shakespearean language.
St Anthony's Canossian Secondary School students performing a local rendition of Romeo And Juliet. The school gets its students to dramatise Shakespeare's plays so they can overcome their phobia of Shakespearean language. PHOTO: ST ANTHONY'S CANOSSIAN SECONDARY SCHOOL

Kristen Oliveiro struggled with literature in her first semester in Secondary 1 as it was an unfamiliar subject. "But the poems and prose that we studied helped me learn basic literary skills and move on to fuller texts," said the 15-year-old St Anthony's Canossian Secondary School student.

She is now taking literature as an elective subject and hopes to study it in junior college.

Some of the texts she read were by local writers, such as Missing, a poem by Alfian Sa'at, and Kevin, a short story by Catherine Lim.

"The texts were more contemporary and they reminded me of school, childhood and growing up in Singapore," said Kristen.

The Secondary 3 student is now studying The Joy Luck Club, a 1989 novel by Amy Tan about four immigrant women from China and their US-born daughters.

"I can relate to the mother-daughter relationships in the story. The language is also pretty modern and a lot easier to understand," said Kristen. "(In contrast,) Shakespeare's plays have a lot of literary devices and metaphors to plough through."

She added: "Literature is interesting and it helps me to better analyse content, even in other mediums such as the media."

"It also helps me to understand and identify with emotions, conflict and tensions in characters."

Mrs Jannine Kuah, the school's subject head for literature, said that it tries to expose students to local and international works, as well as modern and classic texts.

"We let the students dramatise Shakespeare so that they can be more confident and get over their phobia of Shakespearean language," she said.

"We try to use contemporary texts that have themes that are more relevant for young people, to get them engaged," she added.

"It's really about making the subject accessible to them."


Amelia Teng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2015, with the headline 'Mix of modern and classic works'. Print Edition | Subscribe