Monday, March 5, 2007

Hey, Teacher, leave those kids alone!

A thoughtful opinion piece at The Danforth Review by Dean Serravalle, a teacher and writer, on how teachers are accomplices in turning kids off reading.

I've done quite a few classroom reading/discussion sessions in high school, college and undergrad university classes and I have to say I've found the students on the whole very receptive to poetry--at least to my version of it--and often they ask penetratingly intelligent questions. One smart lad in Geoff Cook's college course pointed out something, in the form of a question, I hadn't quite realized about my writing: "Why are there so many references to alcohol in your poems?" After recovering from the initial shock of having a foible exposed in public--it took me longer than it might have normally, as Geoff and I had been out late the night before--I gave him a personalized version of the write-what-you-know axiom.

My experiences may well just be proof of what Saravelle is arguing. As a younger guy who writes a lot in an idiom familiar to younger people, my stuff would probably appeal more to such a crowd than poetry, no matter how good, with more formal or abstract diction and themes.

1 comment:

Jakie Hall said...

I think Serravalle's point is, as they usually are, completely true. I've seen the curriculum he has to work with and it desperatly needs work. I, as a student, definatly do not feel inspired to read outside of school by the exhausted articles the Ontario textbooks offer. I feel that the schoolboard should find some new up-to-date idea's for the textbooks in order to show teenagers that reading can open a whole new world and point of view to you other than the limited idea's the present articles show.