Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Pure Poetry

Ryo reads for class

Bailey is a tall boy--he's lanky and blond, athletic, much smarter than he pretends to be--you know, with that charming kind of Tom Sawyer smugness, a gleam in his eye that speaks of mischief and a natural disinclination to work too hard should he miss out on any fun--he came to me this morning, tripping over his sentences.

"I wrote like eight poems last night! I had this--this--this brain thing--"
"Brain blast?" I supply, thinking of Jimmy Neutron.
"Yes! I wrote from eight o'clock to ten o'clock!"
"All right!" I high-five him. 
He continues, "It was so--so--I don't know--will I get extra credit?"
For writing eight poems in two hours on your own volition? "Of course."

What I really wanted to say was that my heart was swelling inside my chest, filling with little deserved pride. How came he hence? He was perhaps a reluctant writer at the beginning of the year--but not this teeming mind, beating with a seemingly sourceless passion for things he once knew not of.

We are knee-deep in our poetry section, and I have thus far taught them the rudiments, but the tipping point was most assuredly my lesson on iambic pentameter, (I have heard Eduardo chant "Da-DUM-da-DUM-da-DUM-da-DUM-da-DUM" down the hall) and to truly make them understand the swing and force of it, I assigned them a four sentence poem in iambic pentameter for homework. I myself know there is nothing like rolling up the metaphoric sleeves to spend an evening wrestling with the crocodiles of language, combating the sinewy strength and muscular bounce of rhyme and rhythm, but my students did not; and amidst cries of "But it's so hard, Ms. Gabriel!" and my own indifferent "It's supposed to be, dear student," a new thrill pierced through the shadowy minds of a few.

"Who thought this was hard?" I question.
All hands go up.
"Who thought this was fun?"
The hands descend like dying swans, except for Celine, except for quiet Nedavius. His hand remains in the air, a shy smile directed at his desk.
"Who thought about words in a new way?"
A few reluctant hands rise at half-mast, flickers of smiles from Deaven, from Bailey. Ah, to taste the sweet delight of challenge.

Bailey is still a tall boy--he's lanky and blond, athletic, much smarter than he pretends to be, and now surprised by the joy of mastering something new. And is that not what we want to teach? A joy of learning, a trying-on-your-own, a going-beyond-the-homework that lasts long after the grade has been given?

1 comment:

Elaine said...

SUCH a good feeling! Yay poetry and language and learning! Good job, Ms Gabriel. ^^