Fishing for Comparisons Fishing for Comparisons

Fishing for Comparisons

Sometimes you just feel it in your waters. A time for a change of direction; a new location. And so, the Upper Fifth English students were invited to transport their literary sensibilities to another world: the Arts Centre. I enjoy doodling and I have always enjoyed the visual side of learning. An image, a splash of colour, some texture to help illuminate ideas further has always appealed. A fair number of students were also compulsive doodlers and had already produced some lovely artwork in an English context. Transforming an Art room into an aquarium seemed like a good idea… at the time.

The task for U5 Literature students was to compare two poems from the AQA Poetry Anthology, a daunting task in their Paper Two GCSE English Literature exam. The first step was to plan the comparative structure of their essay response by mapping out the fish-bones, ensuring stylistic or thematic links between the two poems they had chosen. The next step was to place ‘scales’ over the top, multi-coloured Post-its, which had written on them elements of good answering technique: clear, relevant points to their essay question or linking focus; judicious quotations and terms; thoughtful interpretations and analysis; and links to contextual elements relevant to each poem.

Anyway, paint splodged, lines were carefully drawn, the ink flew, sea-salt was sprinkled, crisps were munched, tunes were played. I thought it could get messy. But students threw themselves into the task, threw themselves into the piscatorial project with collaboration, experimental flair and gusto, threw themselves into the deep end with their icthyological endeavours. Swordfish, butterfly fish, prehistoric monsters of the deep, all had elaborate comparative literary observations and details inscribed upon their bodies. Hopefully, the class had fun with this cross-curricular activity, learning a bit about comparative planning and establishing links between the Anthology poems. Of course, being in the Arts Centre with the help of the wonderful Faculty staff, especially Johannah Egan, was much appreciated. I think it went swimmingly.

Jacob Resuggan
Teacher of English

Independent day and boarding school for boys and girls aged 3 - 18 in Somerset