Pupil X is 6 (summer born) – her reading diary reveals she has read all the classics: Wuthering Heights, A Christmas Carol and even ‘Umbrella’ by Will Self (she likes that one particularly.) Indeed, she only stopped using her reading diary when ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ didn’t fit into the box – she rated it a 🙂 though.
Pupil X reads l’Etranger by Albert Camus. In dialogue with the teacher, she notes that the English translation of the title has two possibilities: the Stranger and the Outsider. She concludes that the Outsider is a better translation, because “Mersault doesn’t really belong there.” She draws on her knowledge of French colonial history to clarify this, saying, “The French colonists never really belonged in Algeria, despite feeling they did.” Comparisons are made by her to other colonial-based works, especially those written by British authors in India. Recently she finished “Orientalism” by Edward Said, but didn’t really understand it, like most adults.
Pupil X loves the character of Mersault. His impulse driven character reminds her of Ash in Pokemon or Amir Khan from ‘I’m a celebrity get me out of here’. She notes, having a rudimentary understanding of French, that Mersault’s name is a play on the words: “the first bit is like the French word for sea, which is mer and the second bit is like the word for sun, but it isn’t quite right, as I know it should be soleil.”
In discussion with the teacher pupil X reflects on the relationship between Mersault and Maria, noting that she wanted an ordinary relationship, but Mersault wasn’t bothered: “its like those two on strictly, she wanted him to leave his wife, but he wouldn’t have any of it.”
Pupil X puts forward the thesis that existentialism is an every day thing for a 6 year old and that a lot of the themes in the book make total sense to her. “Sometimes I want to do handstands, other times to just run about but I mostly feel like going on the monkey bars – so I get how Mersault wants to do as he pleases.”
In discussion with the teacher pupil X concludes that capital punishment is bad. She draws on her knowledge of the use of capital punishment down the ages and says “you can’t get executed for simply not being able to handle the sun and sea, it’s not fair.”
Pupil X reads widely and notes down difficult words. She uses her knowledge of phonics to decode antidisestablishmentarian and Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.
For these reasons she is working at greater depth within the expected standard.