The Good Teachers - Sample Essay

Both ‘The Good Teachers’ by Lochhead and ‘Lanarkshire Girls’ by Duffy deal with the theme of adolescent experiences by depicting their own in a recall fashion. Both speakers are now adults reflecting back upon their individual adolescent experiences with the speaker in ‘The Good Teachers’ reminiscing about her days at school while looking at an old school photo, and the speaker in ‘Lanarkshire Girls’ depicting the first time her and her friends took the bus from their rural Lanarkshire homes into the city of Glasgow.

Both poems are told in a conversational, anecdotal style which is made evident through the use of various structural and language techniques. ‘Lanarkshire Girls’ is written in free verse which aids the free flowing chatty style of the piece, however, is still sectioned into three stanzas; the first talking of the bus leaving the countryside, the second speaking of the approach to the city, and the third describing the sights of the city.

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Similarly, ‘The Good Teachers’ makes use of a tight but simple structure of four sestets to mirror that structure of school, but also employs enjambment to assist in the anecdotal style as it represents the speaker’s meandering memories. Lochhead also makes use of enjambment for the same reason but furthers its use by using it to demonstrate the speaker’s awe in the second stanza as she observes the views out of her window as she approaches the city. The use of enjambment emphasises the juxtaposition between the sparse rural sights of the girls’ Lanarkshire homes and how they are trying to take in all of those which are surrounding them as they approach the city.

Duffy opens her poem with a comical statement, ‘You run round the back to be in it again’, this refers to how as a child, the speaker took advantage of the technology to appear in the school photograph twice. This shows the speaker as a mischievous child who wished to rebel against the ‘virtuous women’ who would ‘size you up’. In a further act of rebellion, as an adult, the speaker breathed on the glass, ‘making a ghost of her’ history teacher; blurring her in attempt to seize control over her, making her as insignificant as perhaps her teacher made her feel as a student.

Lochhead however, refrains from the use of humour as the speaker voices her adolescent experience in a matter of fact style, in order to assert her new found maturity and prove how she is now growing up from the opening statement, ‘Coming into Glasgow/ in our red bus through those green fields.’ Although, despite this the speaker still shows a childish immaturity through her excitement of her adolescent experience, travelling in the red bus for the first time into the city with her friends as she uses the cliché, ‘fourteen years old, dreaming ourselves up, with holiday money burning a hole in our pockets.’

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