Poetry About School
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Which poem addresses the issues of povery and child abuse?
"Timothy Winters" by Charles Causley
Which poem is based on the memory of losing a brother in road accident?
"Mid-term Break" by Seamus Heaney
Which poem attacks the desire to return to "traditional" values in education?
"Oh, Bring Back Higher Standards" by Peter Dixon
Which poem deals with bullying?
"Tich Miller" by Wendy Cope
Which poem gives a techer's view of his class and the value of teaching?
"The Last Lesson of the Afternoon" by D>H. Lawrence
The following series of cards relate to the poem "Timothy Winters" by Charles Causley.
What difficulties does Timothy Winters face in his life?
- 1) He has a strange appearence "teeth like splinters".
- 2) Bady dressed "His clothes are enought to scare a crow".
- 3) Hungry "licks patterns off hisplate"
- 4) "bloody feet"
- 5) Lives in a bad area "Suez Street"
- 6) No proper bed
- 7)Family of alcoholics
- 8) Neglected "dosed with an aspirin"
The poem begins with a comic description of Timothy's appearence, which line chnges the tone of the poem to a more serious one?
"Timothy Winters has bloody feet"
What is meant by the line "Timothy Winters drinks his cup/ And slowly goes on growing up."?
- 1) Timothy life goes despite not being helped by an adults.
- 2) His problems will carry on and
- 3) He acepts his fate "drinks his cup"
How does society help children like Tmothy Winters?
They don't, not in any practical terms. They offer prayers for "children less fortunate than ourselves" but they change nothing.
The following cards refer to "Mid-term Break" by Seamus Heaney.
Whih words and phrases in the first verse suggest that something is wrong?
- "sick bay"
- "bells knelling"
- "At two o'clock neighbours drove me home."
The first two lines of the second verse end in hyphens, what's the effect of these?
Emphasises the shock of coming home to the reality of his brother's death.
The third verse starts with the line,
"The baby cooed and laughed nd rocked the pram/When I came in...", how does this line change the mood of the poem?
Breaks the tension caused by the grief and provides a symbol of life continuing in the form of the younger sibling. Also a reference to the continuing cycle of life (re-birth)
In verses 4 and 5, which lines convey the emotions of loss and grief?
- "...my mother held my hand"
- "angry tearless sigh"
What are the symbols of re-birth and peace used in verse 6?
What impact does the last line of the poem have on the reader?
- Refers directly to the coffin that reminds us of the death of his borther.
- Stresses the finality of death.
- Heaney refers to the length of the coffin to remind us of how young the brother was when he was killed.
- The shortness of the coffin relects the shortness of the brother's life.
The following cards refer to "Oh, ring Back Higher Standards" by Peter Dixon.
What type of education does the poet appear to favour?
- Traditional "pencil and cane"
- Controlling "Let's put them all in rows..."
- Uses labels
- Creates hierachy and an elite "prefects"
- Groups who respect authority "doff their caps"
Which words and phrases in the first part of the poem are linked with traditional education?
- "honours board"
- "burnished script"
Many of the lines in the poem seem to reamin unfinished, what effect does this have?
Suggests that the poem is being speaking as though someone was pouring out their frustration, it sounds like a rant not a well structured argument.
What type of system does the poet appear to favour?
The poet seems to favour an educational system that divides people into clearly labelled groups, the "prefects" who are the "A's abd B's" and the rest who are defined as "useless".
What effect does the rhyming pattern have on the reader of the poem?
The rhyming pattern creates a light hearted, almost jungle like tone, which cloaks and hides the more serious and sinister messages of the poem.
the following series of question refer to "Tich Miller" by Wendy Cope.
What physical features make Tich Miller different?
- "elastoplast-pink frames"
- "one foot three sizes bigger than the other"
How are the poet and Tich miller bullied and isolated?
Chosen last when teams were picked for games.
How do we know that the poet feels uncomfortable in this situation?
"We avoided one another's eyes"
How does the poet get her own back?
"...sneering at hockey players who couldn't spell."
What details does Wendy Cope use to make the poem sound realistic?
- "wire -mesh fence" typical of playgrounds
- Use of slang "Have Tubby!"
- Use of detail "elastoplast-pink frames"
What impact does the last line of the poem have on the reader?
The last line of the poem makes me feel very sad because Tich is only 12 when she dies. It seems tragic that this happens anyway but seems doubly so has she has a chanve to escape the bullies who have tormented her. Also, a lot of her life has been unhappy because of other people's attitudes towards her.
The next series of cards refer to "The Last Lesson of the Afternoon" by D.H. Lawrence.
How do we know Lawrence is fed up with his class?
The opening line clearly shows is attitude "When will the bell ring and end this weariness?"
Why does he refer to his class as "unruly hounds"?
- 1) He compares them to a pack of dogs, suggesting they have no individual personality.
- 2) They cannot be disciplined "unruly"
- 3) They are on the hunt for prey
How does Lawrence feel about the work they produce?
Lawrence feels critical and disgusted with the work his class produce he uses words such as "scrawl" and "slovenly" to imply that the work is done without thought and pride. He also considers the work an "insult" to him.
How does he feel about the value of what he does as a teacher?
Lawrence feels that he is wasting his time and those of the students as a teacher. He considers the effort he puts into his work "waste my soul" and leads to nothing as everything he attempts to teach ends up in an "abyss".
He also feels that what he teaches is not relevant "What does it matter to me if they can write/ A description of a dog?"
What words would you use to describe the tone at the beginning and the end of the poem?
Resigned "I will sit and wait for the bell"
Overall, what type of viw do these poems give of school days?
All the poems provide a negative view of the poets' school days, none of them seem particularly happy, positive or memorble in ay way apart from providing memories of pain.
They also question the value of education and suggest that schools can damage yopung people emotionally. Poems such as "Timothy Winters" and "Tich Miller" convey the silent misery some children face at school. D.H. Lawrence's poem suggest that some teachers think that wht they teach has little value to both teachers and students.
What would you like to do?
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