I was going to write about all of the things we have been doing to try to break down the barriers to poetry in class. All of the eye rolls I have been seeing, the grunts and groans. The many “Roses are red…” poems I have sen in the last few days as I ask them to write me a poem, any poem, just write something. I was going to write about how many of my students hate poetry because of all of the rules we have forced upon them in our pursuit of helpfulness and understanding. I was going to write about how my students are slowly inching further away from a disinterest or total hate to a small interest or even like when it comes to listening to poetry. Writing it is an entirely different battle.
But I decided that this was bigger than that. This moment, in our classrooms, is bigger than that.
It is not that my students are the only ones that hate poetry. In fact, some of them do, some of them don’t.
It is not that my students are the only ones who hate writing. Hate reading. Hate book clubs. Hate English. Some of them do, some of them don’t.
It is not that my students are finally expressing their hatred not to be mean or out of spite, but so we can do something about it.
It is not that my students are different from most students.
It is more that I have had the same conversations every year.
It is more that every kid has something they hate about school because of choices I have made, choices we have made, when we decided to teach a certain way.
It is more that student curiosity seems to have been drowned out by our carefully planned lessons.
That inquiry and critical thinking have been buried by the pursuit of the one right answer.
That we have taught students that school is black and white while life is multicolored.
That we tell them to sit still so much that they forget their own voice.
That we make all of the choices for them and then get frustrated when they cannot create on their own.
That is what I need to write about because that is what I have discussed with my students. That is what teaching poetry has revealed so far. That is what I need to change.
Who knew poetry would be the place my students found their voice.
I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark, who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade. Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day. The second edition of my first book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” will be published by Routledge in the fall. Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press. Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.