The Iraqi teacher poet Manaf Ba’aj tested the effect of learning poetry on children’s behavioral skills and abilities, by experimenting with his daughter Maram, who was afraid to speak in front of others and was afraid to answer in front of the teacher and students if she was exposed to a question even if she knew the answer.
The poet, residing in Istanbul, began memorizing his daughter, who is studying in a Turkish school, and her two brothers, the poems of Ahmed Shawki, and began recording videos for them during the recitation, and then posted them on the YouTube channel.
With the repetition of the experience, Maram began to be encouraged to speak and provide answers to her teacher, who was afraid to speak in front of her before this experience.
Baaj says that he once memorized his children’s poem al-Mu’tamid ibn Abbad, which he says at the beginning of it, “In the past, you were happy with the feasts …”, which is the poem he said when his daughters visited him in his prison while they were wearing torn clothes with bare feet, then he recorded the poem with Maram and published the clip.
He adds that he was surprised the next day with his daughter, and she imagined that poem, so she drew a beautiful painting of al-Mu’tamid bin Abbad behind bars, and his daughters stood in front of him in their worn clothes, and the painting speaks of all the meanings of the poem.
Ibn Abbad’s poem sparked the imagination of the girl Maram and exploded her latent talents, in a move that the father sees as an indication of the role of preserving poetry and its narration in exploding the talents and creativity of children.
Evidence of history and literature
Baaj explains – in his speech to Al-Jazeera Net – that he practices the same method of teaching poetry with his students at school, and he clearly sees the effect of this on their abilities and their learning of skills.
It is rooted for the experience with a narration on the authority of the Muslim caliph Al-Faruq Omar bin Al-Khattab, in which he says: “Teach your children swimming, archery, and horse riding, and narrate them as beautiful poetry.” He also cites a narration from the Mother of the Believers, Aisha, may God be pleased with her, in which she says: “Tell your children poetry, their tongues are tormented.”
The poet also demonstrates the sincerity of his opinion by narrations from masterpieces of Arabic literature, such as the story of Ziad bin Abe when he sent his son to Mu’awiyah, may God be pleased with him, and revealed him about the arts of science, and he found him aware of everything he asked about, then poetry appealed to him and said: I did not narrate anything from him, so he wrote Muawiyah to Ziad, he says to him: What prevented you from reciting poetry? I swear by God, if the wicked person can see it, then it will be justified, and if the curmudgeon can see it, then it will be saved, and if the coward can see it, then he will fight.
Baaj also relates that when the caliph Abu Jaafar Al-Mansour died, his son Jaafar, and the people returned from his funeral, Al-Mansour said to his eyebrow: O Rabee, look at my family who sings me, “The security of the manna and her fear is agonizing .. and the age is not blamed for those who are grieving”, until I am entertained about my misfortune. So he went out to Bani Hashem and they were all present, so he asked them about it, but no one was among them to memorize it, so he returned and told him, and said: By God, my misfortune with my family is that no one in them memorizes this poem, because of their lack of desire for literature, greater and more severe for me than my misfortune for my son.
Baaj says that one of the principles of modern education is: “What has been forgotten by two or more senses”, explaining that this principle is now applied in schools, where the teacher is asked to diversify his teaching methods. Because among his students there are many types, some of them are visual, some are auditory, and some are psychomotor, and so on.
He adds that poetry fulfills this purpose, as images, imaginations, emotions, weight and rhythm are combined, especially poetry appropriate for the ages of children and young people.
The Iraqi poet practiced poetry education with his young students, and with foreign students while he was studying Arabic for non-native speakers, so he used to select poems for them from Ahmad Shawqi’s “Children’s Diwan”, which are poems in his last collection on the tongues of animals. In each poem he mentions a story with dialogue Latif ends with beautiful wisdom, like the poem “The Fox and the Rooster” that ends with:Whoever thinks that the fox has a debt is wrong.
And Baaj indicates that he read in the book “The Art of Oratory” by Dale Carnegie that he admires Ahmed Shawky’s way of telling stories, to conclude it with wisdom or proverb.
It is known – according to Baaj – that learning each language passes through four stages: listening, speaking, reading, and writing, so whoever hears an eloquent speech will utter an eloquent speech.
And he says: “Therefore, when the Arabs mixed with Muslims with others, the early Muslims were not affected, but the effect began to appear in the children who began to hear broken words, and also the deaf is dumb, because he does not hear words and does not speak.”
Abu Hilal al-Askari mentioned in his book “Al-Senaanin” that a sheikh entered the land of Nabat, and found among them a boy who was fluent in the tongue, and he wondered and asked him where did he get this eloquence? The young man replied that he used to take about 50 sheets of Al-Jahiz’s books every day, so no short time passed until he became what he had become, and his tongue had eloquence.
A research study published on Scholar Base – a Malaysian electronic research publishing complex – indicates that poetry has 5 benefits for teaching children, which are developing the ability to make rhythms, developing a child’s phonemic awareness, developing memorization skills, and developing the ability to express Self, and the development of the physical awareness of the learner.
The academic researcher in educational sciences at Malaysian universities, Wael Maslamani, believes that poetry – as it describes a form of knowledge – has remained sober in its literary content that it has the ability and high flexibility to transmit ideas and epistemological phenomena through the long journey of time.
Maslamani says that the use of poetry in social, cultural and religious events made it one of the basic entrances to the philosophy of society and its educational patterns, which explains the ancient Arab poetry assuming a unique role in the harmony of the relationship between science and education through its jowl, its separate saying and its clear logic, which came as a tool for conveying the knowledge and value system. And ethical.
Maslamani – who spoke to Al-Jazeera Net – believes that the extended relationship between poetry and education offers horizons that contribute to building the personality of young people, raising their cultural level, and qualifying them to envision life.
He also sees that the vivid photography that poetry employs in its verses contributes to crystallizing the cognitive meditation of young people and the associated intellectual openness that they need for addition and creativity.
Maslamani points out that poetry, with its sober linguistic texture, may transcend the boundaries of textbooks, which represent an abstract theoretical source of knowledge, presenting a broad mixture of imagery and perceived imagination linked to expanding young people’s perceptions and their mental fitness.
He also believes that this method of teaching is not limited to systems and prose, but goes beyond that to theatrical art, story, simulation, and other vocabulary that can be used in the contexts of non-curricular school activities.
Maslamani explains that the emergence of poetry in the bosom of rhetorical art establishes among its learners a unique linguistic reservoir, which contributes to enriching their discourse and their discursive faculty.
However, it shows that learning poetry may not be directly related to solving speech problems in children, but it is an important source of alternatives and linguistic synonyms that may help improve verbal problems for some, as it is a means of articulating the tongue with what it represents from oral science in which systems, simulations, and control of weight and rhyme.