In ‘Reports’ an old experienced teacher is giving advice to a new inexperienced teacher. In this poem Fanthorpe presents the relationship between the teacher and student. Giving the advice the speaker uses manipulative statements to commandeer this new teacher in writing reports as the teacher does. Fanthorpe implies that some teachers try to make the reports that they give to the students as vague and impersonal as possible. Essentially the reports they give could apply to any student.
“Even pronouns are dangerous” This refers to how teachers do not even address the students by ‘he’ or ‘she’, but just use phrases like “must try harder”. They cannot write anything that will allow any discussion or cause any reaction from the parents or head teacher. “Parent, child, head, Unholy trinity, will read Your scripture backwards. ” This could make the teacher a target for blame for the child’s behaviour, “Unmanageable oaf cuts both ways. Finds the subject difficult, Acquitting you, converts Oaf into idiot, usher in to master.
” By choosing his words carefully the teacher thus absolves himself from any responsibility. Although the poem is about the relationship between teacher and pupil, it can be seen to relate to school as a metaphor for life. “Born at Sound beginning, We move from Satisfactory To Fair, then Find The subject difficult, Learning at last we Could have done better. ” It is saying that we spend all our life endeavouring to live as best we can, when ultimately, as in school we will end up disappointed. “With rest in peace”. U. A.
Fanthorpe indulges in word-play at various points, as in the apparent truism “Satisfactory/should satisfy them”. It is not really a clichi?? , since it does not mean that something which is satisfactory should satisfy but that parents should be satisfied to read that their child has been judged satisfactory, so the parents should be satisfied with the report, because the report writer is satisfied with their child. But at no point do we learn what it is that has satisfied the teacher, nor what might be a standard for being “satisfactory”.
When reading ‘Reports’ we find the tone of the poem is negative because it indicates how some teachers judge students. We find out that the teacher is a bitter man, who may’ve become lazy from years of teaching, and is trying to pass on his distress to a new and hopeful teacher. However ‘Dear Mr. Lee’ has a positive tone in spite of criticism of the teaching and examining of English. It shows that students can still enjoy a subject even if the teacher uses discouraging methods of teaching the student.
In spite of this I propose that reports has a more positive outcome as “Dear Mr Lee ends with the student failing their exam and “Reports” ends with the new hopeful teacher arguing how that the other teachers conduct towards reports is wrong. Also Dear Mr Lee is bias in the fact that it only gives one direct perspective. Any other perspective is based on speculation and implication. We are only given the perspective of the student, which in fact, the student’s statements could be considered preconceived notions, as we are given no feedback from any other perspective.
However Reports has a more positive outcome and has two perspectives “Remember you high calling” Teaching is one of the highest professions. Generally “Reports” has a more negative tone throughout the poem however the sixth stanza makes up for that as the second speaker disbelieves the first speaker’s conduct towards writing reports. In effect this give me the impression that the first teacher is one of few, that not all teachers follow her choice of conduct.