Poetry lovers fear its role in schools is in decline

Friday, May 16, 2014

In the state that was home to Emily Dickinson and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, where Edgar Allan Poe was born and where Robert Frost died, critics of new national education goals fear that poetry will become an endangered pursuit.

The alarm is being sounded by the conservative Pioneer Institute, a Boston think tank better known for its white papers lamenting public pension abuses than for its love of the sonnet. But Pioneer has also focused its ire on the Common Core teaching standards promoted by the Obama administration, saying they threaten state and local autonomy and the teaching of verse to schoolchildren.

“We do not read poetry so that we can write better office memoranda later on,” declared a recent institute report. “We want instead fully realized human beings who will read poetry because it is beautiful and because it brings us knowledge of what is true, even if it is knowledge that can no more be used than a sunset or a kiss can be used.”

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