Performance: Humanizing the Classroom

On this course with Adrian Underhill we are preparing a poetry festival for the last class. Each day we start each session with a poem read by Adrian or another student.

I confess when I first read this on the course description I was a little wary. I love poetry but was unsure about its place in the classroom. It appeared to me perhaps as a bit of a throwback to those 70s EFL texts I was so obsessed with when I started out as an idealistic 19 year old – Mario Rinvolucri, Pilgrim’s, NLP in the classroom etc. All these years on I guess I’ve become more cynical and jaded.

BUT it’s been a revelation! The poetry choices each student makes are so varied. Participants have chosen funny poems and touching ones, everyday poems and grand, sweeping, profound poems, poets of different nationalities, backgrounds and dialects. And it seems to me this borrowing of someone else’s words is sharing something in the classroom which a student has complete control of. The student decides whether, what and how they share and it gives space for a deeper, humanistic element to develop in a class without unwanted or uncomfortable exposure.

Of course, it isn’t necessary to stick to poems, any text would do, but the poetry is a real treat.

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