Lesson 27 on Pointing out the Obvious
As well as “Remedial” , I usually had to teach an English CSE group. Sometimes the two coincided. An essential part of CSE work was building up a varied portfolio of written work to be assessed (aka writing essays).
I had developed a kind of Dummies Guide to essay writing, which I used over the course of my career at every stage from junior to university level. It worked every time. It was based around giving the group examples of essays and parts of essays(constructed carefully by me), providing the marking criteria, asking them to grade the work and then holding an “Exam Board” to justify the grades given.
By the time we had conferred and arrived at a consensus, the group could pretty well assess and grade their own work.
At Airport Comprehensive I had not expected to come across any great enthusiasm for literature, so I was agreeably surprised when they showed an unusual interest in poetry. Given a choice of reading material they would opt for this every time. I was delighted by their response and eagerly searched out pieces that might appeal, running off multiple copies on the ghastly Banda machine . The group cheerfully encouraged me in all my efforts.
When it came to written work they often requested to compose their own poems. I began to feel that I must at last be getting the hang of teaching, in order to inspire such literary endeavour. For a term and a half they allowed me to continue in this fool’s paradise.
One lesson I was really impressed by some of their work, and was praising particular examples, when I unwisely commented how surprised I had been by their interest in poetry.
“Of course we are Miss. We have been ever since the Juniors”
“But what made you so keen? What’s so good about poetry? Why do you like it so much better than stories?” They looked at me pityingly, before providing the answer in three killer words.
“Poems are shorter.”