Affecting the disaffected…

Well, we have all experienced them. The disaffected; the silent truants. Those students who do barely enough for you to grade, let alone prove that you have enabled them to make rapid progress. This week I taught 9s2, I will leave the ability to your imagination. We are studying War Poetry; it seemed apt. I didn’t tell the class the topic for the first lesson, mainly because I was worried that if I said ‘right class, we’re starting poetry’ they would groan and switch off quicker than my kettle. I started with the Eminem Rap based on the song ‘Toy Soldiers’ originally by Martika. We discussed war and conflict. They knew more about the Rap war than I ever thought existed!

I tentatively introduced the class to Wilfred Owens and ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ they immediately understood the concepts. The imagery in the war poems is so graphic that they grasped it and could explain why it was there. When we did ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ they were able to spot the visual techniques and comment on the ideas behind it. I was amazed. There was none of the scoffing and there was more active engagement than I have had in the last couple of lessons.

I like to reflect on my lessons and practice. I am learning that with this particular group I need to ground everything we do in the events of the time. They are realists. They have imaginations but they stem from real events. They are able to discuss, but they need realistic situations. If I try to read Fantasy with them, I’d probably struggle. War Poetry has tapped into an understanding of reality, and even though it was 100 years ago, my students have displayed an empathy that I didn’t think they could demonstrate. They have been able to tap into their emotions about family and the desire some of the boys harbour to become soldiers.

I need to look carefully at my next schemes to decide the ‘hook’ for the next schemes…just trying to keep it real.



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I have been teaching English for 20 years. HOD. T and L. Runner.

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