13 April 2012

Connecting Poetry and Experience

An exciting day of exploring and hiking at Mammoth Cave with 100 curious fifth graders leaves me thinking about the poem which awaited me in my inbox last Monday morning. Robert Frost by George Bilgere was listed in the The Writer’s Almanac on Sunday, April 8th. My friend sent it to a bunch of teacher friends, and he included me in the group of people to receive the poem, fitting given that I spent spring break musing on my teaching days. I related well to the essays stacked on the table waiting to be assessed and evaluated and the Sunday evening blues that sometimes crowd the thoughts of an overworked teacher. 

Now, you might be asking—what does a poem about teaching and Robert Frost have to do with a cave in Kentucky? Perhaps it’s the notorious ambiguity of Frost’s poems and the stories we heard today on the historical tour. Perhaps it’s the differences between the learning experiences referenced in the poem and those of the 100 fifth graders today. Which student would you rather be—the one writing an essay about ambiguity in Frost’s poems or the one exploring a 4000 year old cave?
Thought to be the largest cave in the world, with over 350 miles of interconnected passages, Mammoth Cave’s rich history includes uncertainty about the real reasons Stephen Bishop led adventurous expeditions in the cave. To learn more about this uncertainty, next on my poetry reading list is Ultima Thule by Davis McCombs.