Tuesday, 21 June 2011

War Poetry and the Blogs

George Simmers reports here the appeal by the Rupert Brooke society to raise enough money to buy a painting by Brooke's inamorata (well, one of them), Phyllis Gardner (far left). And, here, George picks up on my blogpost denouncing the AQA GCSE syllabus , this time to point out that its prose is as bad as its poetry: 'The AQA policy seems to be that teenagers should be protected from difficult, troubling literature.' We can't have impressionable minds subjected to Kipling's sadistic masterpiece, 'Mary Postgate'.

Gists and Piths I discovered relatively recently. Here it is on Bernard Bergonzi and war poetry, here on books by Nicholas Murray and Harry Ricketts, here on Daniel Swift's Bomber County, here on Ted Hughes's 'Griefs for Dead Soldiers', and here on 'the trouble with war poetry'.


  1. Nice of George Simmers to claim that teachers don't want to do any preparation though. What a load of rubbish. Come on... let's not allow such lazy thinking to go unchallenged.

  2. He says that teachers don't want to do 'too much new preparation'. That sounds reasonable. Do you disagree?

  3. I think it's the tone of the comment - references to keeping teachers sweet and the implication that teachers are resistant to new texts because it means extra work. I, for one, am disappointed by the lack of change on the new GCSE syllabuses; it was the perfect opportunity to wave farewell to texts like 'Of Mice and Men' and 'An Inspector Calls' but they're still there. I'd rather have some work to do to prepare something new than be bored by the teaching of the same thing year after year.

    Maybe slightly over-sensitive to 'teacher-bashing' at the moment though. Apologies if my original comment offended...

  4. Actually, I don't really think it's laziness on the part of teachers that makes many of them want to stick to the same texts for years. They want to do what's best for the students, and they know that Lord of the Flies or Of Mice and Men can be taught efficiently, so that most students will do well in the exam. Whereas a new text might not go down well with classes, or might prove difficult to teach.
    More important than the conservatism of some teachers, though, is the tyranny of the stock cupboard. If you've got two hundred copies of An Inspector Calls in there, you're going to choose that for your students rather than invest a lot of money on an unfamiliar text which might not go down as well with classes. This, I think, is one of the factors that has kept Up the Line to Death on syllabuses for forty years, despite the appearance of better WW1 anthologies.