Dias and Hayhoe p. This review, therefore, attempts to examine closely some of the methods that have been used in the teaching of poetry in secondary schools up to recent times and the suggestions that have been made to improve the status of poetry in schools and to help students to enjoy poetry. Strong pp. He lays the blame squarely at the door of schools; more specifically on the incompetence of teachers and incorrect teaching methods. Strong contends that poetry has, for a long time, been mishandled and poorly taught by teachers who have no understanding of poetry and therefore see it as an unpleasant aspect of teaching or by those who, while they may have some degree of appreciation for poetry, are unable to communicate this appreciation to others.
He identifies some basic errors in the teaching of poetry and their possible effects: Teaching poetry as comprehension, paraphrasing, learning by heart, and prescribing tastes. Teaching poetry as comprehension — one method which has been used in the teaching of poetry is the introduction - explanation - question format. He has all the answers and he asks all the questions. The students are not given the privilege of becoming involved in the poem or in the class, for that matter. This method offers no motivation to them and fails to elicit any response from them. At most they may consider poetry lessons to be dull and uninspiring.
They are forced to discover answers to questions on a complex form of writing which has nothing to do with them and which they do not understand. Paraphrasing — Certain public examinations require that students paraphrase pieces of poetry.
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Paraphrasing can have only negative effects. The form of a poem is important to its meaning and so the paraphrase robs the poem of an integral aspect of its being. But even worse, is the fact that the pupils are given the impression that poetry is only a complex way of saying something simple; that the poet is deliberately mystifying them with strange concepts that could be very easily expressed in prose. The result could be strong aversion to poetry on the part of pupils.
Learning by heart — Nothing can have a more disastrous effect on students than forcing them to memorize a poem before they have reached the stage at which they can appreciate it. Learning by heart is something that comes naturally if the right poem is selected. Prescribing tastes — Many teachers try to force on their pupils tastes and values that have been handed down to them from generations back. The skilled teacher should expose students to poems that lie within their range and for a start, at least poems they are likely to enjoy and allow them to acquire their individual tastes.
Questioning, paraphrasing, memorizing and prescribing are all strategies which the skilled teacher can incorporate into his lessons very effectively, provided that he recognizes the pitfalls to which they can lead if they are employed in the wrong contexts. In more recent times, these techniques have been utilized to great effect, in conjunction with others, in the teaching of poetry.
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The four areas addressed are Identify, Diversity, Justice and Action. The standards are written to ensure that there is a community of action engaged in reducing prejudice in a deliberate and measured way. In addition, there is an expectation of direct and explicit teaching around not only changing our actions as individuals but also engaging in changing the system schools and communities.
As educators, we have some freedoms with the titles we choose for books for students to read, topics for students to write about and how we ask students to solve problems. When we are selecting books for students to read and topics for students to write about, we often pick titles that we read as students and topics we were asked to write about as students. These titles along with so many others are anchored in Community restoration, dignity for all, forgiveness, problem-solving, empathy and creating a sense of belonging.
Once we are reading about social justice, we can begin to act through writing, problem-solving, projects and discussions.
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As students grow in their knowledge of social justice, we will need to be prepared for some of our more traditional approaches to discipline to be challenged as well. Traditional approaches in schools are based on a punitive approach which research has found generally targets marginalized students and creates an unjust approach to discipline within schools.
The foundation of restorative practices postulates that the school is a community whose members are of equal importance. Restorative communities create an understanding that we are all a community and our actions impact others and most importantly impact our relationships with others. In order to be a successful member of the community, you need to repair the harm caused and reset the relationships.
As the adults in the schools, we have an obligation to engage in a process of review of where our schools are in being socially just. We need to be open to differing opinions, admit that we have bias and stereotypes that we will have to address on a near daily basis and be committed to explicitly teaching the principles of social justice to our students.