Adults of a certain generation reading this are likely to remember memorising and reciting poetry at school themselves. Not as an extra-curricular project such as Poetry By Heart, but as a central part of the English curriculum. Some talk about these days with nostalgia, perhaps quoting a few memorable lines…others recall them with fear! Too often, rote learning produced robotic recitation. And so in the years since, this rote learning was replaced by teachers focusing on analysis of the poem as written text.
A Cambridge University study, launched in January 2014, is in the process of examining this landscape. The project, spearheaded by David Whitley and Debbie Pullinger, will contribute to the research-base of educational policy-makers, curriculum designers and teachers. The central question to be asked is what is the relationship between memorisation, recitation and understanding?
The project wants to explore a nation’s collective understanding of spoken poetry, and so is eager to get the nation involved. If this piques your interest you can take part in a survey here and make your voice heard! http://www.poetryandmemory.com/survey-1/