Archive for October 15th, 2012

by lizard

Dorothea Lasky has a great article titled What Poetry Teaches Us About the Power of Persuasion at The Atlantic. Here’s a snip:

The 60 students waiting patiently to get into one creative writing section at an elite private college where I taught loved writing poetry. The 2 year olds I used to teach over a decade ago in a wealthy day care loved poetry, too. Even in their pre-writing state, they recited poem after poem for me, and I wrote each one down for them to then illustrate. At an underserved elementary school, I read Merwin, Sexton, and Whitman poems out loud, and the 5 year olds in in the class loved to bounce around the rhythms and the sing-songy rhymes, along with the slanted ones. It was the music of poetry that they loved. The music of poetry is a delight for the mind.

A lot of people argue that poetry is “difficult” or that it has no real value for children’s future. That’s just not true. If you think poetry isn’t important to your students, you are not listening to them. You are not noticing the headphones in their ears, blasting poetry to soothe their walk to class. You are not thinking of them in their rooms at night, writing down their experiences. It may be that you are defining poetry too dogmatically.

Great children’s books are pure poetry, and my kids love it. For awhile now my oldest son has been mimicking his dad writing poems by typing strings of letters on my computer, and we practice reciting poems into the microphone mommy makes daddy keep in the garage.

During one of these garage sessions my son was making up titles to his poems. This week’s poetry series is simply two of his titles because, though I’m obviously biased, I think they’re brilliant. Enjoy!




—William Skink’s 4 year old son

by lizard

How do you say “I’m sorry that bomb blew up your wedding party” in Pashto?

Thanks to a contract from the Department of Defense, the University of Montana’s Critical Language and Cultural Program is one of the few places you can learn dialects like Pashto and Dari. That program, as reported in today’s Missoulian, is currently flourishing.

“The bottom line is, we’ve grown to become the best language and cultural course in the U.S.,” said Donald Loranger, director of the program. “We’ve broadened our base to include other languages – Korean and Arabic – and we’re the school of choice for people who want to get fluent, which you need to do to win and the hearts and minds of people.”

Loranger regurgitates the premise of counterinsurgency in this article like our media regurgitates propaganda (poorly edited, I might add, unless the director of a language program can’t speak English well).

After completing this nationally renowned program, will students be able to explain to Afghanis in their own language why we’ve invaded and occupied their country for 11 years? Hell, it would be fantastic if Americans could get a coherent explanation in English about why we have so many resources deployed in Afghanistan instead of the morphing rationales we’ve been handed during this last decade.

The focus is beginning to shift, as Loranger points out in another quote:

“As Pashto declines in its importance, and it hasn’t yet, we’ll have to be positioned to do other things,” Loranger said. “We started up our Korean program, and there’s more emphasis on Dari. We hope to do Chinese down the road.”

Yes, let’s do Chinese down the road. Maybe I’ll give my kids a head start. Anyone know of any Mandarin immersion programs for 4 year olds?

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