Monday, October 3, 2011

Mrs Tilschers Class by Carol Ann Duffey-A summary

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Mrs Tilschers Class-A summary


Subject matter


• The poet is remembering a year in primary school when she was in the class of a teacher called Mrs Tilscher.


• She remembers a particular lesson (Geography) and a typical breaktime.


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• She preferred school to home because of the magic of enthralling books, sugar paper and coloured shapes which helped her to forget her fears of Brady and Hindley (the Moors Murderers who killed a number of children in the 160s).


• She describes details of other lessons and playtimes, especially one day when a rough boy told her the facts of life.


• At the end of the school year, when asked about how you were born, Mrs Tilscher didnt let on, but there is a sense of growing excitement with the coming thunderstorm


Language


Re-read the poem and examine the language carefully. What effects is the poet hoping to produce?


• She includes details to set the scene and help us imagine the classroom - chalky Pyramids (on the blackboard) / A window opened with a long pole.


• She uses similes and metaphors. Find some examples in the poem and explain why they are effective. Here are some ideas


• The classroom glowed like a sweet shop. This emphasises how special the classroom was to a child, since a sweet shop is a place full of treats and surprises for children.


• Brady and Hindley faded, like...a mistake. She uses a typical classroom image of rubbing out a mistake in your work to show how Mrs Tilscher helped the children erase their fears.


• Inky tadpoles. This description is very visual and helps us see the blots and dashes as the children learnt to use ink pens.


• The poet appeals to our senses to help us experience the classroom more fully


• There are vivid descriptions, as if the poets memory is like a photograph, so we can see the childrens fingers travelling up the Blue Nile.


• There are many sounds mentioned, so we can hear the classroom as well as see it. Mrs Tilscher chanted.The laugh of a bell.A xylophones nonsense


• We can also smell the classroom air - The scent of a pencil...- and almost taste the electricity of the end of term and feeluntidy, hot, fractious


Sound


The poet seems to be confiding in us and talks to us directly, so the poem sounds a bit like the patterns of everyday speech. The length of sentences is very varied. Look at some examples of one or two word statements Ethiopia. Khartoum. Coloured shapes. Compare them to longer sentences Three frogs / hopped in the playground... Can you explain this contrast?


Form


The first two stanzas are very innocent, the laugh of a bell swung by a running child, while the third and fourth are about gaining experience - the inky tadpoles changed...the heavy, sexy sky. Why do you think that the first two are made up of eight lines each and the third and fourth are made up of seven lines each? Do the shorter stanzas add slight tension?


Each stanza moves us through the school year, so the poem ends at the end of the summer term.


Ideas and attitudes


Now that you have read the poem carefully, consider what the poet wanted us to appreciate about her being in Mrs Tilschers class. Here are some ideas


• She obviously felt very safe and secure and happy in Mrs Tilschers class.


• She emphasises how Mrs Tilscher was ordered and organised.


• She values the things that Mrs Tilscher taught her (about the Blue Nile and commas and exclamation marks).


• She also values the things that she learnt during that year but were not specifically taught - she grew up a lot in that year.


Tone


What do you think are the poets feelings for her teacher and that year of her school life?


• She speaks very affectionately of Mrs Tilscher, emphasising all the personal touches that made her special - shed left a good gold star by your name.


• She also loved the special atmosphere in Mrs Tilschers classroom.


• She is grateful for all that she learnt and discovered.


• She generates excitement as she remembers the start of her adolescence.





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