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Introducing An Inspector Calls to Y10

Discussion in 'English' started by Oursisthenqt, Aug 11, 2020.

  1. Oursisthenqt

    Oursisthenqt New commenter

    Hi all,

    I'm an NQT and I have two introductory lessons in September before my Y10's begin An Inspector Calls scheme of work. I was thinking for these two introductory lessons I would do introductions to whodunnits and crime thrillers - just to get stuck in (after rattling off the GCSE expectations, etc) and it will give me a feel of prior-knowledge and they can get some context.

    Does anyone have any ideas on how to do this without dipping too much in the text? Any good videos on Youtube of examples? Good games - such as murder mysteries, writing prompts, etc?
  2. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    An Inspector Calls isn’t a crime thriller or whodunit though. How about doing some speaking activities, or creative writing? Or reading a contextually relevant short story?
    jarndyce, steely1 and harsh-but-fair like this.
  3. Oursisthenqt

    Oursisthenqt New commenter

    It fits into the crime thriller genre. There are three possibilities: morality play (which often takes the style of a whodunnit), well-made play and a crime thriller. This is what I had observed in all lessons of An Inspector Calls so far and learned during my own time in school..

    What I had been thinking was having some social responsibility scenarios on the board and this prompts discussion about what is 'moral' and 'just', etc. Gets them a feel of one of the main themes. Could then move into assumptions about the play, knowing a crime is possibly committed and hearing about social responsibility. I dunno though.

    I don't want to do creative writing with them for the first lessons as my Y7, Y8 and Y9 are all doing that. I want the lessons to be linking them into AIC ready for starting the play two lessons later.
    Mrsmumbles likes this.
  4. rachelsays

    rachelsays New commenter

    I'd take major issue with your categorisation of AIC as a crime thriller or well-made play - no 'crime' has been committed - someone has taken their own life, which is not a crime - and it's not a well-made play because the ending is not a happy one. If you want to give it a definition, the closest you can get is defining it as a morality play. As an NQT, you must be careful to ensure you thoroughly research before you teach and not just rely blindly on what someone you've observed has taught their class.

    If you must do an introductory lesson before starting to teach, I'd go down the scenario route and explore students' responses to challenging moral dilemmas to give them the opportunity to discuss their own attitudes towards social responsibility and where those attitudes come from. Creating a scenario with several people involved and then asking them to decide who is responsible often works well and is good fun. It's always really interesting to see how students from different cultural and social backgrounds view things differently, too.

    I don't think that two introductory lessons are necessary. Why have you decided to do two introductory lessons? It seems like a waste of time to me. Just crack on with teaching the play once you've given them the chance to explore the concept of moral dilemmas. They'll soon work out what the play is about without needing to be introduced to all of the themes and ideas first - AIC is like paint by numbers - it's really not hard to follow, so no pre teaching should really be required!

    Have fun with it- it's a great play to teach and the kids always love it.
    jarndyce and Oursisthenqt like this.
  5. Oursisthenqt

    Oursisthenqt New commenter

    I spoke to my friend yesterday, who is also an NQT, who said it's more of a 'howdidyadoit' or 'howdidyacontribute' which is case. In my argument, a crime was committed considering Eric took advantage of Eva Smith but that's just my opinion there.

    I have designed a morality lesson now, which looks alright, I think - some scenarios, peer discussion, mind mapping 'morality' etc. I have also given an excerpt from a piece of work that shows a strong sense of wrong and right, alongside 'moral obligation' so these should be good things to get them started.

    The reason I have two introductory lessons is my school, not me. We start on a Thursday and I have them Thursday and Friday. They want us to do set up classes until Monday. I suppose the first introductory class can be setting them up with AR, rattling off the GCSE specs, etc and then going into morality and then Monday rolling into the play. If I have time, I do want to start them reading An Inspector Calls as a class so I will probably have time for that.

    Thanks, I'm a bit nervous because my placement school were extremely protective of their year 10's and wouldn't allow me to teach them! So as I didn't do my second placement, I feel I am going in blind..
  6. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    Yes, while Priestley has used detective/mystery tropes, his intention was to subvert them, rather than write an actual crime thriller.

    If schools begin by setting the play up in the crime thriller genre, they're setting false expectations for their students. The original audience would not have sat there thinking they were watching something in that genre - they knew what Priestley was all about, in terms of his politics. So why give students such a different experience to the one Priestley intended?

    Of course, your school may want you to teach in that way, and as an NQT you have to be careful.
    Oursisthenqt likes this.
  7. Oursisthenqt

    Oursisthenqt New commenter

    Btw, I forgot to say thanks to both of you :)

    That's true... I think my safest route here then is to do morality as you guys have suggested and get stuck in and if it comes up in the SoW, I could use it then rather than set them up falsely. I'm now questioning things i have observed and how I was taught :/ Also, some of the sources online should really be careful too as a lot of them label it as a well-done and a crime thriller but you guys have set me straight.

    Thank you!
    blueskydreaming likes this.
  8. gruoch

    gruoch Established commenter

    It was both when the play is set and when it was written (for the sake of accuracy). I absolutely agree re 'crime' genre. It isn't. If I were to categorise it without going into complex discussions about Ouspensky, I'd probably say it's a parable which structurally adheres to the three unities.
    harsh-but-fair likes this.

    ACOYEAR8 Star commenter

    I guess it's whatever floats your boat -it's definitely not a crime thriller in any traditional Agatha Christie sense.
    For impact, you're going to need to do at least two context lessons and prep up on social upheavals from JP's pov.
  10. rachelsays

    rachelsays New commenter

    Yes, I do know that! I just didn't mention it as I didn't think it was relevant to the teaching of the play - but thank you for making it clear to others reading who might not know.
  11. gruoch

    gruoch Established commenter

    I suspect that a lot of people aren't aware that suicide used to be considered a crime and that failed suicides could be jailed.
  12. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    Because you're new here, your posts are moderated, so don't appear for hours. So, I've only just seen this post - it's frustrating, but the more you use the site, the mods should release you.

    Eric hasn't committed a crime in law, though. That's the whole point of the play - no one could be arrested, even for stealing the money (it's a private company; there's no evidence; there would be a cover up). Yet, the younger characters do feel guilt for their roles in Eva's life and death. Society is being questioned/put on trial/judged by the inspector - the characters represent society - it's not a question of 'whodunit' because it's not about individuals - all of society is ultimately responsible for a young woman's death.

    It's all about morals - the 7 deadly sins - innocent Eve (Eva).
  13. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    Don't feel sad about that - it's a good thing! It'll make you a better teacher in the long run.
  14. englishtt06

    englishtt06 Occasional commenter

    There's an old Hertfordshire Grid for Learning unit for AIC which, if you google it, has quite a lot of prep lessons covering moral dilemmas and contextual issues. They're probably a bit old hat by now but could easily be refreshed for a new outing. They also have about 3-4 lessons worth that really go into detail, if I remember correctly. I can probably send them to you if you struggle to find them.

    I actually don't mind the idea of AIC as crime mystery - it's not strictly accurate, but then genre is a slippery thing (as A Level teaches the students - AQA B Lit very clear to make a distinction between crime writing and the crime genre, BTW; and they're all about applying genre conventions to texts which pre-date the genre itself!). I guess this comes from the idea that the audience are trying to work out who did what to whom, and the detective is in control: a'la Agatha Christie. Though I'd be cautious how far you went down the crime route - it's more a device for thinking about what drives the play and the audience responses/expectations (and how these change for context: many modern audiences would associate the drawing-room set up with Christie or even the parody film, Clue).

    I would say, though, that the main connection hip young teachers make these days for AIC is to Thirteen Reasons Why, which is an excellent companion text (book or Netflix show). I haven't taught AIC for a few years now but it seems to me there's an awful lot of things going on right now that would very well with the socialist ideology of the play: this meme is a great way to start

    I've found that a lot of GCSE students struggle to contextualise the ideas as they don't really understand penury or class bias (or some don't!), spirals of decline etc. They can grasp it in an abstract way but many of my GCSE students think £100 a week is a lot of money for a family to live off. The first time I taught it, I remember one girl saying 'As if you'd become a prostitute' as if it was an overnight choice!
    ACOYEAR8 likes this.
  15. jarndyce

    jarndyce Occasional commenter

    On Teachit there's a 'moral message team game' resource which has always worked well for me. The final 'source' they have to look at is the 'fire and blood and anguish' bit from the end, so you can finish that by modelling a bit of AO2 analysis (or make them do it).

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