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Gervase Phinn Teaching Poetry in  the Primary School

When asked by the school inspector what he thought of poetry, an eleven year old replied that 'it's all la-di-da and daffodils, isn't it?' In his primary school the boy had come across very little poetry apart from nursery rhymes, snatches of rhyming verse and a few comic pieces and nonsense poems. Poetry to him was something arcane, not really related to his own life. He had studied no powerful, challenging, contemplative, arresting, quirky poems and had written very few poems himself. His teacher admitted that he was no English specialist, had received few ideas at college on the teaching of poetry and didn't really know where to start. As children progress through the primary school they need to be exposed to a rich diet of poetry and encouraged to read, perform and write it themselves. Providing a varied and stimulating environment is essential if is to flourish. In addition, children need specific guidance and ideas to start them off writing their own poems. This book, written by a former teacher and school inspector, and popular and widely published children's poet, offers an accessible, practical and structured programme for the teaching of this sometimes neglected aspect of the English curriculum.

# Paperback: 158 pages
# Publisher: Crown House Publishing (30 Jan 2009)
# Language English
# ISBN-10: 1845901304
# ISBN-13: 978-1845901301

Review on The Association of Christian Teachers website:

Rating: *****

This book is a must for every primary teacher, being the most comprehensive book on the teaching of poetry I’ve come across. Easy to use and attractively produced in a thick A4 format, it is worth every penny of its price, £19.99.

Phinn, a seasoned teacher, advisor, inspector of English and poet, covers a comprehensive range of different styles and themes in a useful framework. There are helpful introductions to each genre and how to teach it, samples of poems giving teachers a ready-made bank of material, and very extensive book lists.

He covers poetic genres such as miniature poems, patterned poems, limericks, clerihews (that was new to me), alphabet poems, acrostic poems, concrete poems, riddles, cautionary verse, conversation poems, poems from other cultures, poems from experience environmental poems, poems from poems, poems from paintings, myths and legends in poetry and poems of praise.

There are helpful sections on teaching infant and junior poetry, learning poetry and having poets in school. This book makes me want to go back into the classroom and get into poetry with the children. I enjoyed reading the poems myself – no dull analysis here.

By reading, following Phinn’s advice, the fear of teaching poetry will fly out of the window and restore poetry to its rightful place in the English curriculum, aiding topic work, helping develop spirituality through poetry and helping children produce their own praise and prayer poems for assemblies it is invaluable.

An excellent book, go and buy it!

Reviewer: Moira Kleissner, School Librarian and Teacher, Hillside County Primary School, Ipswich, Suffolk

Review posted on: 21 April 2010

Reading Matters! Reading Matters!

Reading Matters!

Touches of Beauty

Reading Matters

Some suggestions for selecting and teaching texts in The Literacy Hour

Reading Matters - book cover

Professor Gervase Phinn is a graduate of The University of Leeds, holds two Certificates in Education with distinction, a masters degree from The University of Sheffield and diplomas in Language Development and in Speech and Drama. He taught in a range of schools for fourteen years before becoming General Adviser for Language Development with Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council. In 1988 he was appointed Senior General Inspector/Adviser for English and Drama with North Yorkshire County Council and later became Principal Adviser for the County. He is now a freelance lecturer and writer. A consultant for The Open University course, Learning for Diversity, The Poetry Society and The Schools Curriculum and Assessment Council, he has for some twenty five years been a regular contributor to a variety of D.E.S., D.F.E. and O.F.S.T.E.D. courses and conferences and lectured widely in this country and abroad. Gervase Phinn is a Registered Inspector with O.F.S.T.E.D., trained to inspect primary, special and secondary schools and is Fellow and Visiting Professor of Education at The University of Teesside. He has published many articles in periodicals such as The Use of English, English in Education, The Times Educational Supplement, Spoken English, Remedial Education, The Art and Craft Magazine, Primary English, The Primary English Magazine, Language and Learning, Dance and Drama, The International Review of Children's Literature and Librarianship, The Yorkshire Dales Magazine and The Dalesman. He has contributed chapters to a range of academic texts including : Choosing Books for Young Readers in The Reading for Real Handbook (Kentledge) and Fiction in the Classroom in The English Teacher's Handbook (Hutchinson). His books on the teaching of fiction and poetry, The Vital Resource, Touches of Beauty and Habituated to the Vast have recently been reprinted. Gervase Phinn has contributed poems, stories and plays to many anthologies and has edited a number of text books including Five Themes for English (Longman), Sweet and Sour, Stage Write and Right on Cue (Collins) and Lizard Over Ice and The Turning Tide (Thomas Nelson). Additionally he has published collections of his own plays and stories and recently his anthology of poems, Classroom Creatures, has been reprinted. In March, 1998 his bestselling autobiographical novel The Other Side of the Dale was published by Michael Joseph and appeared as a Penguin paperback the following year. The sequel, Over Hill and Dale will appear in hardback in April, 2000. Television and radio appearances include: Esther (BBC2), Midweek (Radio 4), North East Tonight, (Tyne Tees Television), The BBC World Service, The Heaven and Earth Show (BBC2) and Just One Chance (BBC2). A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, he has a particular interest in children's reading and is widely know as a lively and entertaining speaker. He is married with four grown up children.

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Touches of Beauty

Teaching Poetry in the Primary School

Touches of Beauty - book cover
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