Belfast Telegraph

Friday 30 January 2015

Lines on why children need poetry

I'm not usually one to defend Michael Gove - indeed I've been known to shrivel up and die at the very sight of him.

But I agree with his prioritising spelling and grammar, as well as learning chunks of poetry by heart, in schools.

Many have accused Gove's emphasis on these things as being out of touch and elitist, but it's not remotely elitist to want all children to have a grasp of the things which allow them to communicate properly.

This way, deeper relationships are formed, innate intelligence is more easily conveyed and less privileged children are likely to be able to secure good jobs and university places. As for poetry, there is nothing which helps one unlock the mysteries and hidden powers of the best verse like cultivating an understanding of the mental influence of rhythm. You need to say it out loud, again and again, to feel its truth. It's not called 'by heart' for nothing.

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