The Lives of Animals: Lesson Set 5 (The Author’s Thoughts)

The Author's Thoughts

This activity requires the students to reflect on an interview with the author about the text and how different types of text can be used to present a particular point of view. Reflecting on their own experiences students present a response (either agreeing or disagreeing) with the author.

Time Allocation

Two lessons.

It is assumed that students have read the text prior to this activity. This activity builds on Lesson Set 3 (Fact as Fiction), however it can also be run as a stand-alone activity.


Download the accompanying PowerPoint presentation for this Lesson Set here.

Key Inquiry Questions

  • How can interpretations of a text differ between the audience and the author?
  • What examples can be used to support a particular argument about the purpose of text?

Learning Activities

1. PRE-TEST (Ask)

Begin with a discussion about how an individual might present an opinion or argument to the broader community. Have a class brainstorm about different types of texts that might be used. Examples include non-fiction (e.g. news article, documentary), opinion (e.g. blog) and fiction (e.g. play, fairytale).

2. EXPLORE (Investigate)

Students to read “J.M. Coetzee Interview with Voiceless”. Access the interview here

Students to identify what they think the key argument (or point) the author is making regarding the use of fiction texts to present a factual argument.

Ideas are shared with the class.

3. DISCUSS/SHARE (Create/Discuss)

Highlight question 2 from the interview (project on board): "Language is powerful. How can fiction play a vital role in exploring real world issues? Works of fiction, whether novels or plays or films, have a long and proud history of providing us with avenues by which to explore real-world issues, and specifically the human dimension of real-world issues."

In groups, students discuss what they think about this statement. If required, some structured questions could include:

  • What are the real-world issues in The Lives of Animals?
  • What other examples have students encountered where a fiction text is used to explore reality or to promote a particular perspective?
  • Do students think fiction is more or less persuasive than non-fiction?
  • What is “the human dimension” Coetzee is referring to?

Students to share with the class their thoughts in the form of a mind-map.

4. REFLECT (Reflect)

Students to write a 500-word argument either supporting or refuting the use of fiction texts as a way of exploring real-world issues. They should refer to the text to support their argument.

Voiceless would be delighted to receive any completed student work to feature on the Voiceless website. Please email any work or feedback to [email protected]