Pop videos can help with poetry

1st July 2005 at 01:00
In response to last week's front page lead story "Ditch poetry for pop videos" (TES, June 17), who exactly is calling for poetry to be "ditched"? No one, as far as I am aware.

What is happening, however, is that an increasing number of forward-thinking schools are coming to see media studies as not merely a valuable part of the curriculum, but as an entitlement.

Why? Labelling media studies a "Mickey Mouse" subject is nonsense. The subject enables young people to analyse and respond to the many media texts they meet each day.

Do we want our pupils to be confident and informed readers of the media, or inarticulate and passive in the face of its complexity?

Young people need the relevant skills to read the world around them; film, television, radio and digital media play an ever more dominant role in that world.

That the present high level of English literature entries has risen by 1 per cent would not appear to indicate that schools are abandoning poetry.

It, along with prose and drama, remains at the heart of the English curriculum, and will continue to do so.

In fact, increased uptake of media studies is far more likely to benefit English literature than detract from it.

Pupils arrive in secondary schools with highly developed visual literacy.

It makes absolutely no sense for teachers to ignore this.

Rather, we have both the opportunity and the obligation to enable those pupils to develop their reflective and critical abilities, so that they have the vocabulary and understanding truly to comprehend the texts that are so much a part of all our lives in the 21st century.

Caroline Mortlock

11-16 Committee National Association for the Teaching of English 10 Garden Place Kennington Ashford Kent

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