Sept. 26, 2013
DHS Should Replace Shakespearen Poetry with More Contemporary Works Opinion By Emma Pinsky
What happens when you hear the word poetry? Do And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from high school have to rhyme. I know, you’re going to need a second you shudder? Do you picture flowery Shakespearean movies, it’s to always give in to peer pressure. to entirely change your perspective on life in order to verses with formal structure and weird metaphors? Or Like poetry, its readers often get stereotyped. fit in this new piece of information. Most contemthe poetry of angst-ridden teenagers, writing in diaries They’re the free-spirited hippie daydreamers, drifting porary poems aren’t what you traditionally think of stained with eyeliner and tears? If it was one of those through life without a care and making no great imas poetry. They don’t always follow a set structure. two, or something similar, I don’t blame you. Like pact on society. Of course, that’s only true if you igThere’s none of that iambic pentameter stuff that everything else, there are stereotypes that go with ponore the Harvard Business Review, which proclaimed makes all older poems sound the same. Contemporary etry, and you can’t help but think of them. How could that “reading and writing poetry can be a valuable poems also tend to be more relatable. They may have you not, when nearly every poem we read in school component of leadership development.” If you have even been written in your lifetime, about subjects was written before our great-grandparents were born, some personal vendetta against Harvard and can’t acyou understand and care about. Some sound more is completely unrelatable and is so dull it might as well cept that fact as enough proof, you could always listen like a friend telling a story, others like a rant about be a newspaper. Or you may have never read poetry to the New York Times, which noted, “poets are our something that bothers the poet. I’m not going to at all. According to the National Endowment for the original systems thinkers” and “[poets] look at our lie and say every contemporary poem ever written is Arts, “In 2008, just 8.3% great. Like with anything, of adults said they had there are good ones and Poetry Playlist: Ten Poems To Make you Rethink your Aversion to Poetry read poetry in the precedterrible ones. A poem I ing 12 months.” Odds love, such as “In Transit” are, high school is one by Lenore Kandel or Name: Time: Artist: Genre: of the only places you “Chicks Up Front” by 1. Why Rimbaud went to Africa 8:09 David Lerner Anti-Phonies even have the chance of Sarah Holbrook, might 2. Chicks Up Front 7:22 Sarah Holbrook Femenist encountering poetry. be about as thrilling as an 3. A Poem for Jesse 1:13 Sonia Sanchez Love Before you grab your old phonebook to you. Frank Fissette Criminal 4. Fugitive 4:01 pitchfork and torch, The point isn’t that you 5. Bus 6:54 Alan Kaufman People-Watching let me clarify that I am develop my exact taste in 6. Ball & Chain Record Store 2:36 Ellyn Maybe Casual Dialouge absolutely not suggestpoetry, although if you 7. Bagel Shop Jazz 3:17 Bob Kaufman People-Watching ing we get assigned more happen to, feel free to 8. Revolutionary Letters 5:43 Diane DiPrima Rebel work. I’m a writer, not a give me call. The point is Maura O’Connor Nostalgic 9. Testimony 3:00 psychopath. I’m just sayto consider giving poetry 10. Poetry 8:32 William Wantling Anti-Phonies ing we should take some a second chance, because of the classic poetry out you may have judged of the curriculum and it based on some bad replace it with contemexamples. porary poems, which are generally a lot easier to read most complex environments and they reduce the I also acknowledge that there isn’t a lot I can say and understand. complexity to something they begin to understand.” in this article that will drastically change your view on A study done by the Poetry Foundation found that Poetry’s not just for beatniks and flower children. poetry. There are activities I usually hate (volleyball, “most people are first exposed to classic poetry but It’s read and valued by people with real jobs who have trying on clothes, waking up before noon, etc.), and people who continue to engage with poetry are more to wear suits to work. The C.E.O. of Harman IndusI’m pretty sure no dumb newspaper article could likely to read or listen to contemporary poetry.” So tries, Sidney Harman, says “[I] used to tell my senior convince me they’re secretly fun. But it’s worth noting if you want to stop being such a poetry hater, you staff to get me poets as managers.” Not businessmen, that when the setting changes, some of the aforemenshould try reading some more recently written poems. not valedictorians, but poets. Poets and their readers tioned activities don’t seem so terrible. Being graded “But wait,” you might be saying, “Why would I understand how to approach problems from original on my volleyball skills in gym class is humiliating at want to read more poetry in the first place?” Well first and creative angles. It’s the job of poetry to observe best, but an impromptu game of backyard net-less of all, reading poetry looks a lot better than talking to the world and break it down for readers. These are volleyball with friends is significantly less awful, to the yourself in public. Besides that, the previously menskills that translate well to a variety of occupations. point where I sometimes catch myself enjoying it. So tioned study discovered that poetry readers “attend Learning how to dissect a problem and look at it in a maybe pick an activity you’ve written off as boring cultural events, volunteer, and socialize with friends new way is useful, no matter what path you take. or painful and give it a second chance from a new and family at significantly higher rates than do nonI do hope you’re sitting down, because what I’m perspective. poetry readers.” See, reading poetry makes you cooler. about to say may come as a shock. Poetry doesn’t Information courtesy of the Outlaw Bible of American Poetry
No Love of Learning in New College Affordability Plan Opinion By Marisa Flignor
The most feared, dreaded and condemned event to ever be spoken of in the halls of DHS just happened to me. I became a junior. Suddenly the world seems much more complex and words like ACT tutor, U.S. News and World Report college rankings, college visits, majors, concentrations and “hardest year of your life” keep circling in my mind. The real indicator, of course, is the weight of my backpack, which is now approximately half of my body weight, give or take five pounds. Still, college is supposed to be a fun new beginning, a chance for new experiences and new independence, taking only four classes at a time, living in a dorm for four years and then of course returning to your parents’ house with a piece of paper, a mountain of debt and an education that can’t get you a job. It is precisely this problem that President Obama is attempting to fix. During a two-day road trip last month through New York and Pennsylvania, Obama announced a new college affordability plan designed to address the escalating costs of higher education and the rising levels of student debt. The core of the plan is a ranking system that assigns each American college a number based upon its value, measured by tuition costs, graduation rates, the number of low-income students enrolled, the amount of debt graduates carry, the advanced degrees they obtain and the income potential of graduates. The White House reports that the average tuition at a public four-year college has risen by more than 250 percent in the last 30 years. This is making it increasingly difficult for middle-class families to pay for college. Student loans seemed to have solved the problem- buy now, pay later. But the system has spun so far out of control that the average student owes $26,000 in debt after graduation and many owe more. The plan, due to be finalized in 2015 (the year I graduate high school) would sum up everything prospective college students need in one single allimportant number. It is as of yet undisclosed exactly who will be calculating and assigning the rankings. Part two of the college affordability plan would reward well-ranking colleges with federal aid. This, however, must be designed and approved by Congress. The White House is hopeful that legislation distributing financial aid will be finalized in 2018, but rumors of opposition to the new plan abound. Some members of Congress feel that increased government involvement in the college process will do more damage than good. I find it
less likely that this part of the college affordability plan will ever amount to everything, especially seeing as in 2018 Obama will no longer be president. Without his guidance and pressure, the issue could easily be dropped. But what concerns me more is the first part of the plan: the value system. While the idea of having one compact number that lets me know if my dream school is really worth the money sounds ideal on the surface, the details of the matter are not so clear. For example, part of this all-important value number is calculated based on the earnings of graduates after school. The higher the average earnings, the better the value number. But what kind of message is this sending? The most important aspect of a job is how much you make? What about social workers, counselors and teachers? A lower income job doesn’t mean an unsuccessful or meaningful career. The value ranking would marginalize less prestigious jobs and encourage students to focus more on income potential than preference when choosing a major. I understand that not all of us can afford to choose a major we love over a major that will provide more income. While I may aspire to be an English major and then a freelance poet, realistically I may have to major in a science or even, as dreadful as it seems, become a doctor. The reason, of course, is obvious: doctors make money. Poets do not. But I fear that this value ranking system prioritizes the wrong idea. Where is the love of learning? Personally, the reason I’m excited for college is the chance to finally be able to appreciate learning without having my primary focus be the grade. Learning for the sole sake of learning is really what I love. The focus on grades too easily takes away from this in high school, but once in college I no longer have to worry about getting into it. The freedom that comes with changing my focus from the grade to the enjoyment is far more glorious than any independence I get by living without my parents. I’m looking forward to the exploration, the learning. Obama’s new plan is a nice start, but its focus is wrong. How much graduates make shouldn’t matter nearly as much as how satisfied they are with their job and lifestyle. That is perhaps a much harder thing to measure, but until we discover a way to do it, I vote we hold off on Obama’s college affordability plan.
By The Numbers:
Average amount of student loan debt
of student loan borrowers never earned a college degree in 2011
Americans have student loan debt
of students who earned bachelor’s degrees in 2010-11 from PRIVATE four-year colleges graduated with debt
of students who earned bachelor’s degrees in 2010-11 from PUBLIC four-year colleges graduated with debt
people care more about the love of learning than making money Information courtesy of (from top to bottom) White House, Urban Institue, Frederal Reserve, The College Board.