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Maturità 2014/ Svolgimento Inglese, seconda prova linguistico: di Maria Bond (Esami di Stato, oggi 19 giugno 2014)

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TESTO LETTERARIO – LINGUA INGLESE

1. What is the protagonist’s main problem? 
The protagonist’s main problem, as he himself expresses at the beginning of the passage, is that he is invisible to others. 

2. How does the protagonist feel about being invisible? 
The protagonist says that being invisible has some advantages, but that it is “wearing on the nerves”, meaning that it is irritating and exhausting. This is because it makes him angry to be constantly bumped and pushed by people who do not see him, but it also means that he constantly comes to doubt his own existence and then try to prove to himself that he does indeed exist.

3. What happened to him one night?
One night, he bumped into a man, and, when this man refused to apologize for the collision, he began to beat the man, almost killing him.

4. What does the man he bumped into look like? 
The man he bumped into was tall, with blond hair and blue eyes.

5. What does the protagonist ask him to do?
The protagonist tells the man to apologize because the man called him an insulting name.

6. Does the white man see the protagonist? Justify your answer by referring to the text. 
In the text it states that, after bumping into the protagonist, “perhaps because of the near darkness, he saw me”. Thus, in that moment, it seems that the white man sees the protagonist. However, right when the protagonist is about to kill the other man, he realizes that “the man had not seen me actually”. Finally, after the incident, the protagonist laughs because “something in this man’s thick head had sprung out and beaten him within an inch of his life”. From these two final quotes, it seems clear that, though the white man sees the protagonist, he does not really see him, that is, he sees his own idea (in his “thick head”) of the protagonist. In fact, at the beginning of the passage, the protagonist makes it clear that he is not biologically, physically invisible, but that people, when looking at him, see only “my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination”. Thus, the white man sees what he imagines the protagonist to be like, instead of realizing who the protagonist really is.

7. How do you explain the protagonist’s aggression toward the white man? Substantiate your answer by referring to the text. 
The protagonist reacts aggressively to the man both because of what happened in that particular incident, since the white man calls him an insulting name, but also because he is full of rage on account of his being invisible and having people constantly bumping into him. In the second paragraph of the passage, he states that, “out of resentment, you begin to bump back”.  After months and months, years and years of being bumped, he has had enough. He also states that he becomes aggressive, “you strike out with your fists”, “to make them recognize you”. Thus, aggression is a last attempt to make someone see him for who he is and not stop at his appearance.

8. Does the protagonist justify his aggression? If yes, how? 
At first, immediately after the incident, the protagonist feels “disgusted and ashamed” by what he did. However, after this immediate reaction, the protagonist begins to think about the incident and it makes him laugh. He realizes that, even after being beaten almost to death by him, the man he beat still did not really see him. He feels compassion for the man, but it does not seem that he regrets what he did. As he mentioned at the beginning of the article, the protagonist is constantly being bumped into and it seems that, to him, it is inevitable that he will start to bump back because he is angry and because he wants to be really seen for the first time.

 

Composition: Do you think that being invisible is a common experience for people? Can you recognise individuals or groups among people that you know that are considered invisible? By whom? For what reasons? What is your reaction? Write a 300-word paragraph on the topic. 
Being invisible is a very common experience, and one that most people have probably had at some point in their life, but there are some groups of people who collectively and individually are almost always invisible. In most, if not every society, the poor are invisible in the same way that the man in the passage was. 
The poor are invisible to the government and to most of the people who are not poor. In my opinion, the poor are invisible mostly because people would rather not think about the fact that they exist and would rather not have to contribute money, time or possessions to help them.
However, the poor are also invisible because of stereotypes and prejudices, like the man in the passage. For example, a commonly held belief about poor people is that they are poor because they are lazy, that they live off of the money given by the government, which comes from other people’s tax money, and that they do not even try to get a job. I believe that there may be some people like this, but that most poor people are caught in a vicious cycle of poverty, unable to focus on school because they have to work, then unable to get a better job because they lack credentials. They are unable to better their lives because of prejudiced people, and because they are bitter from living in terrible situations where violence and drugs are rampant. If some people are lazy, living off of the government, it might be simply that they have given up after long, long years of hard work getting nowhere. 
Another reason that poor people are invisible, and not seen for who they really are, is that others assume that they are criminals or that they are dirty, diseased or on drugs. People are scared of the poor and invent excuses not to help them and to ask the government to help them less. Though it is true that a higher percentage of poor people will be criminals and may have diseases, in many cases, this is through no fault of their own but is the consequence of their circumstances, like the man in the passage who beats the white man who insults him and who refuses to see him for who he is.

 

TESTO DI ATTUALITA’ – LINGUA INGLESE

1. What is the purpose of the scheme the article refers to? 
The scheme referred to in the article aims to prepare students in disadvantaged areas to succeed by focusing on their character traits instead of exams.

2. What are the ingredients in the list of Beford Academy? 
Bedford Academy lists seven essential character traits to be developed: grit; zest; optimism; social intelligence; gratitude; curiosity; self-control.

3. How is evidence of the attributes shown? 
If a teacher sees one of his/her students using one of the attributes, he/she will make note of this in the “passport” that each student is given. Then, students can earn silver, gold or platinum awards for repeated success in displaying one or more attributes. With the award, students receive a certificate.   

4. When could a mark for social intelligence be awarded?               
Social intelligence is defined in the article as being aware of the feelings of others and being able to reason with others. An example of this could be intervening in defense on someone who might have been offended by something someone else has said or arguing with another student in a reasoned way, instead of resorting to anger.

5. How is the scheme linked with employability? 
In the article, the argument is made that certain character traits are extremely important in the workplace and that students displaying these traits will be more likely to be hired and then to succeed in the working world. The certificates that the students can win for their attributes can be shown to potential employers, who would probably prefer a well-rounded student (one who has good personality traits as well as good intellectual skills) to a candidate with good grades but no proven winning characteristics. 

6. What do Kipp schools provide pupils with? 
Kipp schools provide students with a different type of skill set, preparing them academically but also giving them important skills to succeed after they leave school. The schools hope that students with these skills and character traits will have an advantage in the world, even though they may come from very disadvantaged backgrounds.

7. How are teachers reacting to the scheme introduced? 
The teachers seem to be enthusiastic about the scheme. They report that it does not lead to more work for them, and the article also states that students have become more attentive, which should be good for teachers as well.

8. What is pupils’ response?  
From the articles, it seems that the students are reacting positively to the new scheme, becoming more attentive and with a “spark for life”. It also seems that they are looking at their achievement in a different way, thinking of it in terms of their characters instead of in terms of grades.

 

Composition: The programme mentioned in the article takes inspiration from Martin Luther King. One of his comments is: “Intelligence plus character: that is the goal of true education.” Discuss your views on the topic by writing a 300-word essay. 
Martin Luther King, in the aforementioned quote, thought that furthering intelligence should not be the only goal of education, but that a focus on character is also necessary. In my opinion, this is true and is extremely important for the future of school systems, especially in this period of global crisis. 
In the school system of the United States, as one example out of many, almost all of the focus is on exams. Students take standardized tests starting in elementary school and continuing even until after college, and teachers can be fired and schools closed based on students’ test results. This has proven disastrous and the system in the US has been ranked behind school systems in most other so-called developed countries. The continuous changing of teachers and schools has also proved detrimental. It is clear that exams are not enough. 
Also, in the working world, those exams, grades and averages mean very little. Even if a student is hired for his academic capabilities, he will succeed in the job mostly due to his ability to learn the job quickly and well, his enthusiasm, his ability to have inter-personal relations, and many other traits that have little to do with intelligence. Most jobs are not like studying in school and most require specialized knowledge that is learned “on the job”. Students must be taught how to learn and how to be a good learner and worker, instead of simply made to memorize facts and vocabulary words for exams. This is especially true now, during this period of financial crisis, when jobs are scarce and competition is fierce.  
While the programme mentioned in the article might be too dogmatic and might be making of these important traits just another type of exam, one which students will study and imitate for instead of really learn and take to heart, I do think that it is a sign that educators are waking up and realizing that pushing students toward exam perfection without giving them tools to function in the “real world” is not working and that a new approach, one that combines intelligence and character, is needed. 

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