What does culture mean to you? This was a question put to our twelve year olds last term, in preparation for a scheme of work on poetry from different cultures. This is an interesting section of the syllabus and exposes the students to themes ranging from local dialects to racial inequality, human rights and migration.
The students were encouraged to think about things that make them feel British – does it depend on where they live or the families they are growing up in. Are there particular traditions within their family – for example, at Christmas time? They became engaged with this topic fairly quickly and were soon comparing the merits of opening all their presents before breakfast, watching lots of television and having a big turkey dinner.
It took a while to get them to come up with random choices of Britishness. To get them started, I jotted down a list of items which I think makes me intrinsically British. We turned it into a poem and two of the students performed it in a “rap” style.
Here it is:
What makes us British as a nation -
A big red bus, Victoria Station,
The Union Jack or wearing a Mac,
Forming a queue or Winnie the Pooh?
Henley Regatta, fish in batter,
Wedgwood pottery, the national lottery;
Wembley Stadium, the London Palladium
A Sunday roast or Marmite toast?
Socks with sandals, mindless vandals
The Stratford Bard, changing the guard,
Ascot hats or cricket bats?
To Cowes for a sail - the Royal Mail
Yorkshire pud or Robin Hood
The BBC; afternoon tea –
All these things make me…ME!
We had fun with this, as you might imagine. What makes you essentially British, American, French, Canadian, I wonder…