Hunting Snarks in Harrow

This summer my school celebrates 140 years in existence ( JLS 140 ). We are looking for something to work on with Years 7&8 to reflect this. Sadly 1876 seems quite a quiet year for Literature, but it does have the publication of The Hunting of the Snark and I think this might be productive.

  • First published in Easter 1876, Lewis Carroll’s Hunting of the Snark is a classic piece of Victorian nonsense poetry. It is easy to imagine the new boys at The John Lyon School being in receipt of this book as a present and learning to recite the verse among their friends. There meaning of the poem is obscure – if it has one at all!  Certainly the original group of travellers are left in little doubt that the “Snark IS a boojum, you see”.  The suggestion is that the object of our desire is somehow a deceit – a fantasy which will cause the finder to disappear entirely – perhaps to lose their individuality in the faceless world of a wider society.
  • Today, in our anniversary year, we are revisiting this text in Years 7&8 and electing to find our JLS Snark in 2016. A Snark is some form of scholarly success – certainly not solely academic – that might be the boojum- a one-trick pony who offers little to society than an obsession with personal achievement ion a narrow academic context.  Our Snarks seek a wide range of skills and activities and learn that failure is only deferred success and that risk-taking in the name of progress is vital to the development not just of young minds, but of all humanity.”


This work in progress post looks at how I might deliver a short document in which the boys of years 7 & 8 consider their arrival at and path through secondary school as their own Snark hunt.

Quite what a Snark is, I a not yet sure – some form of quantifiable success/maturity, I imagine that becomes a Boojum if it is not rounded and leavened with a good mixture of all that a good school can offer in terms of Art, Music, Sport, Drama in addition to academic progression…

Hopefully each form will produce 1 “FIT” along these lines:FIT 1: Y7 The form gathers. In which forms create 4 line verse pictures of themselves and their Bellman – the form tutor or English Teacher.
FIT 2: Y7 The Bellman’s speech. In which the form write a short poem in 4 line ballad form to reflect the information and exhortations given by their Bellman. Must engage with what a Snark might be and Bellman’s rule of 3
FIT 3: Y7 The hunting (1) Ballad form recount of the main events of term 1 in the new school… – aspects of life: music, sport, art, drama and academic life… possibly playing with the idea that their Snark is a boojum unless it engages with a range of areas…
FIT 4: Y7 Hunting (2) Developing the idea of new skills and new experiences: Hockey? Cricket?
FIT 5: Y8 Have we found it? Looks back into y7 and considers whether it has been found
FIT 6: Y8 Is our Snark a Boojum? If so why – (it should be, at this stage…)
FIT 7: Y8 The vanishing and the determination to keep looking – what is needed in y9,10, 11 and so forth to develop boys as Snarks?

My first ideas can be found here:

snark teaching idea

Any help will be very gladly received!