Teaching poetry in the sixth form: developing literary awareness (KS5)
For many students, poetry appears to be simply an examination hurdle rather than an art form that exists in a world of pleasure beyond the classroom; a puzzle to which ‘the right answer’ must be found rather than a rewarding aesthetic experience. Additionally, students’ search for meaning in poetry often focuses almost exclusively on understanding the imagery of a poem and the way this contributes to its narrative or argument, rather than on broader aspects of the poet’s craft – for instance form and tone – and the way these help to shape meaning. Formulaic approaches to the study of poetry at GCSE have not been helpful in changing students’ attitudes and experiences.
This workshop explores some ways in which we might begin to break down these barriers in the sixth form classroom by looking at poetry through the lens of art, and considering what poetry is actually for, as well as some ways in which we might help students to get into the mind of the poet and understand the poet’s ‘bag of tricks’.
Gary Snapper is Editor of NATE’s magazine Teaching English. A former Head of English, he has taught A Level and IB English for over 30 years, and is Curriculum Tutor for PGCE and Masters students at the University of Oxford.
This session is part of the National Association for the Teaching of English (NATE) strand