GOOD NEWS STORY:
After working with The Red Room Company last year, Macquarie Fields High School is again working with poet Lachlan Brown. This time the project goes outside the Toilet Doors and into the Sydney Conservatorium, as students dabble in a bit of history and consider their namesake through the poetic lens.
The students are writing a poem in response to Governor Lachlan Macquarie’s First Speech in the Colony. This will be read at the unveiling of a new statue of Macquarie, which commemorates 200 years since his governing began. How exciting!
You can read more about Lachlan’s workshops with the Macquarie Fields ‘Live Poets Society’ (facilitated by @imeldajudge) at the Red Room Company blog. It is interesting to see how different students have thought about the themes in the Macquarie Poetry Project, and I think Lachlan’s workshop reflections also provide a great account of poetry pedagogy.
As a poetry teacher, the power of collaboration with working poets in these projects has been a an incredible experience. One of the most important things I learned from Lachlan was how to get more out of poetry by focussing in, taking it slow, encouraging personal interpretation and wonderment, and giving students time to write (which may sound obvious, but English lessons are so darn short!)
And the students have been awestruck by the experience of engaging in authentic discussion and receiving feedback from a real, live poet. Projects like these really do increase the sense of connectedness that students have with the curriculum, as they participate in intense thinking about words, about language work, and about the role of creativity in understanding the world around them. Students in my Year 10 class were also begging to learn more about the technical aspects of language so they could improve their poems (back to basics…I think not).
To read more about Lachlan Macquarie I recommend a brief speech given earlier this year by NSW Governor Marie Bashir. Macquarie’s endeavours to emancipate convicts and promote their employment and equal and fair treatment are a legacy I believe we should strive to uphold, and his support of education and poetry speak especially to my English-teaching soul! I can’t wait to see the poem created for the unveiling of the bicentenary statue 🙂