Pragmatic approaches to the selection and teaching of poetry in schools

  • Peter Onwudinjo Dept of English And Literary Studies University of Calabar, Calabar
Keywords: Approaches, Selection, Teaching, Poetry, Schools


How many people really like poetry enough to read some regularly through adulthood? The unsatisfactory teaching of poetry in schools may be the main cause why poetry is not read and enjoyed by many more adults than it is at present (1995).

C.W. Valentine (465-66). Valentine's (465-66) observations concerning the attitudes of British people towards poetry are even more true of Nigerians. According to Valentine, (466) statistical evidence from public libraries and public opinion surveys in Britain shows that not more than 3 percent of the reading public read poetry at all. If poetry is so unpopular in Britain despite its high rate of literacy, it is even more so in Nigeria with its high rate of illiteracy.

But the unpopularity of poetry does seem to arise not so much from the fact that Nigerians are largely illiterate as from the fact that Nigerian students at various levels of education are not sufficiently motivated and exposed to poetry at school to develop an enduring taste for it.

This paper analyses the problems that alienate students and teachers from poetry, and puts forward suggestions aimed at arresting further deterioration of students' interest in poetry, a situation that has so marginalized poetry in school and society that it (poetry) has come to be regarded, and actually referred to, as a ‘minority interest subject'.

To that end, this paper emphasizes the relevance of poetry in the school curriculum and in society at large. It also examines the social and pedagogical problems that marginalize poetry in the school system and offers what is considered pragmatic approaches to the selection of materials for and teaching of poetry in Nigerian schools, particularly secondary schools. The approaches suggested here are aimed at stimulating teachers and students' interest in poetry sufficiently for them to regard poetry not as a tedious subject to be avoided, but a pleasant and an enriching experience to be relished within and without the school system.

Key Words: Approaches, Selection, Teaching, Poetry, Schools.

Global Jnl of Humanities Vol.2(1&2) 2003: 38-44

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eISSN: 1596-6232