|On Teaching seminar will be Thursday|
The next "On Teaching" seminar of the semester, “Poetry as a Tool for Teaching Across the Disciplines,” will take place Thursday, Dec. 3, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in the Red River Valley Room of the Memorial Union.
When faculty think of asking their students to write in their classes, it is fair to say that poetry is probably not the first thing they think of. Given the challenges of assigning and responding to writing, shouldn't faculty ask students to write academic prose, or, at the very least, expository writing, not poetry?
Poetry offers at least three advantages over other types of academic writing. First, the act of writing poetry encourages students to develop a personal and emotional connection to the subject that they are studying. All too often, when writing, students go into auto-pilot and think that their only job is to figure out what the teacher wants and give it to them. But, when writing poetry, students are forced to shut off the automatic pilot. In addition, when students are asked to write poetry in their classes they learn to find fresh insights into their learning as well as imaginative and innovative ways to communicate that learning with others.
Second, most poems are short; and, because of this brevity, it is easy to find a way to integrate them into class activities. It takes only seconds to read a student written poem out loud, yet the poem might bring up important issues about the course content. Finally, because of this brevity, poetry requires the writer to pay close attention to physical, textual, or other details. This attention to detail is an important skill throughout the academy. And the ability to write a poem about one of these details that, for instance, compares electron transport to riding in a cab, as one student did in a biology class, demonstrates the ability to exercise the important skills of both creative and critical thinking in one very short piece of writing.
In this seminar, participants will learn about haiku, a short and simple form of imagistic poetry with three lines of just seventeen syllables, as an example of poetry that has been used as a tool for learning in a variety of disciplines. Haiku is easy to learn and easy to teach; if a person can count to seventeen, they can write a haiku. Yet, the brevity of haiku is only one of its virtues. A wide variety of poets, from Matsuo Basho to Richard Wright have written haiku simply to improve their own powers of observation. Perhaps the act of writing poetry might also help our students improve their powers of observation as well.
Please register by noon Tuesday, Dec. 1, to attend and reserve a lunch. Visit the Office of Instructional Development online (www.und.edu/dept/oid) to register. For information call Jana Hollands at 7-4998 or email email@example.com
-- Scott J. Baxter, coordinator, university Writing Program, firstname.lastname@example.org, 777-6381