In today’s blog I thought I would share some of the amazing work on poetry that English teachers did at our last conference. The conference was in memory of our good friend and colleague Morlette Lindsay who had a passion for poetry (and hailed from South Africa). Thus the poetry shared below is all inspired by the exhibition on South Africa recently held at the British Museum. The work shop was run by the wonderful Joanna Brown who works with Africa Writes Education and Film Africa working with the annual African literature and film festivals to inspire young writers. I also considered some of the interesting conversations we had on the day.
Igniting the flame
In this work shop we were given postcards of paintings and artifacts from the museum and were asked to write a poem based on a postcard of our choice. As well as sharing our work we had a lengthy discussion about how museums can inspire curiosity. The previous post to this one LATE was encouraging you to use London as a resource for your teaching and the PGCE students from Kings College came up with some really innovative ideas about what the places can be used for and how children might interact with them.
What came out of the Igniting the flame work shop was a discussion about how young people (a) feel they should interact with museums, galleries and other cultural spaces like theatres and (b) how they actually want to interact. Arguably, writing poetry based on a misunderstanding of the purpose of an object found in a museum might seem like a misuse of the museum’s resources; however, as Joanna and Jen Wilkinson showed us, the work created from that slight misunderstanding can be beautiful. If you are interested in further reading on this topic I recommend Theatre and Museums by J. Jenkins who has concisely written about the performative elements of culture, museums and galleries and how the public and cultural spaces are changing the way they invite people to interact with exhibits. The book is about the move away from cataloging objects and chronological information towards more interactive and creative ways of presenting and using information.
A selection of our writing (more in the featured image if you’d like to read)
Below are links to a fantastic scheme of work written by Lindsay Home, currently a teacher at Parliament Hill School for Girls. She developed the resources for her scheme of work and gathered the wonderful examples for the presentation, whilst working at an international school in the Netherlands. Her varied experiences inspired her to draw on the vast range of cultural experiences her students had in her teaching of poetry. Basing her scheme of work around that idea ties in wonderfully with the sentiment of LATE and this particular conference. As Harold Rosen so rightly said: The content of the curriculum which the teacher brings to the classroom must respect and incorporate the culture, language and experience which the learner brings there.