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Sunday, 4 May 2014

False Impressions - Workshop Idea (KS2/3)

First off, here's a funny poem from Trevor Parsons, with whom I recently spent a week on a poetry retreat:

Front Of The Class 

I sit at the front of the class
and try to get on with my work.
The back row are mucking about.

Tom’s had a paper dart flown at his head,
it’s caught in his hair
and he doesn’t know it’s stuck there.

He looks like a scoop of ice cream
with one of those horrible fan-shaped biscuits
sticking out the side of it.

I want to laugh out loud
but I suppose I mustn’t.
I always have to do the right thing.

Often, when I shouldn’t, I just want to be silly,
stop being old Serious Drearious,
or Sternly Burnley – and just be me.

I’m back row material, really I am.
I could mess about with the worst of you,
have a laugh, see the silly side of everything.

It’s what I’m like on the inside.
But on the outside it’s just not that easy
when you’re a teacher. 

I very much empathise with this teacher's predicament, which is something I hope to elaborate on in another blog post. For now we can note that this poem, whilst admittedly lighthearted, could be used as a springboard from which to explore some serious issues to do with self-identity and false impressions. As a warm-up, students complete the following sentences:

          Everyone thinks I am...
          But really I am...

Each student should try to aim for a list of such sentences. This list could either form a poem in itself, or a specific dichotomy could be extracted and developed. Other options likewise present themselves. Students could get into groups and complete sentences of the form:

         Everyone thinks we are...
         But really we are...

Thus issues to do with collective youth identity could be explored. There is also ample room for imaginative flights of fancy. Students could write from the point of view of someone who lives a normal life by day but is a superhero by night. As with many of my workshops, I want to allow room for both lightheartedness and the exploration of deep, personal stuff.