Poetry is a notoriously difficult concept. It is a highly challenging subject to teach, for its identity as an art form is constantly changing and being debated.
If top academics and those highly informed about the subject take issue with poetry, school pupils cannot be expected to fathom it. On December 7th, 2007, The Guardian, a British newspaper affiliated to the Left, noted that this ambiguous identity of poetry renders it very difficult to teach;”But until education theory asks itself what poetry itself is, and therefore what the teacher is trying to get across, poems will continue largely to figure as teaching aids, exercises and – for teenagers – increasingly tedious, somewhat arbitrary puzzles”.1
The canonised poets and their poetry are concerned with adult life experiences, e.g. love, life, work, history and politics, solitude, loneliness, etc. For this reason, widely acclaimed poetry is deep and requires an adult mind and mature emotional depth to understand, or at least draw something from, this famous poetry.
1 Sampson, Fiona, “Poetry is not a tool for teaching other things”, guardian.co.uk Books Blog, 7 December 2007, 1 September 2011
While great poetry may deal with adult experiences there is poetry that targets a younger audience and methods available to teach this type of poetry. Children’s poetry, for instance, is not complex or dark in subject matter and uses very regular rhythm and rhyme schemes, which young students will enjoy.
If age-appropriate poetry is taught in schools then it gives young people the chance to develop an appreciation for poetry and its various techniques. This means that in later years young people will have the skills necessary to properly understand great poetry.
Poems that require more mature minds to understand can, and should, be used to stretch students to teach about these contexts as well as about the kind of imagery and analogy used in the poems. Using more difficult poems to stretch pupils will ensure they keep improving.
Is Poetry a difficult concept to teach and/or to learn? State your reasons for or against this notion.