"That's So Gay!": Rethinking Writing Poetry in an All Male Secondary Classroom

Mrs. Amy Corso
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In the secondary classroom, encouraging the student to express himself honestly and creatively in a classroom can be an exciting and memorable aspect within the academic experience. As a female English teacher in all male school, I have discovered the process of teaching creative writing is to be difficult and complicated. In particular, some adolescent boys may have exaggerated fear because to use emotive language within an all male environment is often viewed as "girly" or "gay." Some male students who enjoy English may be hesitant to participate or to do well because language arts are viewed as more feminine.

In addition, the two obstacles that inhibit this creative growth, the fear of failure and the fear of expression, can be reduced or eliminated by teaching students to write translytic poetry. To remove the fear of failure, a teacher must eliminate a grade that is based on the quality of the work. To remove the fear of expression, a teacher can instruct students to write translytic poetry. The poet, Joel Lipman, invented the term translytic that means "across cutting or loosening." A translytic poem interprets a pictogram or a foreign text on the basis of the image itself. The poem should not serve as a literal translation and should encourage the poet to derive meaning from what they consider meaningless.

Lipman's poetry provides a practical solution to the problem of expression. When students are presented with a visual image and with a task of "translation" this provides a sense of safety in the writing process. The original piece, which serves as a writing prompt, does not belong to the student. The distance the student has from the original text decreases the fear of expression

Keywords: Teaching, Writing, Poetry, Single Gender Education, All Boys School, Secondary Education, Creative writing, Pedagogy, Adolescent male, Adolescent boys
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: "That's So Gay!"

Mrs. Amy Corso

Teacher, English Department of English University of Massachusetts/Boston , Xaverian Brothers High School

Amy Corso graduated from Boston University with a Bachelors of Arts in English in 1995. She is currently pursuing in Masters of Arts in Literature at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. In April of 2004, Amy was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to participate in the Summer Seminars for School Teachers on "Balzac and Zola: Esthetics and Ethics in the Novel." Also, Amy was awarded fellowship to the Boston Writing Project. She is a member of the National Council of Teachers of English. Amy is a former member of Willing Suspension, a repertory theatre company devoted to the performance of "forgotten" works of restoration drama at the Boston Playwrights Theatre. Currently, she teaches English to Freshmen and Sophomores at Xaverian Brothers High School – an all boys school – in Westwood, MA. Her paper will focus on the challenges of teaching poetry and the necessary innovation in single gendered classroom.

Ref: L05P0255