To feel very uncomfortable with this lesson plan?

(28 Posts)
DrSeuss Tue 10-May-16 19:24:11

A friend has to teach a Y9 bottom set the poem "Havisham", which is about the Dickens character of the same name. She is getting nowhere fast as they have no interest in poetry and struggle with the concepts.
A senior member of staff suggested that she have them draw a "Crazy Woman", then use a thesaurus to find synonyms for crazy. I said that I found that totally inappropriate. I have previously been treated for MH issues, along with a number of friends, family, colleagues and, if the stats are to believed, 25% of the population. I see no value in this exercise, even if, as instructed, it links back to the treatment of the mentally ill in Victorian Britain and Dickens' attempts to encourage reform.
Thankfully, I don't have to do the lesson but I would hate either of my sons to be asked to do this.

bubblegurl252 Tue 10-May-16 20:17:55

That's simply placing a stigma on mental illness isn't it? I wouldn't want my children doing that either

TheOnlyLivingBoyInNewCross Tue 10-May-16 20:29:40

I can't see how it would help the students understand the poem anyway confused

nonline Tue 10-May-16 20:57:44

A lesson about a poem which doesn't appear to involve reading the poem?

AuntJane Tue 10-May-16 21:15:17

Personally, I don't think much of that approach.

Having read the poem, I would get them to focus on the colours - green, yellow, puce, white, red. What imagery and emotions do these colours conjure? Then they can discuss jealousy, betrayal, anger, longing, hatred, obsession, etc., - not "crazy".

Winterbiscuit Tue 10-May-16 21:18:36

YANBU. School lessons shouldn't be disablist!

Princesspeach1980 Tue 10-May-16 21:24:53

Awful, there will possibly be children in the class who live with parents with mental health issues and this could be so hurtful to them. Just builds on negative stereotypes.

Liska Tue 10-May-16 21:32:11

Wow. Sounds seriously out of touch with decency and current attitudes to MH issues - to the point of teaching the pupils the opposite of what I'd expect from school. YANBU and someone should probably have a gentle word with the senior staff member.

echt Tue 10-May-16 21:41:06

Can't see any point in not dealing with the poem.

A though I'm agog at how the teacher will deal with stanza three whereMiss Havisham imagines biting her lover's cock.

TealLove Tue 10-May-16 21:42:49

That's horrible

HarrietSchulenberg Tue 10-May-16 21:47:31

echt I have been with a bottom set Y9 class who found the cock biting to be the part that got them to sit up and take notice. After they twigged what was going on they threw themselves into the poem with gusto.

redexpat Tue 10-May-16 21:51:17

You could turn it round and look at how language develops. How we label different groups and how it affects their treatment by wider society.

echt Tue 10-May-16 21:53:49

Good point, Harriet.

YoureAllABunchOfBastards Tue 10-May-16 21:56:04

Was going to say I would start with the cock biting...

SilverBirchWithout Tue 10-May-16 21:56:22

I think drawing something using the colours mentioned in the poem could be helpful for their learning. But certainly not a 'crazy' lady.

katemiddletonsnudeheels Tue 10-May-16 21:59:05

A couple of years ago there was a controlled assessment question about how a writer conveyed a disturbed character. My class were studying Heathcliff and Hamlet.

We did brainstorm how 'disturbed' might manifest itself and then looked for evidence in the texts (suicidal thoughts, evidence of violence, lack of attention to self care)

I didn't think that was inappropriate. I don't think this is either, although I would substitute 'crazy' for 'mentally ill'.

acasualobserver Tue 10-May-16 21:59:50

'Havisham' anticipates the concerns Duffy goes on to explore in The World's Wife. With that in mind, this lesson plan reveals a woeful lack of subject knowledge. The person who devised it has simply missed the point.

katemiddletonsnudeheels Tue 10-May-16 22:01:37

Most schools wouldn't go on to study the concerns in a wider sense, though, casual.

It's just because it used to be on the anthology so now it will be in every Y9 curriculum, as will the study of OMAM wink

DoreenLethal Tue 10-May-16 22:02:18

A senior member of staff suggested that she have them draw a "Crazy Woman", then use a thesaurus to find synonyms for crazy.

That's not a lesson plan is it? It's just something someone suggested.

echt Tue 10-May-16 22:10:58

Havisham' anticipates the concerns Duffy goes on to explore in The World's Wife. With that in mind, this lesson plan reveals a woeful lack of subject knowledge. The person who devised it has simply missed the point.

I'm about to teach some of Duffy's poetry to Year 13 students and have toyed with "The World's Wife" but balked at the background knowledge need to make sense of the poems.

Agree completely that the "mad woman" approach is unhelpful and really misses the point of Dickens' character.

And as for using a thesaurus. God help me. Word lists divorced from context mean sod all and are the cause of much randomly-applied vocabulary by students who think that more unusual words means better.

TheGhostOfBarryFairbrother Tue 10-May-16 22:12:12

That makes me a crazy woman too. I quite fancy having a portrait done if I send you a photo?!

YADNBU

Curioushorse Tue 10-May-16 22:14:42

Hmmm. If they're VERY bottom set, that might not be as poor an idea as it sounds initially. That's actually quite a complex poem for Year 9, and weak students would really struggle. I can see that the drawing aspect would help them to visualise it (and put them in a better mood as, despite being faced with something challenging they'd managed to achieve something). There are two other useful and achievable tasks: synonyms and dictionary work. Both of these would also be the sort of tasks you'd want to do to help weak students build their confidence and understanding with literature.

(but, yeah, I'd go down a completely different route)

Are you an English teacher, OP? Because you'll not escape teaching about literature containing themes of mental illness. I've taught Jekyll and Hyde, The Awakening and The Yellow Wallpaper this week alone- and it's only Tuesday.

acasualobserver Tue 10-May-16 22:15:17

Most schools wouldn't go on to study the concerns in a wider sense, though, casual.

Fair enough, but the person setting this lesson or teaching the poem should be familiar with the body of work from which the poem comes. This lesson plan, in my opinion, suggests the opposite.

echt Tue 10-May-16 22:18:25

* I've taught Jekyll and Hyde, The Awakening and The Yellow Wallpaper this week alone- and it's only Tuesday.* grin

Last year a pupil commented: Why is there at least one death in every book we read, Miss? He wasn't wrong.

Happiness writes white was the response.

What?! The opening line of that poem is "Beloved sweetheart bastard. Not a day since then I haven't wished you dead". That's the kind of thing year 9 love. A teacher swearing! Oxymorons. Working out why she wants him dead...

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