Simply Haiku: An E-Journal of Haiku and Related Forms
David E. LeCount, Teaching Haiku to Children.
conflicting doubts about “teaching” creative
writing in any form, especially in haiku. They seem to hover around the idea
of whether or not creativity in any form can be taught. Robert Frost suggested
something to the effect that poetry could be caught but not taught. This observation
itself suggests by metaphor a certain sports factor of both happenstance and
skill. As a thesis that is difficult for me to maintain and espouse, I believe
that it both can and cannot be taught.
In the older kids (9-12th grades), it is often the reverse. Older kids want (and use) abstractions, rhyme, self-related words, thoughts of importance, judgments, etc. Their desire to create stories in three lines is very strong. Furthermore, they live in a culture that rarely delves into the spirit of nature.
older students need to be reminded that their mind has its origin in childhood,
and, in earliest childhood they had a sense of
stage before “separation anxiety” became a part of their life.)
To return them to this state of mind, I often give them a “no thinking” requirement
by hurrying them up so that they can’t make conventional sense. Even
after some gibberish is written, students can learn best from their own haiku.
Afterwards, the editing can be done. They can learn specifics (pine vs. tree),
concrete nouns and active verbs; they can use or learn not to use sentence
fragments, as well as parts of speech.
Such a haiku might read: autumn pond/ sunning on the stone/ the frog’s shadow. Any and all of the requirements listed can be changed to help prevent the recipe from becoming too procrustean. Even with these few tools, I am left wondering where the real magic of haiku comes from, and where its seductive spirit begins.
David LeCount is a teacher of English and language arts by day, and by night a haiku writer.
He has published many haiku and several books on creative writing with Heinemann.
In 1993, he was an invited speaker to the World Haiku Festival in Leeuvarden, Holland.
He served as a consultant for the Center for Educational Research at Stanford University.
At the right, he is shown standing next to Ken Kesey's Magic Bus.
Some of his haiku are featured in this issue of Simply Haiku.