Wordsworth’s ‘We Are Seven’: Reflections on the Secondary English Classroom

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English teachers select texts for the edifying qualities they possess: a good poem, novel or film can act both as a window looking out over different lives and as a powerful mirror for reflection. When teachers reflect on their professional practice, however, they generally look to education theory, to research or to action learning strategies. But if great works of literature strengthen a student’s empathetic, critical and reflective capacities, they can do the same for the English teachers who prescribe them. The article does not advocate for a rejection of pedagogical expertise in favour of pure literary criticism, but it does consider that these two aspects of English teaching can be brought together for the purposes of professional reflection and development. Using William Wordsworth’s lyric ‘We Are Seven’ as an example, it aims to illustrate how a close reading of the poem leads naturally and effectively from an analysis of content to more general considerations of why and how we teach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-88
Number of pages12
JournalChanging English: Studies in Culture and Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2019


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