Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Poetic Inspiration

It's been awhile since I've posted last...but the topic of this post has been calling to me for a few weeks now....

I say the poet Naomi Shihab Nye at the recent Colorado Language Arts Society Spring Conference. She was an inspiration - a humble one, which made her even more inspiring. Her poems were intriguing, heartbreaking, and amusing. And, while they were an important part of her presentation, I was more struck with her commentary on human beings. We are at the point in our lives where many cultures are being "forced" to get to know each other. However, we often get acquainted via news reports or word of mouth stereotypes. Poetry is one way, Nye suggested, that we get to really know our fellow humans. Many poems she read were about issues that were universal, even though they were based on people in the Middle East. With each poem, she inspired me to continue to promote beauty and creativity in the classroom. It is what we do as teachers, no matter the content area or age that we teach. Beauty and creativity are universal languages. She urged us, through her poems, to let our students know this.

It got me thinking as I left the reading, and much since then, about what I can do in my classroom. Technology has gifted us with a miraculous tool - the Internet. Nye mentioned how high schools in Australia are requiring their seniors to read and reflect on a blog from an Iraqi in order to graduate. I hear the debate about graduation requirements often, some of which include the requirement to perform some amount of volunteer work. But this idea has consumed me since I heard Nye speak three weeks ago. What a wonderful way to bring technology into the classroom, but to also spark some thought within the generation that we are educating. Knowledge is power - a cliche, I know, but a true one. Giving the gift of cultural knowledge is a powerful thing.

I'd like to hear about suggestions on blogs or other ideas so that I may begin to incorporate this into my own classroom.

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