Not averse to quizzing Google

29th April 2005 at 01:00
Hilary Moriarty's article (TES, March 25) on the difficulties many young people have understanding the context and allusions of poetry (both contemporary and older) rang many bells. However, I felt that their difficulties can be more than overcome by students' educated and intelligent use of the internet.

As part of its outreach work, Cambridge university's English faculty holds online seminars for A-level students, and we are constantly impressed by the research skills we see.

A group studying Andrew Marvell's poem, "Bermudas", for example, would have puzzled over his description of pineapples, if one bright student had not chipped in that "in the 17th century, they thought that pineapples could fruit only once before dying".

She then explained that she had found the line puzzling, so had used Google to track down an explanation. Another student, looking at Tennyson's line "Now lies the Earth all Dana to the stars" offered a painting of Dana , again found through a search engine, which made the line immediately comprehensible.

A few students have taken this even further, and have begun to use Google to find similar uses of language and imagery in a range of poets and writers across time.

Students today may lack a range of references that poets assume they will understand, but the internet provides them with a powerful research tool at their fingertips, and many students can more than compensate.

If English literature teachers would like their A-level students to take part in the free online seminars described here, they can contact me directly at harriet@caret.cam.ac.ukor look at our website, www.converseenglish.co.uk

Harriet Truscott. The Converse Project Faculty of English Cambridge university 9 West Road, Cambridge

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now