Even if you’re not a student, teacher, or parent, this time of year may still elicit fond (and perhaps not so fond) memories of going back to school. Many of us have experienced excitement about connecting with old friends, making new friends, beginning new classes, exploring new topics, learning from new teachers, and buying shiny new school supplies. It’s also a great time to think about teaching haiku in some way, shape or form. Perhaps you’re already teaching haiku to children or adults in a classroom setting. There are also many other venues that may lend themselves to the promotion and teaching of haiku. Perhaps you are already teaching haiku to seniors, campers, or prisoners. Let’s keep thinking of new ways to spread the word.
The Haiku Foundation has posted a rich selection of education resources that can be found on the “Education Wall.” The offerings start with an organized set of unified introductory lesson plans for kindergarten through higher education created by THF President Jim Kacian and Ellen Grace Olinger, Ed.D. The K-6 lessons focus on haiku awareness, reading, and writing, and utilize excellent contemporary English-language haiku, many of which are from THF’s Montage: The Book, edited by Allan Burns. (Using strong haiku as “mentor texts” is important in teaching any kind of poetry.) The lessons for junior high, high school, and higher education are “haiku introductions.”
This formal series of lessons is followed by a handful of more specific lesson plans submitted by junior high teacher Tom Painting and myself (I’m an elementary grades teacher). Tom’s lessons include four “Haiku Challenges,” including writing one about a flamingo! There are also a few very useful “lesson plans for students of any age” by accomplished haiku poets and teachers Penny Harter, William J. Higginson, and George Marsh. The resources listed also include links to haiku anthologies that you can use in your own lessons and workshops. The Education Wall already has many valuable lessons and resources, but it is meant to be a work in progress with many contributors. So if you want to share your own lessons, experiences teaching haiku in various venues, teaching success stories, or samples of student haiku, please send them along via the contact page.
As you many know, the theme for Haiku North America 2015, to be held October 14-18 at Union College in Schenectady, New York, is “autumn term.” One element of this theme is the learning and teaching of haiku, and the conference will include a keynote address by Dr. Randy Brooks called “Teaching Haiku in American Higher Education” and a follow-up panel discussion moderated by Michael Dylan Welch and featuring Aubrey Cox, Geoff VanKirk, and Rich Schnell. These experiences should inspire fruitful discussions about teaching haiku during the conference. Hope to see you there, and your teaching plans and experiences here.
— Brad Bennett