The English Teacher - a poem
This poem was sent to us by David Kinder, Head of English at Godalming College, Surrey. It was written by a student of his, Bella Considine, who has just done her A Levels and will be going on to study Film-making at the University of Sussex. We’re sharing it on our blog for two reasons. First, we think it’s an absolutely fantastic poem in its own right – clever, well-crafted and original, with the mature voice of a poet. But we also think it speaks to many current issues about English as a subject, how it is being taught and what makes it special for students. We fear that some initiatives and developments at a national level are endangering this kind of teaching and learning. They risk flattening out the subject and losing its most distinctive and appealing aspects. If one reads the work of academics in the discipline, much of what Bella values about English is valued by them too. Yet in school English, there have been many pressures on teachers to turn English into something much more mundane and less emotionally and intellectually rewarding – driven by examinations, formulae, routines and the imparting of information, rather than the development of thoughts, understandings, ideas and stimulating dialogue. We hope that Bella’s poem supports the work of all those brilliant English teachers who are resisting these pressures and continuing to offer experiences of the subject that feed students minds and spirits in this way.