How to teach poetry to students?

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The technique of teaching Poetry is fundamentally different from the technique of teaching Prose. Whereas, a Prose-lesson is a Knowledge Lesson, a Poetry-lesson is an Appreciation Lesson. The aim of the former is to give knowledge; the aim of the latter is to provide aesthetic pleasure.

The prose-lesson is an occasion to teach and learn the language; the poetry-lesson is an occasion appreciates and enjoys the poem being taught and rendered by the teacher. The prose-lesson aims at teaching correct pronunciation, adding a few new words to the vocabulary of the pupils. The function of the poetry-lesson is not to teach language, but simply to enable the students to appreciate the beauty of words and the rhythm. The prose lesson provides intellectual food to the pupils, and aims at their mental and intellectual development; the poetry-lesson provides the emotional content and aims at the refinement of emotions. Prose-lesson sharpens the intellect of the students; poetry-lesson enhances the flight of imagination of the pupils.

What is Poetry

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It is not possible to define poetry in clear and final terms, because, like truth and beauty, it is an abstract term. A number of definitions of Poetry are being given below to give an idea about the real nature of Poetry :

1. “Poetry is metrical composition.” (Johnson)

2. “Poetry is musical thought.” (Carlyle)

3. “Poetry is the expression of imagination.”

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4. “Poetry is the expression of disturbed feelings recollected at a peaceful time.” (Wordsworth)

5. “Poetry is the expression of supreme words in a supreme form.”

(Coleridge)

6. “Poetry is the explanation of life through feelings and imagination.” (Hudson)

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7. “Poetry is at bottom the criticism of life.” (Mathew Arnold)

From the study and perusal of the above definitions, we can analyse and derive the following important characteristics of poetry.

Aims of Teaching Poetry

These are two types of aims of teaching poetry or more specifically, a poem has general aims and specific aims.

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General aims pertain to the teaching of poetry in general; and the specific aims are the aims of teaching a particular poem.

General Aims

1. To enable the pupils to be able to recite poetry in the proper manner giving expression to the emotions contained therein.

2. To develop interest of the students in poetry.

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3. To enable the students to derive aesthetic pleasure from poetry.

4. To develop the imaginative faculty of the students.

5. To acquaint the students with different styles of poetry.

6. To enable the students to critically evaluate poetry.

7. To inspire the pupils for writing poetry.

Specific Aims

1. To provide an opportunity to the pupils to appreciate and derive aesthetic pleasure from the poem being taught to them.

2. To enable the pupils to comprehend the central idea of the poem.

3. To enable the pupils to appreciate the message of the poet contained in the poem.

4. To enable the pupils to critically examine the value and standard of the poem.

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