How I am including Poetry in my homeschooling day

31st August, 2012 - Posted by Christine Perrin - No Comments

We are classically homeschooling our 15 year old son this year (my husband Christopher Perrin, my father Gordon Zubrod, and I). This change creates the usual kid in a candy shop situation–so many great things to study and read how do we choose? High on our priority list is teaching time management and the ordering of the day so it was very important to us to choose the right amount of material to include and not load up with too many GREAT things. Noah is strong in literature and loves it, but we need to do other subjects too. You might think that this situation calls for us to eliminate poetry which seems, to some people, an extra. Instead, we are finding that poetry fits very nicely with every subject we are teaching. Poetry quickens our attention, our senses, it makes us alert to language, to images. We approach history differently when we dwell in the world created by a poet of that period (easy example: Whitman writing about Lincoln’s death–there is no textbook writing that fully allows you to enter the experience like “When Lilacs in the Dooryard Bloom’d”). WE approach Science and our nature journal differently when we have read The Fish, The Armadillo, by Elizabeth Bishop and The Wild Iris by Louise Gluck paired with Annie Dillard’s essay on Seeing (Pilgrim at Tinker Creek). We will travel through Germany differently after reading Czeslaw Milosz on the experiences he had in that part of the world in the bloody 20th century, poems like Dedication, Prayer, Late Ripeness, Camp di Fiori. Did I mention Rhetoric class? We are reading Aristotle’s Rhetoric and Poetics and then we are immersing ourselves in poems. We mustn’t forever talk about things but also do them, practice them, dwell in them.

Poetry is helping us in this endeavor–not only paying attention but learning to dwell on the significance of the things that have happened that are happening, feeling what it is like to climb inside another mind and another and to compare how differently they see the world and find a language for it, find images for it. Would you like to join us? Even a poem a week is exceedingly valuable–read it aloud several times with several voices, memorize it, think about it out loud together, come back to it, use it to characterize an experience of yours, find another poem that approaches the same ideas, images, but with a totally different angle.

Here are some poets and books of poetry we are reading:
The Collected Poems by Czeslaw Milosz
The Collected Poems by Elizabeth Bishop
The Wild Iris by Louise Gluck
Native Guard by Natasha Tretheway (Poet Laureate)
The Collected Poems by Richard Wilbur
The Collected Poems by George Oppen
The collected Poems by Galway Kinnell

Whitman
Dickinson
Hughes
Frost
Williams (William Carlos)

Also consider reading:
Seeing by Annie Dillard
The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry V. I and II

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