Published on 18 Apr 2024

ELL PhD student, Ow Yeong Wai Kit presents his research with the English department of the Singapore International School (Hong Kong)

ELL’s PhD student, Ow Yeong Wai Kit shared his research with the English department of the Singapore International School (Hong Kong) on 15 April 2024 via Zoom. As he shared, memorised poetry constitutes a vital repository that enhances the quality of individuals’ lives. There has also been growing interest in learning poetry by heart, as demonstrated by the contemporary revival of interest in poetry recitation competitions, apps, and publications. Yet in what ways could historical practices of poetry memorisation inform contemporary classroom contexts to motivate deeper interest in poetry? Wai Kit shared the preliminary results of his qualitative study, which draws upon the results of a national online survey, in-depth oral history interviews with pioneer poet-teachers, as well as national and school archives. Members of the English department also had a lively discussion about the role of traditional, canonical texts in comparison with contemporary Singaporean texts in the English / Literature classroom. As the teachers reflected, learning poetry by heart could be incorporated as a means to promote envisionment-building and re-ignite the joy of learning of poetry for students. At the same time, challenges such as classroom time constraints and the necessity of meeting multiple pedagogical objectives would need to be taken into consideration. Through careful text selection and pre-planning, English / Literature teachers can strive not just to 'cover' the syllabus but to 'uncover' it, so that students can rediscover elements of joy and wonder in literary experience, including by learning poetry by heart.

Picture 1 - Sharing with SIS-HK by Ow Yeong Wai Kit