Stemming the demise of poetry in schools

I am trying to rescue poetry on YouTube!

As part of my re-training to remain an English teacher in Australia, I have obviously had a lot to do with other pre-service teachers. While they all obviously have a range of strengths and weaknesses as beginning teachers, the one thing that struck me the most about the English teachers is the large number that are intimidated by, and flat out dislike, poetry. It’s not everyone, and I accept that not everyone that wants to teach English necessarily should want to do so because of poetry. However, the proportion of ‘haters’ (as the kids say these days – I’m reliably informed) is, well, disproportionate.

What is in vogue in education goes in cycles, and curriculum and policy are both skittish beasts that tend to change direction with little reason. It’s no surprise, given the neo-liberal influence in education these days, that something so trivial (i.e. good for the soul, but not for the bottom line of the nation’s economy) should be given less of a focus in our curricula. It is therefore completely understandable that today’s young graduate English teachers have less of a grounding in poetry.

But I think it is a travesty. I love poetry. It is the reason I became an English teacher, and if I could only teach the appreciation of poetry for the rest of my life, not only would I really enjoy it, but I can GUARANTEE that I could produce better citizens for the future.

In order to combat the demise of poetry, I’ve relaunched an old YouTube thing I used to do, called the Poetry Show. It is made up of two parts. The first is a weekly episode teaching people how to write better poetry. I have about a year’s worth of material already planned and it is very thorough. The second part is a collection of accessible and short analyses of commonly taught, and not so common but incredibly teachable, poems. My hopes for this enterprise is to create more capable poets, and in turn more capable readers of poetry. I also want to create a bank of (excellent!) resources for more poetry shy teachers to rely on.

The first video in the ‘How to become a better poet’ series can be found here:

If you know any English teachers that may be apprehensive about the teaching of poetry, I would love for you to share this channel, the Poetry Show, with them. And if there are particular poems you’d like me to analyse, drop me a note in the comments here or on one of the videos.

Stemming the demise of poetry in schools

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