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In The Classroom

Teachers from around the country share their classes’ reactions to The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas:

The combination of film work and text work seems to have paid off, as the pupils really appeared to engage with the issues raised, and they produced some very thoughtful coursework. The resources opened up other avenues of exploration, such as predicting what might happen from a clip rather than a chapter (although we did both), and working out why the director had used certain shots and camera angles, as well as working out why the author had used various techniques and style of writing. That these approaches worked, and that the one had informed the other, became apparent not only with Folio work, but also when I managed to get the class to a one-off showing in Inverness towards the end of the last term: they very much watched the film with new eyes, as we had practically finished our Unit of work by then.

Kathryn Sharples, Kilchuimen Academy

I have been using the Resource with yr 10 students who particularly appreciated the opportunity afforded to hear the thoughts of the author, in respect to his own vision for the original book and its subsequent adaptation. What my students found particularly revelatory about the film, as opposed to the book, was the brilliant way the director had depicted the moral disintegration of the boy's mother, as a result of discovering the exact nature of her husband's work. The class clearly appreciated that film can enhance what is in a book, told only from a little boy’s perspective. He would not notice such things and therefore the filmed realisation of Boyne's message can clearly be enhanced by the objective eye of the cinematic lens.

Nigel Tattersfield, Prior Park College

On the whole the story – both the written and film versions - invited the children to really think about what happened during the Holocaust. The text and script bought home to them the horrors and cruelty that were incurred by so many innocent people. A number of our pupils commented upon how they were left with an overwhelming feeling of despair - how they wanted to climb into the film/book and be ‘there’ to support and guide Bruno.

However, it was the climatic ending that made the most impact. As one child said, “I knew that something dramatic was imminent but not in all my wildest dreams did I expect the ending that was delivered.” Another just wanted “to shout out loud and stop Bruno and Shmuel from entering the chamber”. 

In essence both texts (film and novel) delivered a punch. The fluidity of the story line bought the past bang up to date for a new generation.   Our pupils have now enriched their understanding of the Holocaust and are keen to undertake further research of this period of history.

Denise McCulloch, Librarian

The exploration of the innocence of youth provided a range of opportunities for the students to develop their own writing and their appreciation of how a novel can convey emotion in a poignant way. The older students found the way the NAZIs were portrayed of particular interest and fascinating in its depiction of evil as neither black nor white but shades of grey.

The themes of friendship, evil and parent child relationships encouraged the children to consider many current world issues and other texts we have studied. This was particular evident in Year 12 were they study the War Literature.  The amount of boys engaged in reading has increased and some students even volunteered to prepare an assembly for Holocaust Memorial Day.

Lee Butler, St Augustines Catholic High School

We use the resources with our top 3 classes in Year 8 and they have been very positively received.  The resources are well planned in line with new curriculum guidelines and stimulate some thought provoking discussions. Written work produced by the students in this unit was also impressive, showing clear empathy with different situations and shock at story's ending! Thank you for such an amazing resource; it certainly makes our planning easier!

Rachel Hazelwood, Pedmore Technology and Community College

I was aware of a really good reaction to both novel and film, so when your disc arrived I was keen to run through it. I had originally thought that this story would be too harrowing for year 8 pupils but your introduction and materials made it clear that it was a perfect vehicle for all kinds of creative and discussion work, coupled with powerful cross-curricular links with citizenship and R.E. I was fired with enthusiasm by your materials; the choice of film clips and accompanying resources are loaded with implications for discussion, and I have planned the entire contents of your disc into my scheme of work. I'm confident it will be both exciting and successful.

Stuart Macfarlan, Holywell Middle School