The All Pervasiveness of Poetry


The poetry of life cannot be confined in the walls of a classroom but does that mean that poetry should not be taught if children cannot be taken out to the open?

Mahesh Rastogi / Indore

Many of us have been taught things as beautiful as poetry within classrooms that looked more like jails than spaces for learning. It is ironic that we are taught about Paulo Freire’s dialogic education in the most non dialogic manner, we learn of the critique of modern day surveillance and the Panoptican of Foucault in classrooms where CCTV cameras haunt us from all angles, we learn about concepts of democracy and freedom in schools that exercise unrestrained controlled over their pupils and suppress the voice of their teachers.

Yes, our classrooms often represent a paradox and stand completely opposed to the liberatory and emancipatory ideas that our textbooks speak of.

You have raised a very important debate this week about the teaching of poetry in a closed classroom. To be frank when I went to school I hardly had any exposure to the real meaning of poems like the Solitary Reaper by William Wordsworth because all the examination demanded was a rote memory of its various lines and the notes on it that the teacher of the class would dictate. Later as I grew up and read poetry on my own, I could see what the expressions of many of these poets meant when I would myself go to hill-stations, near the ocean or look at the sky as the night grew dark-nature was always an integral component if poetic expression and the closed classroom robbed us of the treasure of poetry. I feel that teaching poetry is a very crucial task and even in circumstances where going on from the classrooms may not be possible, poetry should be taught.

In my own life trajectory I saw that though I was exposed to poetry in the most non-poetic way possible, it was that initial introduction to poetry that enabled me to come back to it afresh as an adult.


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