Do they still teach poetry in school? The “3R’s” are getting taught in one way of the other. There are constant complaints in the media about math deficiencies and a lack of reading and writing skills in graduating school students. Nevertheless by and large “education” appears to still be happening in our school systems.
But what about teaching beyond the “basics”? We need to provide a more thorough rounded grounded education. I read here and there that the ability to communicate in English is critical in our diverse business world today. in addition I read that English is a most confusing language to master. Not just for “native” English speakers but also very specifically for those coming to English from another linguistic background:
Read also the following about how inconsistent difficult and confusing the English language can be:
If you can pronounce correctly every word in this poem, you will be speaking English better than 90% of the native English speakers in the world
For certain today’s students are going to be meeting and working with more and more peers who do not share their native English background. The ability to be successful in life will depend in large part on their abilities to communicate successfully with their colleagues peers and life partners.
We know that effective communications depends on more than “raw” linguistic skills. And that is where poetry comes into its own! I was in high school before my education in poetry really made a more lasting impression on me. It was in high school that Mrs. Dickinson our English teacher (complete with English accent!) guided and encouraged us to interpret poetry based on our own individual readings of the basic text. Mrs.Dickinson was a ‘cool’ lady complete with those period pointy eye glasses and a perpetual quirky smile at the corners of her mouth. And Oh those eyes — they just saw right through you!
Mrs. Dickinson made those words on the page live for us. More she showed us that those words had multiple multi-personality almost schizophrenic lives depending on who was reading them depending on how they were read and depending on how our individual readings and moods captured the emotion and intent of the author.
And that is the life lesson that poetry bestows upon us. Not only is beauty in the eye of the beholder. Perception of reality and the true meaning of the words is in the ears (and mind) of the one who hears and absorbs them. Try and convince them otherwise at your peril!