Q.- Read the article ‘The Teenage Challenge’ and comment on:-
* The content of the article. (message)
* The language features.
* The design features.
* Any other aspect you think is relevant.
The article ‘The Teenage Challenge’ was published in The Daily Mail, Friday, December 27, 2002. It is divided into two parts/sections, the first section written by Sarah Harris, Education correspondent; and the second by Edward Enfield (Father of Harry…).
> The content of the article.
The article ‘The Teenage Challenge’ is divided into two sections and is written in response to Charles Clarke’s (education secretary) ideas of introducing the 18 ‘Basic skills’. The first section by Sarah Harris projects both the positive and negative view points, supported by comments from various personalities.
Edward Enfield, in the second section is deadly against the education secretary’s views and is rather sarcastic in his comments but rarely supported by authoritative opinions.
> The language features
The title ‘The Teenage Challenge’ consists of three words which perfectly suit the conventions about the title. The sub-heading of the first half seems like a continuation as it begins with ‘OR’. The subheading of the second half looks like a sentence rather than a title. The by-line is given in both the sections. In the case of the first section, the designation of the writer (Education Correspondent) Sarah Harris is given, while in the second the Edward Enfield is just identified as a father of Harry, who created Kevin the Teenager.
The beginning of the first half is capitalized ‘ANYONE’ which catches the reader’s attention. This also provides a generalized viewpoint.
Throughout the article; we can see many examples of alliteration as well as assonance. These serve to stress the ideas put forward by the writer, e.g.: ‘picking up piles’, ‘from their bedroom floor’, ‘top five task’ and ‘this is his business’, ‘traditional parental’ are assonance. The alliteration and assonance used in ‘Parents’ patience’ in the sub-heading of the first half gives it more effect similarly, the alliteration and assonance in the sub-heading of the second half -‘The useful thing would be teaching them how to read’.
The paragraphs are kept relatively short, that sometimes a single sentence takes us the whole paragraph, so we can say sentences used mainly are complex and in some cases compound. E.g.: ‘Yet, with the experience of two months as Education Secretary, Charles Clarke reckons parents should be requiring them to do a whole lot more’ this is a complex sentence having one main clause ‘Charles Clarke…..more’ and the subordinate clause ‘Yet with the experience……….Secretary’. ‘Of course it maybe that teenagers of today are particularly stupid, but I think they are only stupid at intelligent things like reading books’ is a compound sentence having two independent clauses joined together by the conjunction ‘but’. Most of the paragraphs seems like a continuation of the previous one, beginning with conjunctions, otherwise called paragraph connectives. E.g.: ‘Yet’, ‘like’, ‘And’.
All throughout the article, there are words in a single speech marks/quotes. This gives a suggestion that somebody else’s word not necessarily approved by the writer. E.g.: ‘life skills’, ‘nanny state’, ‘top five’.
When the quotation continues to the next paragraph, the speech marks are not closed but are reopened. ‘As…..without help. ‘we…adult life. ‘I….old’.
To support her viewpoints, Sarah Harris has quoted from different sources. E.g.: ‘Rebecca O’Neil, a researcher’, ‘Conservative Education spokesman oraham Brady’, all their words adds more authority. Edward Enfield, on the other hand has only given his personal opinions, not at all imbibing other’s ideas. The first half of the article henceforth looks more objective, while the second seems subjective. The scientific terminology as well as mathematical terms add weight to this article. E.g.: ‘botulism’, ‘proteins’, ‘imperials’, ‘metric units’.
The positive word used by the economist ‘boom’ ends the article in an affirmative tone.
The quotes are introduced by, e.g.: ‘Conservative education spokesman Graham Brady said’ rather than followed by it as in the case of fiction. The use of statistical or numerical data shows how precise the authors are. E.g.: ‘All by the age of 16.’, ’18 basic activities’, ’15 other things’.
The slang and colloquial language used in the article makes it an informal one and shows the friendly approach of the writers and their effectiveness. E.g. ‘any of this is his business.’, ‘he was flipped’.
The use of hyphen gives a pause to the reader, as well as to show the breakup of ideas. E.g.: ‘As any parent-or indeed any TV viewer familiar with my son’s comic creation-can testify, teenagers are proud to be ‘Kevins’. There are many compound words used especially in the second half, e.g.: ‘not-too-difficult’, ‘over-joyed’, ‘rave-up’. The use of the rhetorical question ‘why on earth…such trivia?’ is meant to give a stress on the basic idea it tries to convey. The 18 basic skills put forward by Charles Clarke is introduced by using -ing form of the word. E.g.: ‘cooking’, ‘working’, ‘cleaning’.
The second half is dominated by the use of the negative words, e.g.: ‘shattered….noise….filthy’. the collective noun ‘horde’ which normal refers to hooligans shows the uncivilized nature of the youngsters.
> The design features:
The entire article is enclosed in a rectangular frame. The title ‘The Teenage Challenge’ is written in bold, big lettering and stands out from the rest of the copy. The sub-heading of the first half is larger than the text but not as striking as the title. It is also underlined. Whereas, the sub-heading of the second half is bolder but not as the title and is not underlined. The by-line in both the halves is written in bold and in the second section, a close-up photograph of the writer is also given.
The picture of the clumsy slouching teenager taken from a close-up, eye-level shot is immediately striking to the reader’s eyes. The teenager covers a rectangular frame which has the title ‘Preparing for life in the real world’ written in white lettering on a black background. Within the rectangular frame, there are three photographs and a note pad. The photographs are given with a caption. The picture of Prince William, a royal example adds authority. The second picture uses the proverb ‘knowledge is power’. These photographs can be considered as a photo-montage taken from a high-level, close-up shot. The notepad is slightly titled and comes out from the frame which shows the power the youngsters will have once they acquire these 18 Basic Skills. These skills are mentioned in the notepad with numbering and on alternate dark and light backgrounds.
> Any other aspect you think is relevant.
This is an article written using the code of written language and still graphic images. This is meant for youngsters, their parents and adults who are mostly involved in teenager’s education. The purpose of this article is to inform us about Charles Clarke’s idea of 18 Basic Skills and persuade the readers to give their opinions and suggestions to it.
The article was effective in conveying the idea of 18 Basic Skills. As a reader, I was able to grasp both the positive and negative viewpoints behind introducing these 18 Basic Skills in school curriculum. According to my opinion, the schools must concentrate more on academics rather than the practical skills. The basic skills can be learned at home but they shouldn’t be made a criteria for judging the teenagers.