Reasons for Using and Teaching Poetry (page 2)
A number of reasons exist to use poetry with young adults. Poetry “has the power not only to delight but also has the potential to instruct” (Kazemek, 2003, p. 46) especially by providing “non-didactic moral education” (p. 44). In addition,
Poetry, like painting, reflects a special way of looking at the world. The poet, as the painter, looks at the world with an artist’s vision, selecting images as vehicles for thoughts and feelings. The process is the same; only the mode of expression is different. The artist uses paint to convey a personal vision of the world: the poet uses words (Marshall & Newman, 1997, p. 7).
Unfortunately, an emphasis on poetic conventions may keep adolescents from enjoying the “words and music” (p. 23) of poetry (Thomas, 2000). For example, when Andrea Davis (1997) surveyed her eighth-grade students, their comments about poetry ranged from “I love it” to “It’s boring, pointless, and mushy” (p. 17). However, she found that, at the end of a carefully planned poetry anthology unit, these same students made the following comments:
Before we did the anthology I hated poetry, I am glad my opinion changed. You’re probably going to think I’m lying, but I thought the anthologies were the best thing we’ve done all year . . . I even think I learned how to enjoy poetry a little better. (Davis, 1997, p. 20)
Lowery (2003) also found that poetry, with its short, concise thoughts, is an excellent way to help students at risk of failure learn to read. Poetry can help everyone (even preservice teachers) reflect on themselves and move “beyond those self-reflections to understanding the greater worldview” (p. 51).
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