TEACHERS’ GUIDE TO www.footballpoets.org
This site won a national award from Kick Racism Out Of Football and it offers tremendous potential for cross-curricular work in History, Citizenship, Sport and English. It is used by many schools and football club study centres and has been recommended by the Guardian the Observer, the Times, the Arts Council and When Saturday Comes.
The site features many poems written by Gloucestershire students in general and Brockworth students in particular. Y8 may be the best target age – but it has potential for use throughout the key stages.
1. Click on www.footballpoets.org and then go to top right of the opening page and click on the black and green logo “Let’s Kick Racism Out Of Football”. The next opening page will have a picture of Arthur Wharton, the first black footballer in this country – more on him in a moment – but you will click on Read The Poems.
2. Here you will find a wide selection of poems from Gloucestershire and Bradford students as well as from adults.
3. If you wish to find out more about Arthur Wharton, then click on the poem by Ralph Hancock, 22nd November; then scroll down to read the footnotes before reading the poem. Then look at A Burning Black Star by Crispin Thomas, 19th October. These 2 poems offer the opportunity for formal poetical analysis and for historical thinking about why Arthur was forgotten. Discussion might widen into reflection on how History’s dependence upon ” evidence” can make it difficult to re-create the history of hidden communities. Students could discuss the validity of whether E.P. Thompson was right in saying that sometimes historians should imaginatively go beyond the surviving evidence. The case study also offers up
Citizenship debate about why there are so few British-Asian players in Football – this can move into wider societal thinking, reflection and analysis.
4. Poems that offer further scope for thinking about Citizenship include 7th November, “Doctor Foster”; 6th November, “Come On England”; 11th November, “Saint George”. These were written by Stuart Butler. “Doctor Foster” might be a good poem to start with – it looks at the number of languages spoken in Gloucester and raises the whole issue of dual and multiple national identities; students might reflect on how all English people have dual nationalities anyway, as Britons; so is further duality such a big deal? Students could also update the poem with further rhyming couplets to ensure all languages now spoken in Gloucester are mentioned.(Gloucestershire has a minimum of 800 EAL (English as an
Additional Language) pupils in schools, with 55 or more languages
represented. The main languages spoken are: Gujarati, Bangla, Urdu, Chinese, and African-Caribbean Creole. Our pupils include approximately 60 refugees and pupils seeking asylum – but this figure is likely to increase in the near future. There are also approximately 500 African-Caribbean, African and Dual Heritage pupils in the county’s schools. Traveller pupils number around
400 at any given time.A wide range of world religions are practised by our pupils: Buddhist, Christian and Orthodox Christian, Hindu, Judaism, Muslim, and Sikh.)
The other 2 poems mentioned above also go into this area of diversity and racism.
5. “Team Universe”, 17th November, by Stuart Butler, is about Professor Terry Roberts. Terry will be visiting us in October 2003 as part of this project on Positive Tolerance.
6. 3 further poems by Stuart are ideal for Black History Month. Please look at “The Journey”, 3rd November; start by looking at the footnotes. This confronts, tangentially, the whole notion of racism. “Cool Britannia” analyses the possible tokenism contained within the whole notion of a “Black History Month”; “Black Britons Here Before The English” will make young people think and also opens up the E. P. Thompson debate mentioned in point 3 above.
7. “Radio Bloke” by Katie McCue, 3rd October, looks at the matter of
racist chanting in a crowd and how sometimes the commentators choose to ignore it – it’s a difficult choice sometimes, perhaps. Or perhaps it isn’t. This matter is upfront at the moment – the chanting in the Stadium of Light, Sunderland, during the England versus Turkey match in March – “I’d rather be a Paki than a Turk” – could be clearly heard by television viewers – class could discuss what commentators and viewers and the F.A. and FIFA should do; there could also be discussion of The Sun’s condemnation of the racists as “Plankton”.
8. Other adult poets worth looking at include Clik the Mouse and Richie Hession. Clik won the competition for anti-racist football writing and splendid posters of his “Let’s Kick Racism Out Of Football and Gloucestershire” are available from Albert Gardiner at Brockworth School.
Also see Sharon Marshall’s work – to view that, you will need to go back to the home page. Sharon writes in a tremendously lyrical way – see, in particular, for this unit of work, “Football Poetry and the National Curriculum” and “England” (6th. April); “I Want To Be A Football Poet” (28th. March). I’m hoping to persuade Sharon to take on workshops down here in Gloucestershire – she does workshops in Liverpool.
9. Having said all this, students might well be more interested in the poems written by fellow students within this section of anti-racist work! Hopefully, they might write their own – that would be one of the intentions of this guide.
On the basis that teachers might well consult with their colleagues in English, we’ll make no proposals here about how you might do that, but if you get stuck with any students in a lesson and you’re not an English specialist, then why not suggest an acrostic poem of ENGLAND, or GREAT BRITAIN or THE UNITED KINGDOM? Students could try to think of words to reflect a diverse, multicultural country.
If you decide that you wish to submit some poems, then please use the submission form on the site. If authors are to be named, then please gain parental/guardian permission. The guest book is checked daily, so if any students leave anything inappropriate, it is quickly removed. Equally, it is impossible for a poem to get past our editorial policy:
“We have to repeat
We have to delete
Things likely to cause some unease;
Be it racial or sexual
Or deemed unacceptable
By the editing football aesthetes.”
As Sharon Marshall, the supremely talented runner of school poetry
workshops has said, one of the many reasons why she loves the site is because it is totally safe for kids.
TEACHERS’ GUIDE TO www.footballpoets.org