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My lively, but not particularly academically inclined Year 8s appeared rapt and enthusiastic when I enlivened our study of Anne Frank's diary with first-hand information. My student son had visited her house in Amsterdam the previous weekend and had described how he felt the impressive weight of history.

"He told me it was really 'atmospheric'. Now what could that mean? I asked the class."

With no pause for thought a voice from the back of the room replied: "It means his Mum's an English teacher."

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