How language works

Many thanks for the article about English teaching. This was my favourite subject at Albany High School in the 1950s. Our teacher's name was Bevan Pope. He helped us understand the structure of language and grammar, which for a child is essentially lacking in interest.

In between these dry technical subjects he told us about ideas which have stayed with me all my life. Here are some of them:

"The tigers of wrath are wiser that the horses of instruction" Blake
"Fire and ice within me fight beneath the suffocating night" Housman
"A snake is summer's treason, and guile is where it goes" Dickenson

I could go on. But the point is that you need to know three things: how language works and how to think. That's two of them. The last is how to say something that stays with you forever.

The first is the work of the linguist, the second is the work of the philosopher, and the last is the work of the poet.

Poetry is the backbone of English. In Shelley's words, poets are "the mirrors of the gigantic shadows which futurity casts upon the present".

Literacy is essential and thinking clearly must be added to that.

Then there is the imagination, without which there is nothing.

Yours sincerely

Giles Pickford
3/1 Towradgi Road
Towradgi NSW 2518