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A Guide to Teaching Duffy’s Mean Time for ELLA4

Beth Kemp | Tuesday March 29, 2011

Categories: Hot Entries, Poetry, Duffy, Mean Time, AQA A Level, AQA A Level English Language & Literature A, ELLA4

Associated Resources

  • A Guide to Teaching Plath’s Ariel for ELLA4
  • A Guide to Teaching Larkin’s Whitsun Weddings for ELLA4
  • Lang Lit A2 New Coursework Scheme 2011-12.doc
  • Lang Lit A2 Possible Coursework Titles 2011-12.doc

This guide is to support the teaching of Duffy’s Mean Time for ELLA4, together with Plath’s Ariel and Larkin’s Whitsun Weddings.

The unit is called “Comparative Analysis through Independent Study? and is therefore built on an expectation that students will be doing some of the work unsupervised.  To meet that element of the unit, this scheme introduces three poets, for students to choose two from for more detailed study.

Each poet is introduced through class discussion of around eight poems, which is followed by individual further reading, supported by a titles list with suggested poems.

It is possible for students to produce an essay using only class-taught poems, but there is time and space in the scheme for students, especially those who are more able and keen, to explore further and discuss a few possibilities before deciding on a title.

At the consultation stage, students will be able to discuss their ideas together, and to explore the collections more widely, whilst the teacher offers support to individuals with their plans.  This guide, along with the similar guides to Ariel and The Whitsun Weddings, suggests a few further titles suitable for the brighter and/or more committed students, which could be offered at this stage.

Since the selection of these three poets makes certain themes more likely than others, there is no need to prepare all possible themes for each collection in depth, and some poems will not have much to offer students looking to compare with Plath or Larkin.  There is, for example, no real scope for exploring Duffy’s theme of memory in comparison with either Plath or Larkin, and the theme of time (which could link Duffy to Larkin) has been omitted as a suggested title since...

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