The Play Way

As a young teacher Heaney was required to plan and assess lessons and teaching methods; his poem reports on a lesson he devised to encourage creative writing. Some things have not changed: classic sunlight entering in shafts through the window-panes (glass) seeks confirmation (probes each desk) of the sights smells and textures (milk-tops, drinking straws and old dry crusts) of a standard British classroom. In contrast, responding to a progressive Educational initiative of the period, the trainee goes for innovation: using a classical recording (music strides to challenge it) he eschews the ‘chalk-and-talk’ of his own school-days (mixing memory and desire with chalk-dust) and seeks the creative and emotional responses of the pupils themselves. His lesson-plan introduces Beethoven. Initial impertinence […]