“Poetry is one of my delights! I enjoy its depth, its rhythm and rhyme. I love that it can take me into the hearts and minds of the poets, and its ability to change mine.”

We posed the question, “What is poetry?” to our Grade 7 students this week, and got the following answers, “It is rhyme… feelings… emotions…. rhythm….creativity…. a picture created by words… innermost thoughts and feelings of the poet”. All answers which thrilled and excited us at the prospect of receiving excellent poems in the future.

We had the pleasure of introducing them to the answer in the form of the first poem for the term:

What’s A Poem?

A whisper,
a shout,
thoughts turned
inside out.

A laugh,
a sigh,
an echo
passing by.

A rhythm,
a rhyme,
a moment
caught in time.

A moon,
a star,
a glimpse
of who you are.

–Charles Ghigna

I am sure, however, that as parents you wonder why we require of students to read poetry and why we as teachers so love teaching poetry?  Some of the answers to these questions are as follows:

1.     It provides pure joy.

Sadly, many have become indifferent to poetry as it was often merely forced upon students as something that has to be done as part of the curriculum. Poetry has often been taught as a means for analysis and critique, rather than the enlightenment and joy.

2.     It promotes focus.

Due to the fact that a poem is so short, it allows the teacher to draw the students attention to each individual word, its meaning, spelling and context.

3.     It sparks an interest in Linguistic Studies.

It is really hard for a Grade 7 student to become excited about grammar, letter writing, sentence construction and dictionary studies. Poetry, however, is a very different genre. It takes the student out of the literal world of linguistic studies, into a non-literal world. This, in itself, presents a challenge and a thrill.

4.     It develops linguistic skills.

Poetry is linguistically rich, more so than other genres. It is the perfect exercise for building vocabulary and sentence construction.

5.     It enriches the student’s cultural experiences.

Much like music, poetry has no cultural boundaries. It enriches our understanding of those who have different social, political, familial and personal beliefs.

6.     It links the creative and logical experience.

Being able to relay your emotions logically and systematically in writing requires the author to simultaneously employ the cognitive skill of creativity and logic. The process mimics problem solving and promotes the development of emotional intelligence.

7.     Develops self-awareness and self-reflection.

Neurological studies propose that the reason for the teenager’s change in behaviour is due to the fact that there is a deliberate pruning back of the prior critical connections made in the brain (prior information that was connected in order to make sense). The frequency and speed of the transmission of new messages through the brain also increase dramatically and the brain is now frantically searching to make new connections. Besides the quantitative changes there is also a qualitative shift in their thinking which leads to them being more self-aware and self-reflective.

Poetry is the perfect tool to aid the teenager through this very confusing and challenging time and helps them to reflect on and process their thoughts about self.

8.     Promotes speaking skills.

Having students read and recite poems, their own and that of other poets, gives them the opportunity to develop their speaking and presentation skills. It aids the development of good diction and grows their confidence as they get given the opportunity to let their hair down and display their dramatic art skills.

I trust your youngsters will find poetry as intriguing as we do!

Be sure to watch this space for some fabulous poems written by our Grade 7 students.

Writing up a storm!

Writing up a storm!

References:

Dunning, S 1996. The English Journal. Vol. 55, No. 2, pp. 158-161

Sarah-Jayne Blakemore. The mysterious working of the adult brain http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zVS8HIPUng accessed on 05 October 2013.

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