Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Chris Port Blog #179. Sense of Worth Teachers Pack Chapter 3: Anxieties.

© Chris Port
Central School of Speech and Drama, 1998



  • To prepare students for discussion of anxieties.


    • 3.1: List of anxieties (for teacher only)
    • 3.2: Questionnaire I am worried about...
    • 3.3: Poem Tubular Hell
    • 3.4: Question prompt (for teacher only)


    1. Photocopy Resource 3.2: Questionnaire I am worried about... One copy per student.
    2. Photocopy Resource 3.3: Poem Tubular Hell. One copy per student.


    1. Distribute photocopied resources as above. Explain that these are the students’ property and will not be handed in.
    2. Talk in general terms about anxieties. Refer to Resource 3.1: List of anxieties (for teacher only) if appropriate.
    3. Allow approximately 5 minutes for completion of questionnaires. Explain that these are not examination conditions. Encourage discussion and collaboration but monitor students to stay on track.
    4. Ask students for general examples of their anxieties. For obvious reasons, emphasize that it is important to keep the discussion general and avoid disclosing intimate details. Good humour (if appropriate) and recognition of common anxieties are probably the most useful aspects of this debate.
    5. Refer briefly to any support or counseling services offered by the school.
    6. Read out Resource 3.3: Poem Tubular Hell with students.
    7. Use Resource 3.4: Question prompt (for teacher only) to analyze, discuss and criticize the poem.
    8. Debrief and feedback.

    *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *

    Resource 3.1: List of anxieties (for teacher only)

    As an example, here is a list of anxieties expressed by the students during the original workshop programme. They are listed in the original order given:

    1. Spiders
    2. Spice girls
    3. Exams
    4. Men
    5. Sisters
    6. Stress
    7. Getting pregnant
    8. Being alone
    9. Marrying wrong person
    10. Contraception
    11. Sexism
    12. Being infertile
    13. Old age
    14. Gay people
    15. Losing someone
    16. Gang rape
    17. Lesbians
    18. Careers
    19. No money
    20. Qualifications
    21. Life
    22. Life after death
    23. Bad hair
    24. No food
    25. Claustrophobia
    26. Failure
    27. Being attacked
    28. Parents
    29. No cable TV
    30. No men paying mortgage
    31. AIDS
    32. World ending
    33. Cancer
    34. No dustmen
    35. Death

    Use the space below to write down any additional anxieties expressed by the students during the exercise:

    *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *

    Resource 3.2: Questionnaire I am worried about...

    This sheet is yours to keep. You will not be asked to hand it in.

    Everyone worries about things at sometime or other. Some worries might seem quite trivial. Other worries can seem to take over your whole life.

    Sometimes people worry about material things like not having enough money. Other times they worry about emotional things like relationships. Some worries have a solution. Other worries might seem unending.

    Sometimes we need to talk about our worries before we can see whether there is a solution or not.

    List five things that worry you. Also, if you think there is a solution, write it alongside:






    If you have any other thoughts, write them below:

    *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *

    Resource 3.3: Poem Tubular Hell

    Please return this sheet at the end of the session.

    Tubular Hell
    © Chris Port
    Central School of Speech and Drama, 1999

    In tubular hell,
    well buried underground,
    where the hot winds
    of infection howl,
    the crowd fumes
    like the blanket of a wet dog.

    Then, blasted to your nostrils
    by a handkerchief going off,
    with cocaine snorts of mucus
    comes the one for whom you must
    move your bag.

    Make room for the hag,
    that hot water boiler,
    squeezing her oily heat
    against you.

    Damp pressure, a curse
    of rat-sweaty fur,
    she sneezes and coughs
    in tissue blowing-offs
    and you sullenly watch
    as that aerosol mist of snot
    glistens to your breath
    in hairspray drops.

    Horribly familiar
    neighbourly microbes
    settle down
    to raise families
    up your nose.

    Now is your weekend
    to bed and unwell
    from catching the’flu train
    through tubular hell.

    *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *

    Resource 3.4: Question prompt (for teacher only)

    Summary of poem

    The poem is set on an underground tube train. The narrator dislikes being trapped with the noise and smell of the crowds. A ‘bag lady’ approaches, ill with influenza. She sits down next to the narrator who is resentful. The narrator realizes that she will become infected and ill by the weekend (her free time). The narrator is paranoid about contact with other people who are seen only as annoying and harmful strangers.

    Interpretation of the poem

    There is no single interpretation. The unpleasant feelings and fears of the narrator can be used to open up a discussion on xenophobia. An anti-racist message is there to be explored but hopefully from a slightly different and less prescriptive angle.

    The following questions are simply designed as prompts for an initial discussion. It will be up to the students to discover any hidden depths or shallows.

    1. Where is the poem set?
    2. How does the narrator describe the setting?
    3. What happens during the poem?
    4. What is the narrator's attitude to the woman?
    5. Do you agree or disagree with this attitude?
    6. Do you feel sorry for anyone?
    7. Do you think anyone is at fault?
    8. Should you blame your ills on other people?
    9. Why do you think the poem is called Tubular Hell?
    10. What kind of poems do you think should be displayed in underground tube trains?

    Use the space below to write down any other prompt questions that you think might be useful. 

    No comments:

    Post a Comment