Your Two Favorite Educators
As Emily and Aubrey look back over the week they use their razor sharp wit to discuss the merits of poetry in the English classroom.
1. What are the largest obstacles to teaching poetry?
Emily: I think students are inherently afraid of poetry because they are afraid the poet is playing tricks on them. While they might understand each individual word in a poem, there is something about the compact form and typically rigid structure that makes students doubt whether or not they know what the words mean. They begin to think that every word is a symbol and get frustrated and just quit. The largest obstacle is helping students navigate through a tough poem with confidence.
Aubrey: I feel as if students split down the middle, it’s either fear or the definitive belief that “short” texts are synonymous with ease. It’s very difficult for me to guide both groups to a middle ground. Parsing poetry should be difficult but not every word is a symbol.
2. What merit is there to teaching poetry?
Emily: I love how tight and specific it is. Poems are like taking a novel and cutting it down to the bare bones. What a novelist can posit in 200 pages a poet can do in 14 lines. I think this is the biggest benefit. Students can hone similar skills they would with the book they never pick up because it is too long.
Aubrey: What I wouldn’t give for some concision in student writing. I’d also like poetry to prove to them that a small turn of phrase can pack an incredibly large wallop. So many of my students are hung up on the idea of more, more, more. Poetry teaches patience and the value of writing in “small spaces.” Read more