Friday, 7 December 2007

Poetry is weakest area of English teaching

According to today's Daily Mail, classic poems are in danger of disappearing from English lessons because teachers with little knowledge of literature are resorting to "lightweight" verse, school inspectors have warned. Only very few primary schools are tackling works such as Wordworth's Daffodils or Coleridge's the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Too many primary teachers do not know enough about poetry to cover the subject properly and concentrate instead on a narrow range of easier works, often by modern writers.

Ofsted inspectors also warned that a culture of coaching pupils for tests in the three Rs was squeezing the time available for the study of poetry. Across primary and secondary schools, too much poetry teaching was "dull" and unchallenging, they said. Inspectors who checked poetry teaching at 86 primary and secondary schools concluded it was the worst-taught aspect of English. One in three schools were merely "satisfactory" while only seven were rated "outstanding". At primary level, many teachers had not been trained well enough to cover poetry with their classes.

Rather than giving detailed feedback on pupils' own attempts at poetry, they tended to make comments such as "super" or "lovely poem". In a report published today, inspectors also urged teachers to allow children to study a wider range of poems both from classic authors and other cultures. "Many teachers, especially in the primary schools, did not know enough about poetry," the inspectors said. "This sometimes led to poor quality marking and a uniformity in practice, where the same few poems were studied across most schools. "Although these poems were mostly worth studying, many of them were relatively lightweight and pupils had only limited experience of classic poems and poems from other cultures and traditions."

Children's experience of poetry also suffered through the "emphasis over recent years on raising standards of basic literacy" and national tests, the report said. Teachers who set boring class work - such as asking pupils to count the lines or list the rhymes in a poem - make poetry "a chore rather than a pleasure".

Personally, I really struggle teaching poetry. I find it really difficult to be inspired by writing poems and would really appreciate any extra training on this subject!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great to see a Y6 teacher blog - nice to know your out there! Does it help to cope with the mad world we find ourselves in!
I love poetry - my degree is in literature and history so I have fun teaching it - but I can see the OF*** poeple have a point -it is too neglected.
My tip is to read lots of poetry - the more you do the more you will appreciate and understand.