So a great response to students who ask why they have to learn about medieval world history is that it tells us the roots of our modern system. Indeed, the modern examination system will likely be a part of many of my students' lives as they journey toward their own career choices. In fact, as I type this, they are taking a well-deserved break after toiling away at their second-to-last MCAS exam of the school year. So they are already experienced with exam requirements since they must pass MCAS in order to graduate successfully from high school.
Pu Songling was not one of the lucky ones.
|Pu Songling (1640-1715)|
Pu Songling was born to a poor landlord-merchant family and yearned to have a high profile career in the imperial government. Like many others in China, he studied for hours and hours for the civil service examinations. As part of his studies, he became rather talented at reading literature and writing his own compositions. One of his most famous is called "Seven Likenesses of a Candidate" describes the disappointing and frustrating process of studying for the exam, taking the exam, waiting for the results, learning of the failure, and deicing to try again. Princeton University's Berkshire Encyclopedia of China conveniently includes Pu Songling's writing within its well-written article about civil service examinations in general. It provides nice context and historical background for students.
In Pu Songling's descriptive account, he uses imagery and simile to describe the roller coaster of emotions an exam candidate must go through.
|Excerpted from Berkshire Encyclopedia of China|
- a beggar
- a prisoner
- a cold bee in late autumn
- a sick bird out of a cage
- a chimpanzee in captivity
- a poisoned fly no longer able to move
- a turtle dove just hatched
First we read the passage and identified the "Seven Likenesses". Then I divided up the passage into 7 parts.
This is how I divided it up:
Next I assigned the students to 8 groups. Seven of the groups each got one of the parts of the passage and the 8th group was in charge of the introduction. I projected these simple instructions on the Smartboard and told them to get started.
We used the last 15 minutes of class to do the actual filming. Because everything was already scripted and rehearsed, some classes did it in on the first or second try. By the end of the class period we had filmed the video and even uploaded it to YouTube!
Here are some of the final products!