Some years ago a teacher in Stepney was sacked from his school for encouraging pupils to write poems reflecting life in the East End. Now, he's back with another project.
Watch the video and answer the questions below.
1. When did Chris Searle teach at Sir John Cass School in Stepney?
2. What were the poems about?
3. What did Chris do against the wishes of the head teacher?
4. How long did the students remain on strike?
5. According to Faridha Karim, what are the children not interested in?
6. How many schools did Chris do poetry workshops at?
Let if flow, Joe
Let your feelings speak for you
Let the people know what you know
They're the honest words of young EastEnders which got this former teacher the sack. Chris Searle taught English at Sir John Cass School in Stepney back in the 70s and encouraged pupils to write poetry about their lives.
They looked at their area and they saw what was good about it, but they also saw what was bad about it, and that's what came out in their poetry. Quite a lot of their poems talked about bad housing because at that time housing in this area was quite grim for some families.
Against the wishes of the head teacher he published a book of their revealing work. He was told to leave and hundreds of children walked out in support.
And I can remember, even as I came out here, there was one of the parents who I knew, who had been quite active in the postman’s strike, he was a postman, and he was teaching them how to picket at the school gates. I mean, this was very much a part of life in East London during that period.
The children went back after three days but it took Chris two years to be reinstated, so he set up a writers group for his students and other locals, some of whom were young Bengalis.
It's like a way for these young people who are quite dissociated from what was going on, not interested in education, not interested in… well, not… not feeling like they're involved or included in school and education, and then they kind of came out of their kind of comfort zone.
Chris has been back in East London working with young people again as part of a new Spoken Word Project.
The young people that I met in the four schools that I did the workshops in were tremendous, they were full of spirit and full of pride of being East London young people.
And this new anthology of young East End voices has been published without controversy.
Ayshea Buskh, BBC London News.
1 in the 70’s
2 the good and bad things in the area / bad housing
3 he published a book with the poems
4 for three days
5 their education/school