Why Even Poetry? Why We Teach and Study Poetry

It’s Friday. 2:55. The sky a granite-grey as the heft of the clouds seem to throw themselves into your classroom. You’ve just spent 45 minutes teaching, exploring, discussing a poem. In fact, not just any poem, but a great poem. A beautiful poem. Heaney’s ‘Blackberry-Picking’. Mid-sentence you notice a hand shoot up from the corner... Continue Reading →

Making Retrieval English-y: Retrieval and the Poetic Cento

We often think very carefully about what material we want students to retrieve, but of equal importance is how they retrieve it. As with much of teaching, this ‘how’ is probably best filtered through the lens of subject specificity, triangulated of course with the underpinning science of how we learn. Yet, the mechanism by which... Continue Reading →

The Literary Hinterland: A Lesson I Love…

Each year I'm fortunate enough to be able to offer my Y10 students a short enrichment course that lasts 6 weeks and which I title, after Bob Eaglestone's superb book, Doing English. The aim of this enrichment course is to get the students thinking much more conceptually about literature and its study, asking questions such... Continue Reading →

Learning with In Our Time

I recently listened to a superb episode of the BBC's In Our Time, which discussed the American poet Emily Dickinson. I was struck, as I often am when listening to the show, by the richness of its discussion and the rigour and precision with which the guests explored the various topics. For those who may... Continue Reading →

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