The mourning after

21st September 2001 at 01:00
On the morning after the attacks in the United States my first lesson was with a Year 11 GCSE English group who have been studying Ted Hughes. I wasn't in the mood to simply continue this study. I struggled to begin, wondering if discussing the attacks would add to pupils' anxieties.

But they also needed to talk. Teenagers are not the best listeners, but they did listen to each other with courtesy and a recognition that here was the exchange of shared fear and awe.

On Friday, I returned to studying Ted Hughes' "Hawk Roosting" with the group. They picked up praise of the hawk's perfection and the championing of the animal's brutal will. One boy pointed out that the hawk didn't care about the consequences. Then we were reminded that this is what makes us human, we do care about life and care about the consequences of killing. That is why we could not comprehend the murder of thousands of innocent people.

Mike Ferguson Head of English Clyst Vale community college Broadclyst Exeter, Devon

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