Throughout this essay I will be comparing the two poems “Dear Mr Lee” and “Reports” and discussing how the poet Ursula A Fanthorpe presents school. Both poets present the topic of school, however they differ in perspective. From the titles alone we can decipher that “Dear Mr Lee” is a letter and “Reports” is about reports. Throughout this poem the child goes on about her love for the book ‘Dear Mr. Lee’ by U A Fanthorpe. The poem “Dear Mr Lee” uses a letter to explore the perspective of a student. The letter involves the student giving their opinion on school to present school in a negative manner mainly attacking a teacher.
The student is writing a letter to Mr Lee during their English exam. The student wrote the letter because they didn’t want to answer questions about a book called “Cider”. Mr Lee is the author of the book Cider. The reason for this is because “I didn’t want to write a character sketch of your mother under headings, it seemed wrong somehow… ” In “Reports the poet uses the perspective of the teachers. In this poem the author gives us the perspective of an experienced teacher who seems to be dictating to a new and inexperienced teacher about how to write reports. In the poem Dear Mr Lee we hear a student speaking directly.
The student seems to be 15 or 16 years old. The student has either taken their English exams or is taking her English exams. Indirectly we can hear the students English Teacher who is called “Mr Smart” (this name seems to be ironic or a nickname. ) The poet seems to be suggesting the relationship between the teacher and student as being distant. Mr Smart criticises the student and imposes sarcasm towards the student. “Mr Smart says for anyone with my punctuation to consider poetry as a career is enough to make the angels weep. ” The first line that mentions Mr Smart is criticism made towards the student.
Mr Smart has no respect for the student and also the student has a lack of respect for the teacher. “Mr Smart is roughly my least favourite person. ” The student does not say, “I hate Mr Smart ” but gives an honest opinion about the teacher. The student may dislike him but the student may still have respect for that teacher. What I am trying to imply is that it is not clear what the student is saying. However you may argue that it is clear what the student is implying then again the teacher has no respect for the student as the teacher does not bestow encouragement towards the student but inflicts discouragement, sarcasm and criticism.
In this poem the poet implies that teacher (Mr Smart) thinks the only thing that is important in English is Shakespeare and anthology. As well as understanding jokes made by Shakespeare and the ability to write terse and cogent answers. However this poem implies that students find the above reasons boring and English hard. The teacher believes that he is the most important person and students have no power. The poet implies that the only thing important in English to the student is reading the book called Cider and the author.
The student does not want to study Shakespeare because they do not enjoy reading his books or Anthology by P. Larkin or T. Hughes. “And as for Shakespeare (we’re doing him too) I think he is a national disaster. ” The student thinks that you should not study a book in a certain way. This is why the student refuses to answer questions about the book Cider provided by the examiners. The student then goes off to write this letter. The poet suggests that exams only want terse and cogent answers. Students who fail exams of subjects they dislike may still have talent.
The poet suggests that getting pleasure out of Literature is what is important in English. To try to get an emotional feeling of books you read. You should not study Shakespeare if you do not like his plays. Teachers are not understanding, not very helpful and degrade students. The teacher only values the syllabus. By this poem it suggests that students should be “Seen but not heard” or they should “Put up and shut up”. They should get to work and learn how to do terse and cogent answers. This is the role of the pupil. The poem implies that reading Shakespeare to pass exams is what is important in education.
One interpretation of this poem is that the ideas suggested in this poem are realistically true and that teachers are discouraging, sarcastic and inflicts criticism to students. The poet is being cynical and is showing teachers in bad light. This poem maybe an experience from Ursula A Fanthorpe in which schools may have been run differently from schools today. For now let’s say its not then we can appreciate her choice of books where she included the book “Cider with Rosie”. This was a cleverly chosen book as in the book Laurie Lee talks about “class struggle”.
Ursula then gives us the reaction of the Teacher Mr Smart which he says “Mr Smart says that you view of the class struggle is nai?? ve”. I think that was cleverly planned to put across her view that concurs with the author Laurie Lee opinion. This interpretation presents school in a negative way, attacking the syllabus and teachers. . I think this perspective is an uninformed one. Another interpretation is although Dear Mr. Lee has a positive tone in spite of criticism of the teachings and examining of English. It’s showing that students can still enjoy a subject even if the teacher uses discouraging methods of teaching the student.