Past TimesEd

7th March 2003 at 00:00
75 years ago March 4, 1928

Poetry in the classroom

When I first came to teach English to children in a secondary schools in a commercialised cathedral city, they were apprehensive and shy, being unaccustomed to lessons where a certain amount of noise was actually required.

Many of them also were ill-fed at home in body and spirit, and only the second of the three forms was an "A", that is to say, an intelligent form.

So, when I had said a little, a very little, to 3B (where the average aged was 11, and no one knew anything of scansion) on the patterns of strong and weak, of light and shade, that poetry uses; and, with swift recourse to instance, read a stanza, clapping my hands on every strong beat; some of the children looked down at their books in dread, while others glanced at each other with such amusement as once would have humiliated me.

50 years ago March 6, 1953

The London County Council, being well committed to the erection of some 20 comprehensive schools, has now issued a laborious document purporting to show how one of these new academies might work.

Two thousand or so pupils having at some trouble been brought together, the next task proves to be to break the agglomeration down into "communities" of manageable size.

The new boy when he arrives at his school (and this may not be easy: the London County Council perspicuously foresees traffic jams in the approaches and suggests some staggering of school hours) will find himself like a pea in a nest of Chinese boxes.

He will belong to, or rather "have a sense of corporate belonging to", a form, several sets for different subjects, a house, a "tutor set", which is a sub-division of a house, the lower school, and, of course, the school.

25 years ago March 3, 1978

The TES failed to appear due to "unofficial action by the National Graphical Association members in the composing room".

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