Friday, December 07, 2007
Poetry is not being taught at all in British schools. This is the actual, as opposed to the stated, finding of an Ofsted report. This will make, for sensitive Thought Experimenters, grim reading. Perhaps the worst detail is the list of poems most likely to be taught in primary schools - Noyes, The Highwayman; Milligan, On the Ning, Nang, Nong; Carroll, Jabberwocky; Lear, The Owl and the Pusscat; Stevenson, From a Railway Carriage; de la Mare, The Listeners; Wright, The Magic Box; McGough, The Sound Collector; Dahl, Revolting Rhymes; Ahlberg Dog in the Playground.
Plainly the primary school teachers need incarcerating in special camps to be taught what poetry is. There they would have to learn by heart, Wordsworth, Daffodils; Shakespeare, the Phoenix and the Turtle; Stevens, The Rabbit as King of the Ghosts; Raleigh, The Passionate Man's Pilgrimage; Wyatt, They flee from me that sometime did me seek; Tennyson, Ulysses; Eliot: Song for Simeon; Pope, The Rape of the Lock; Auden, Like a Vocation; Keats, Ode to Autumn. All are entirely appropriate for primary school children, provoking, as they do, wonder, awe and longing.
While incarcerated, the teachers would also have to read and answer detailed questions on Kenneth Koch's Rose, Where Did You Get That Red?, the best book ever written on children and poetry. They would also have to write one thousand times, 'There is no such thing as children's poetry, there is only poetry.'
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 9:47 am