The webinar that I hosted as part of the Teaching and Learning Conversations was designed to introduce ways of using poetry in higher educational teaching. It was a really enjoyable webinar to host, as there was plenty of discussion and a passionate (and at times rapid) sharing of ideas. I had hoped that the webinar would help to demystify the use of poetry in the classroom, and that it would encourage people that poetry is a beautiful, thought-provoking and fun medium.
At the beginning of the webinar a couple of the participants expressed their apprehension and fear of poetry, especially in relation to analysing and writing poetry, but by using a simple analytical tool (based on the first verse of this Rudyard Kipling poem) everyone was soon very much engaged in pulling apart the following poem from the American Beat Poet Richard Brautigan:
At the California Institute of Technology
I don’t care how God-damn smart
these guys are: I’m bored.
It’s been raining like hell all day long
and there’s nothing to do.
There were some really interesting discussions in terms of how the poem made people feel, who they thought was writing it, and why they liked/disliked it. By the end of the discussion the participants were beginning to feel more comfortable with analysing poetry, and judging from their responses it was clear that they were making connections with their own experiences and learning journeys, which is exactly what poetry has the capacity to do!
After writing some fun acrostic poems for the TLC acronym there was a group discussion in which numerous suggestions for how to use poetry in a higher education setting were made. All of the contributions were innovative, but I particularly enjoyed the idea of using poetry to explore other people’s perspective, as this can be an extremely powerful tool and chimes with some of the wonderful work that Kirsten Jack is doing at Manchester Met with student nurses and poetry. I also really liked the suggestion of a lunchtime poetry club, which is something that I hope we can develop over the coming weeks for the higher education community, so watch this space!
By the end of the session I think that I had managed to convince the participants that poetry is anything but scary, and that it has the potential to really open up discussions amongst students, and can even help to develop engagement. A link to the webinar can be found below, and I encourage any ideas that come from engaging with it to be posted as part of the inspiring 101 Creative Ideas project run by Ellie Hannan and Chrissi Nerantzi.
You can watch the webinar in full here: http://mmu.adobeconnect.com/p6z1k3tk3rb/
|Dr Sam Illingworth Senior Lecturer in Science Communication, Manchester Metropolitan University
The Poetry of Science If Bowie were a Scientist