I saw this quotation in a news item today:
Politicians when they are in campaign mode… tend to campaign in poetry, in simple terms and high-level messages.
When you get into office you have to govern in prose … and face a very serious reality check.
I was fascinated by the juxtaposition of poetry and prose in this quotation. It prompted me to think about how teachers and coaches create their learning opportunities and the language they use to mobilise interest and engagement.
My work has been profoundly influenced by the approach taken by Miller Mair. Three decades ago (link), he observed that he used “a story telling approach which attends more to our ‘acts of telling’ than to particular methods by which we ‘get the facts straight’, He added “Every telling is a composition with personal intentions. Every telling is partial, suffused with personal interest”.
Miller has a clear sense of what poetry is to him “By poetry I do not mean short lines on a page that may or may not rhyme. I am referring to an approach to living that involves imaginative fluency rather than conventional solidity. I am referring to being able to hear with new ears, see with fresh eyes, and becoming able to speak with imaginative directness, telling it like it feels and is right now”.
I sense that this imaginative fluency is quite different to the short bites of a political campaign. I was also fascinated by Miller’s approach to poetics. He stressed “the importance of a poetic approach in psychology and psychotherapy, and the need to explore and understand the nature of psychology through an imaginative freedom of language”. He emphasised too that “a poetic awareness and attentiveness is fundamental to any pursuit of understanding of ourselves or others” (link).
This relationship between experience and story-sharing has been an important guide for me in my practice and my thinking about practice in teaching and coaching. Today’s alert to poetry and prose has set me off on another journey.