Art -a minor subject or a vital part of the teaching of Poetry?

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I am working on a module which introduces writing of diverse ages and styles to Year 9, partly as enrichment and partly to begin the process of unseen response. The PDFs attached are images drawn/created by some of the students – Ekum, Avleen, Preet, Sylvia and Aman. Please open them and enjoy the work – it deserves to be enjoyed.

In all cases, the students have been told to respond to a central image or idea underlying Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 – “Let me not to the marriage of true minds/ admit impediment.”

The task is not the art itself – lovely though it is, but in what follows. Based on my experience of teaching IBDP Independent Oral Presentations, I am excited by the idea that students who explain the genesis of their artwork also, by definition, show deep understanding of the metaphor/image that they are discussing, which might not always be present when they are told simply to comment on the language choice in front of colleagues.

It is important that the students understand that this is a two part process- the art and the explanation and that they are kept engaged with then need to be able to show how their ideas originated in the text.

A good example here is Avleen’s work – the alphabet sheet. I didn’t “get it” at first. She explained to the class and the understanding of Shakespeare’s poem became so obvious.

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I and U are a couple, ring fenced and protected by love. The other letters represent temptation or distraction -“alteration”, ” “remover” or “impediment”. No matter how lovely the other letters are, they will never overthrow the marriage of true minds that “I have with U.”. Simple? Maybe. Effective and memorable? YES!

Please enjoy these pictures and by all means use them as stimuli – just give credit to Year 9 (!) at Upton Court Grammar School.

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