The Academy of American Poets has been working for years to broaden public interest in and access to American poetry. In terms of publishing, poetry is one of the hardest genres to have success in. Poem-a-Day was started in 2006 and now reaches an audience of more than 300,000 people. This program releases one new poem every weekday that was written by a previously unpublished writer looking to share their experiences. They are working to connect people across the country despite social standing, personal identity, or circumstance.
Now, their program is taking even more steps towards teaching school-age children the value of poetry. Teach This Poem, curated by Dr. Madeleine Fuchs Holzer, makes lesson plans, materials, and resources available to primary and secondary school teachers across the States that focus on different concepts within poetry. Teachers can choose themes and activities that will peak their students’ interests and encourage them to be more creative.
There is an incredible amount of pressure to stress “practical” studies in today’s society. Math and science are being consistently taught as inherently ‘more valuable’ to children’s educations and futures, while the arts are steadily losing funding. This sends the message that if a child has a natural talent for the creative arts, that talent will be less useful in terms of providing a stable future. Perhaps the most troubling aspect of this is that children will feel ashamed for not succeeding as naturally in a “practical” subject and feel that their creative abilities are less valuable.
The Academy of American Poets begs to differ. They are encouraging primary and secondary teachers — the people who are shaping our youth and nurturing their potential — to emphasize the importance of creativity in the classroom. By providing educators with easy access to the materials they need, it is an opportunity for teachers to show students who may not consider themselves to be particularly creative that they possibility are.
Teach This Poem is encouraging the development of creative minds alongside the more “practical” subjects because the founders of the project feel that both are valuable and necessary skills. The program reminds us that every mind is different and that there are subjects that should be in the curriculum that are simply getting overlooked. Teach This Poem offers a backbone to allow students to explore and share their creative identity in a way that they may otherwise not have access to.
If you’re a primary or secondary teacher, you can sign up now via this link to have these materials sent to you by email after September 2nd.
If you’re not a teacher, but would like to support the Academy of American Poets and their mission, you can follow this link to become a member and/or donate to their foundation.
**Originally published by me via The Witty Agent on August 24, 2015.