Hieroglyphics and Other Stories
Six of the short stories from the collection, Hieroglyphics and Other Stories, are set texts for the SQA National 5 Examination.
All That Glisters Dear Santa Away In A Manger Zimmerobics Virtual Pals A Chitterin Bite
Anne has recorded audio versions of three of the stories (All That Glisters, Dear Santa and Away In A Manger). You can listen to them here.
Anne has also written teaching materials for all these stories and they are available to teachers through the Education Scotland website. Access these directly by clicking this link. (You will need a Glow account to access them.)
Film and Media Resources
A lovely short animated film of All That Glisters was made by Claire Lamond. It was shown at the Edinburgh Film Festival and nominated for a Scottish BAFTA Award. The film is available to view here.
A programme on All that Glisters was made as part of a BBC Education series on Scottish Short Stories in 2007; it includes interviews with the author and a dramatisation of parts of the story. English departments may still have copies of the series.
Excerpts from the broadcast on All That Glisters can be viewed here.
A note from Anne
I was delighted when some of my stories were chosen as Scottish texts for the National 5 Exam (though I am sorry that Hieroglyphics wasn’t one of the stories chosen). I’ve always written short stories and love reading them.
The form of the short story is quite different from the novel. There is less narrative; it relies on economy, imagery and symbolic use of language. In some ways it is more akin to a poem. A short story needs space to breathe. It’s like throwing a stone into a pool and watching the ripples move outward from it.
The stories I write revolve round a significant event in the character’s life. The event may not be a ‘big’ life-changing event, like a death; it might be quite a small event, but it must have significance for the character, making her/him think, reflect, change in some deep way.
As students read the stories, I hope that the idea of the significant event should become a more meaningful concept to them.
The teaching materials I wrote for Education Scotland are copyright to them so I can’t reproduce them here, but I would like to let teachers know my thinking on a possible approach to the stories. As always, teachers will use their own knowledge and creativity when choosing whether to use or adapt any resources available.
Assessment of the Scottish texts in the examination is by textual analysis: students answer questions on an extract from one of the stories, as well as write a ‘mini-essay’, showing knowledge and understanding of several stories and an ability to compare and contrast such areas as theme, character and language.
Therefore students have to read all six stories and have an understanding of some of the links between them. I think this is quite challenging and my suggestion would be to start with three stories which ‘fall together’ in fairly obvious ways (each story features a parent/child relationship, each is set at Christmas and all the stories use Glasgow dialect). My order would be:
All That Glisters
Away In A Manger
This would give students an insight into some of the main themes and techniques used in the stories, as well as introducing the idea of comparing and contrasting stories. Then the class could go on to work on a different topic or text.
Later, at a suitable point, Zimmerobics might be studied. It provides some contrast, as the narrator is an elderly lady and the story is told in a slightly Scottish form of English, rather than in Scots, but there are similarities in theme.
Virtual Pals and A Chitterin Bite could be grouped together, either along with Zimmerobics or at a later point in the term. Each of these stories has two narrators: Virtual Pals is told in email and A Chitterin Bite is narrated in different voices by Mary, as child and adult. These are stories in which language itself is a theme, though there are also thematic links to the earlier stories.
Some teachers have told me they have not been able to find the teaching materials. The Glow Website has recently been updated so I hope this is no longer a problem. If you are unable to access the materials I suggest you contact Education Scotland.
There are teaching materials on all the set Scottish texts, written by experienced teachers, on the website.
A play version of the short story Hieroglyphics is available in Scottish Plays for Schools (ed. Roy Mcgregor and Liz Niven) published by ASLS. This is a collection of six plays by contemporary Scottish Writers, suitable for use in schools.
Scotnotes on Buddha Da by Christopher Nicol
This book is part of the excellent Scotnotes series. Scotnotes are study guides on Scottish authors and poets, for senior school pupils and students, commissioned and published by the ASLS.
It examines the novel’s structure, characters and language, and addresses the larger questions of philosophy and spirituality that it raises. Notes on Anne’s second novel, Being Emily, are also included.
Other Educational Work
Anne has delivered in-service on Scots in Education for teachers and students and does workshops and readings in secondary schools. She is involved with GCU Caledonian Club’s work in primary schools.
Anne has worked on several educational projects, including:
The Kist: The Kist/A Chiste (edited by Robbie Robertson) is a wonderful resource for upper primary and secondary pupils. It contains prose, poetry and drama in various dialects of Scots, and in Gaelic. (Texts in Gaelic have been translated.) There are audio versions of all texts and teaching materials. Many schools may still have the books and some texts from the Kist are now available online through Education Scotland.
Turnstones 1: (Edited by Robbie Robertson) First book in a series for Secondary English, with a focus on reading and writing.
Scottish Education: (Edited by TGK Bryce and WM Humes) With Liz Niven, Anne co-authored an article on Scots Language in Education for this comprehensive guide to Scottish Education, edited by Bryce and Humes. Of particular interest to teachers and teachers in training.