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Why Poetry?

Child writing poems

Why poetry in schools?


Poetry is perfect for schools. It wields the power of theatre, art, music and film but needs no stage, oil paints, musical instruments or movie camera. What it does need – focused moments in which to listen, look, remember and imagine – are all the things that make childhood magical.

Rooted in the language of childhood, poetry is found in nursery rhymes, playground chants; the way a child uses metaphor as a way of getting round a still-growing vocabulary. Whether we feature it on the curriculum or not, poetry already exists in schools – our question is how best to nurture it.

We have known for years that poetry increases confidence and encourages new ways of thinking, but its need for mystery can make it feel a little dangerous in the classroom. Attempts to pin down one agreed meaning, or a focus on form over content can put children off for life! So how do teachers ‘teach’ it?

Celebrating poetry’s intrinsic puzzle-factor is a good way to start. Imagine a birthday gift presented to you in a clear cellophane wrapper… or an arrival without any journey... The poet wants you to reread and revisit; discovering something new each time.

The former US Poet Laureate, Billy Collins, puts it this way: 'When I teach poetry, instead of asking what does a poem mean? I try to substitute the question of how does a poem operate? How does it get from one place to another?'

Enjoy the journey.

 

- Mandy Coe

Michael Rosen's video tips

Watch these videos for inspiration from Michael Rosen himself for making your classroom poetry friendly. You'll find thirteen great ideas for fun poetry activities for the classroom.

Poetry resources for teachers

Find a selection of poetry resources to download, including activity ideas, poetry templates, and teaching  sequences for some of our favourite poetry books including Michael Rosen's A-Z of Poetry.