My daughter turned 14 years of age earlier this year and as with many students in the high school years, her days are very full. Besides her lessons at home, she is studying the cello at a level which requires about 6 hours of practice per week and she swims in a competition squad for 8 hours a week. From what I’ve observed, many other home educated children are in similar circumstances with a variety of similar or other commitments.
So why include the study Poetry? What use is it? Isn’t it one of those ‘enrichment’ subjects that aren’t really necessary; just a fancy add on and reserved for those kids who are into that type of thing?
Something to consider:
‘…your days are long and crammed with obligation and information and technology. You are at risk for thinking that this is knowledge. Poetic knowledge insists that beauty and truth can’t be separated. It reminds us that the rational alone will not take us to full knowledge and that we should be astonished by what is true.’
The Art of Poetry is a Poetry Curriculum but what it also does admirably is to give a beautifully articulated defence for the need of poetry in our lives, no matter what our age.
‘Poetry acknowledges something deep within our nature…’
This curriculum was written for students in the 7th to 10th Grade and includes an anthology of 39 poems from well-known and lesser known poets.
There are 16 Chapters each having a short anthology of poems with a variety of discussions questions, followed by an activity section and quiz at the end of the chapter. The activity section has a wide scope of options for students. My daughter loves drawing and enjoyed some of the more creative ideas for mixing poetry with art. Students who prefer writing, reciting, or acting, will also find plenty of ideas here.
There are three main sections in the text:
1) Elements of Poetry – eight chapters discussing Images, Metaphor, Symbols, Word, Sound, Rhythm, Shape, and Tone.
2) The Formal History of Poetry – seven chapters covering the History of Form, Verse Forms, Shaping Forms, A Case Study in Form, Open Verse, A Case Study in Open Verse, and Narrative Poems.
3) Application – a section on growing your interest in poetry with suggestions such as starting a poetry group, finding mentors, and a range of other ideas.
Three Appendices include short biographies of the poets covered in The Art of Poetry; planning ideas, a glossary of terms, bibliography, timeline, and quizzes.
A few timetable options are suggested: an intense month long unit; spreading the curriculum out over the year – two sections per month; or expanding it out over several years.
‘Educating the imagination is an important aspect of studying poems.’
* A good variety of poems are studied
* The chapter introductions are just beautifully written (the quotations in this post were taken from the text)
* There is an emphasis on reciting and memorisation
* The activities have a mixture of analytical and creative suggestions
* The course is taught by a poet who obviously loves her subject
* It is very adaptable and could also be used for Mother Culture!
* There is so much content in this curriculum that it could overwhelm at first sight. In fact, the author specifically says in her introduction not to let it do this.
* Depending on the student, they may not be ready for the more analytical aspects of the curriculum.
If a student hasn’t had much exposure to poetry before, I’d suggest concentrating more on appreciating the various poems the author presents, reading them aloud, and covering the section ‘The Elements of Poetry.’
The author reminds us that poetry can communicate before it is understood. Keeping that in mind takes the pressure off so that we can enjoy studying aspects of poetry and return to a lesson later on to look at it in a more analytical way.
Appendix C has a simplified plan on Page 252 that summarize some practices to help initiate you into the world of poetry.
For those following a Charlotte Mason method of education, I’m using this in Year 9 of Ambleside Online.
Classical Academic Press kindly provided me with a free copy of The Art of Poetry Curriculum for review purposes and what I wrote above is my honest opinion.
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