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The importance of poetry

Posted by Garry Collins, ETAQ President on 3 February 2014
  • The following letter was submitted for the edition of The Australian for Monday 3 February 2014 but it was not selected for publication.

I heartily endorse Kevin Donnelly’s central point that poetry is important (“Rhymes of the times: poetry’s still important”, 1-2/2).

Poetry was always a feature of the high school English programs that I taught over 35 years and, in recent times, at professional learning conferences for English teachers at state and national level, I have presented workshops on Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Tennyson’s The Lady of Shalott, Kipling’s Gunga Din and W.H. Auden’s Musee des Beaux Arts.

Early in his piece, Donnelly suggests that there are some who consider text messaging to be as important as poetry. I have yet to meet a classroom English teacher who thinks so.

However, this does not mean that contemporary forms of literacy – such as the sort of language used in text messaging – should merit no classroom consideration at all, even if only briefly and in passing.

Balance is one of the criteria specified in the Terms of Reference for the current review of the national curriculum. Could school English programs be said to be balanced if they focused solely on classic literature to the exclusion of all other forms of language?

Garry Collins, President, Australian Association for the Teaching of English

Author: Garry Collins, ETAQ President
Tags: Curriculum matters

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