Teaching Literature: Potato People

By LEE CHEN PING (A126076)

As the Malaysia Form 2 students are learning “Potato People” by Angela Wright in their literature component, I realised the need to expose the background and historical setting for that story. Well, “Potato People” takes place in 1840s at Ireland where extreme famine occurred because their staple food, potatoes were attacked by fungus. People were left starving and death was common. Moreover, the English colonisation has worsened the whole situation. Therefore, most people tried to escape to America in order to survive.

The historical context above is not mentioned in the story. The story straight away starts with famine and the escape to America. Therefore, I believe most of the students will be wondering why there is famine and what had happened. If teachers are able to explain in detail about the history of Ireland, students will be able to understand the “Potato People” better.

So, I have created a short video about “The Great Famine” in Ireland. This video is quite short but very informative. Teachers are most welcome to use it for their set induction.

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