If you check my personal blog under Education you will soon see where I stand on the culture wars. My first reaction, then, to Masters in Pieces by Michael Parker and Fiona Morrison (Cambridge Australia 2006) was “Oh no!” because not only does it support “the canon” but it seems to support it in its least defensible form, an “English canon” — no Tolstoy, no Dante, no Goethe… Or so I thought. In fact, it is a very good book indeed, and politically shrewd, as it will attract the conservatives while delivering more than they expect…
I have been using it for advanced English students in Years 11 and 12.
Last year I also picked up el cheapo Over 4000 Works of Literature from Nodtronics — just $9.95!
Over 4000 Works of Literature is an interactive CD ROM which contains over 4000 complete works by great authors from all over the world including Australia. There are novels, plays, poetry, short stories, sacred texts, essays, the complete King James Bible plus much more.
Also, there are many different screen options such as browsing, increasing screen font size, adding bookmarks, copying and pasting sections of text to your notepad, saving previously read books, printing sections of text or complete novels, and a very powerful search engine. Searching by author, category, or keyword makes Over 4000 Works of Literature a fast and valuable reference guide, or an easy way to enjoy the world’s most loved classics for the cost of one paperback!
The texts are searchable too. It is readable enough, but I still prefer physical books, I must say. But this could keep me up late at night for some time to come.
On Masters in Pieces I commend Life Matters: 23 January 2007 to listen to or download. There you will hear:
1. The Teacher That Inspired Me: Gideon Haigh’s Mr Keary
2. Accelerating Gifted Students
3. Masters in Pieces: The Canon and the English Curriculum
4. Nursery Rhymes
5. Mem Fox.
It is a brilliant episode of this excellent series.