Monday, February 20, 2012

Teaching Poetry to Pre-service English Teachers

Question: Why is teaching poetry important?

Answer: “…given downward trends in America’s poetry reading and writing…. In this article, we argue that preservice teachers have limited experience reading and writing poetry, and that if they are to teach poetry in meaningful ways to their future students, they need to have compelling experience with poetry in teacher education—ones that take into account their former experiences and incoming dispositions and that invite them to begin to live ‘the life of a poet.’ ” P. 102.

Quote: “…we drew on Boyer’s notion of the scholarship of teaching (1990) to address three research questions: (1) What are preservice teachers’ perceptions of past experiences with poetry? (2) What dispositions (that is, attitudes and habits) toward poetry reading, writing, and performance do preservice teachers have? (3) How can an aesthetic approach enhance preservice teachers’ experiences with and dispositions toward poetry? Based on this research, we recommend that teacher education not only include substantive course work on the topic of poetry, but that the pedagogy of such a course approximate, to the extent possible, practicing poets’ engagement with the genre. This includes opportunities for preservice teachers to read and write a wide variety of poetry, to be exposed to a diversity of poets in and out of the classroom, to workshop their poems in small groups with peers, to read or perform their original poetry for an audience, and to engage in ‘poetic’ living and observation.” P. 102.

Quote: “In advocating an expanded role for poetry in society, former poet laureate Ted Kooser (2005) wrote, ‘I’d like a world, wouldn’t you, in which people actually took the time to think about what they were saying? It would be, I’m sure, a more peaceful, more reasonable place. I don’t think there could ever be too many ;poets.”  P, 103.

Comment: Sounds like a need to teach content for English education majors. Since I’m an English major who stumbled into education, content—except for teaching writing—was not an issue. How prepared are English education students for teaching their subject? How many literature courses do they take?

Other than that concern, I approve the idea, especially for gathering a stockpile of favorite poems with which to begin to encourage future students’ engagement with poetry. RayS.

Title: “Living the Poet’s Life: Using an Aesthetic Approach to Poetry to Enhance Preservice Teachers’ Poetry Experiences and Dispositions.” JL Certo, L Apol, E Wibbens and LK Hawkins. English Education (January 2012), 102-146.

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