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By | Feb. 2013
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“In Mrs Tilscher’s Class by Carol Ann Duffy”

Task: Write about a memorable poem that portrays growing up and change. Show how the poet recreates the childhood experience and shows the children’s growing independence.

Carol Ann Duffy’s memorable “In Mrs Tilscher’s Class” deals with the themes of growing up and change. Set in the eponymous teacher’s classroom the narrator starts by describing a joy and delight in learning which changes into disillusionment and confusion in the last two stanzas. As the subject matter is a universal experience, Duffy’s narrator successfully draws the reader into the poem and made me reflect on my education and life.

The free verse poem is written in the persona of a young adolescent girl who uses the second person “you” to write about the experience and her memories of primary school. The title emphases Mrs Tilscher’s control and influence but this poem is also increasingly about what happens out of the classroom in the real world with all its difficulties. The poem starts with Mrs Tilscher taking her pupils on a journey: “You could travel up the Blue Nile/ with your finger tracing the route/ while Mrs Tilscher chanted the scenery.” This symbolises the learning journey/curve the children are on – Mrs Tilscher guiding them to exotic far away places that they may never actually visit but only be able to see in their imagination. The narrator initially loves the bright classroom with all its opportunities. She loves that Mrs Tilscher leaves “a good gold star by your name”. This made me think about how people change: little infants love school but when they become adolescents they just want to finish school.

The way Carol Ann Duffy has brought all the senses “sight, touch, taste, smell and hearing for example “the sent of a pencil slowly getting shared or the laugh of a bell swing by a running child” the way it contrasts with the metaphor, similes, personification, alliteration and onomatopoeia to tie in joyful, and funny...

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