Display images/objects representing waste to the class. Ask students to consider the images and write down on a mini whiteboard any words that the images suggest to them (eg waste, smell, dirty, redundant)
Feedback session: use the board to write up appropriate words offered by the class.
Then introduce the items/images that we may associate with a previous generation. Ask them to discuss in pairs what the items suggest to them about the owners of the objects.
Use the feedback session to share their conclusions and discuss why the class might feel that these aren't a young/middle-aged person's things. Write up suggestions on the board. You may also wish to discuss whether these items evoke any feelings or emotions among pupils - of ridicule, fond memories, anecdotes, etc.
Distribute paper printouts of the poem to the class. Then play the audio of the poem and establish a shared understanding of the 'story' of the poem, focusing on the poet chancing on personal belongings on the impersonal setting of a landfill site. You may wish to clarify any difficult vocabulary.
Play the poem again to the class, including Kathleen Jamie's own comments. As they listen, ask pupils to notice words itemising or linked with the personal lives of these people, and highlight them on their copy of the poem.
Work through the poem on the interactive whiteboard, modelling the process of highlighting words linked to the personal things (postcards, dictionary) and personal lives of these people (his country, hedgerows). Discuss the poet's linking of these things to 'the past' and the link between the people, their lifestyles and their country.
Ask pupils in pairs to highlight words linked to the negative and anonymous ('landfill site', '30 mile an hour sign', 'toppled fridge'), contrasting with the personal words already discussed. This can be done on paper, or on screen using a highlight tool. Ask them to discuss the link between these anonymous words with the 'present' of the poetic voice (ie the dump, the issues raised in the final stanza of the poem). In linking these more negative images and words with modern life, what is the poet suggesting about today's society?
The handout contains 10 statements that link with some of the topics raised in the poem. Pupils could work on paper or you could give them the statements on workstations in word-processed form. Ask pupils to consider the statements in relation to the poem and select two that they think are particularly relevant to the poet's standpoint and two that are at odds with it. They need to have reasons for their answers for the plenary session, making close reference to the language of the text. If pupils are working using ICT they can eliminate those answers that are not in their final selection and write a statement to explain their reasons. Pupils can then print out their work for teacher assessment or comment, or this could be used after the lesson, in post-plenary discussion, or as a homework activity.
- Valuable past traditions and values have been lost in modern Scotland.
- We live in a throwaway culture that doesn't recycle things
- Modern life can be anonymous and uncaring and we can learn from the past
- There is value and truth in past ways of life that we can learn from rather than discard
- What goes around comes around
- Old people's experience has little relevance or value for the modern world.
- There is a horror in realising that in the future we could become part of a discarded and undervalued 'past'
- The experience of clearing away others things to make way for the future is a depressing but necessary task
- The countryside that we used to enjoy has been replaced by a commercial, fast-paced environment
- With the loss of the previous generation, Scotland has lost its national identity and become taken over by modern consumerism.
Invite students to share their statements and reasons with the class. You may wish to display screen four and conduct a 'ballot' to achieve a class consensus of the most relevant and irrelevant statements in relation to the poem.