Sunday, October 26, 2008

I Have to Teach It

"There is no point in teaching poetry; most kids don't even like it. I have to teach it because it is in the curriculum. I would much rather not have to teach it, but in order to get paid for this section I have to teach it."
Mr. Pittsford, my seventh grade daughter's English teacher

I am speechless. I don't even know how to begin to respond.

If he hates poetry, then of course the kids will too. My experience in teaching is that almost all of the kids loved poetry. We used poetry in every single class, and they loved it. Some of them still come up to me at church and elsewhere and recite pieces of Shakespeare or Poe.

I am very glad that Lilly is beginning to love poetry, despite her teacher's lack of enthusiasm.


J. Andrew Lockhart said...

GASP!!! I can't believe a teacher actually said that - especially an English teacher.
My school (elementary K-4) had a guest a couple of weeks ago who spent days teaching them about poetry and writing. He went to all of the schools in Van Buren and then they had something called a "poetry slam" - different students read out loud their poems and it ended up as a winner from each school. I wasn't able to go, but I heard it was a lot of fun.
This guy needs to go to your town!
(or at least spend some time with this teacher!)
Take care,

Doug P. Baker said...

I would love to be the one going around and doing that!

Actually, the school did have a guest in who stopped in my daughter's class and talked about her love of poetry. That was when my daughter's teacher seems to have decided to argue, and thus the quote.

No, nobody who can say that should be teaching English!

Devika said...

new here...:-)
but as always the case with me, i may take my space -- and not a small one, i should say...

i remember my shooldays...the English teacher came ..WW's Daffodils was the poetry...she made the girl who got the most deep and beautiful sound in the class read it loud...i remember i fell in love with WW..was in VII grade...

But, as normal may be for that age, when the teacher started with: 'Let me explain'....i sat there looking out through the window...uninterested..

then later in the teacher's room, she said...'see Devika, you got a flair for should be listening to the class as well' its great to know these poets...

then i started learning poetry, poets....

now looking back -- i feel the teacher was right, and so right was i not to listen to the class...

poetry lies in the reader, as beauty lies in eyes of the beholder, i think..

but I always tank my teacher..Her name was Tina Anglo India..

thank you Doug, for those memories :-)

i know my post 'I'm Born Again' got you some from your old days...

so now its a deal...will visit again! :-)


Devika said...

oh my, i went wrong with her was Jega Jacob...

the other is my another favourite teacher, who taught me in college..

ps: memory rusting!

Rosa said...


What person who has an ounce of passion could hate poetry?

I hope that your daughter becomes a great lover of poetry, in spite of this unfortunate episode!

Doug P. Baker said...


You had a wise teacher to take the time to tell you that "it's great to know these poets." And I'm glad that you remember your debt to her!

Poetry is part of our home life, so Lillyanna is rather sad to have to sit in a classroom with a teacher who doesn't love his subject.

In honor of your first visit, here is the poem you mention. Wordsworth is brilliant! I adore Tintern Abbey. I don't think I've posted any of his before so I'm glad you give me this opportunity.


I WANDER'D lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch'd in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed -- and gazed -- but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Doug P. Baker said...


Amen and amen!

She is just beginning to really enjoy some poetry. In the past she has been willing to listen as I read poems to her, and she learned a few from her sisters. Now she is beginning to take joy in learning some on her own.

A few days ago a poem was mentioned in class and she blurted out, "I know that one!" To the amazement of the teacher and her fellow students she recited the whole thing on the spot. The whole class cheered when she got done, so I can't think they dislike poetry as much as the teacher thinks they do.

So I have hopes that this teacher will not turn her off on poetry, though he may well turn her off on school.

Devika said...

Oh Doug!

that was such a kind gesture and wonderful treat send me Daffodils verse from ardent lover of poetry. i just knew the first and last stanza..:-)

Lillyanna, i'm sure will leave that teacher to hher own pretty hell and love poetry...because, she is lucky to have father as you :-)

and then she will love you more :-)

sebastiao garcia said...

hey thanx for the comment, and i have to say i started readind from the age of 9 and i started writing my poems from the age of 14 my mum often tell that poetry chose me.

JD said...

Just standing up for Mr Pittsford a little, in the quote you give he doesn't actually say he hates poetry.

Doug P. Baker said...

JD, no he doesn't quite say that he hates poetry. I inferred that in part from the general tone of his words, and even more from the fact that he says the kids don't like it. It was my experience and I assume it to be a general rule that if the teacher loves a subject the students will also enjoy it.

Besides, he says that there is no point in teaching it, thus he must think it worthless. That is close enough to saying that he hates it for me.

Like too many teachers, he is just there to get paid, just taking care of his own burro. I had teachers like him and they make school tedious!