'Lightweight' poetry nudges out classics

Dec. 7, 2007 at 4:51 PM

LONDON, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Classic rhymes about tigers, daffodils and a rat-catcher are being pushed aside by lighter fare in British classrooms, the country's education watchdog said.

The Office for Standards in Education blamed poorly trained primary school teachers and their reliance on "lightweight" verse for the lack of poems that are "genuinely challenging," The Daily Telegraph reported Friday.

Only a "very small minority of schools" use poems such as "Daffodils" by William Wordsworth, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge or "The Pied Piper of Hamelin" by Robert Browning, the study said.

The office's inspectors quoted a survey indicating more than half of elementary school teachers couldn't name more than two poets.

"Many teachers, especially in the primary schools, did not know enough about poetry," the report said. " This sometimes leads to poor quality marking and a uniformity in practice, where the same few poems were studied across most schools. Although these poems were mostly worth studying, many of them were relatively lightweight ... ."

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