In An Inspector Calls, playwright J. B. Priestley explores our interdependence and interconnectedness as human beings, highlighting how our behaviour can have consequences that reach far beyond our own lives. To prepare students to read the play, it, therefore, makes sense that they first reflect on the relationship between the individual and society, and how that relationship is both influenced by and influences our identity: Societal institutions, our experiences within them, and other people’s perceptions of who we are directly impact our identity, while at the same time our experiences and our identity directly impact our behaviour and how we relate to those in the world around us. Gaining an understanding of the complex relationship between the individual and society will help prepare students for in-depth analysis of the characters and setting of the play, and for thoughtful exploration of the play’s themes of social responsibility, inequality, growth, justice, and power.
This lesson uses a poem to introduce the concept of identity. Students will read a poem by Melanie Poonai, winner of Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2007, entitled ‘Where I’m From’ and consider the many different factors that make up who she is, both those factors that are influenced by external forces and those that she chooses herself. Students will then have the opportunity to develop their own understanding of identity and its multifaceted nature further through the creation of personal identity charts and poems.
Alignment with the GCSE Specifications
- Analysis (Lit-AO2)
- Clear and Coherent Writing (Lang-AO5)
- Creative Writing (Lang-AO5)
- Knowledge of Subject Terminology (Lit-AO2, Lang-AO2)
- Reading Comprehension (Lit-AO1)
Students develop their understanding of and ability to analyse literary devices by thinking about how and why they are used in Poonai’s poem, and through writing their own poems. The act of writing a poem strengthens students’ ability to analyse poetry: in becoming a poet and crafting language, they are better placed to understand another’s linguistic choices as they have had to consider their own. Giving students an opportunity to personally connect with the content also boosts engagement: students share information that only they know and thus become the experts. The use of discussion and writing throughout gives students the opportunity to verbalise their thoughts and practise turning them into coherent sentences, which will help them across their English GCSEs.
Learn more about this unit's Alignment with GCSE Specification.