The Long and the Short of It
Alan Maley and Andrew Wright

Our presentation will take the form of a verbal 'jugalbandhi' (in Indian music this refers to a performance by 'entwined twins' who bounce musical ideas off each other). In our case, we shall alternate with ideas about stories and poetry and their central role in education.

We shall interleave serious arguments for the incorporation of stories and poems at all levels of language education with actual examples of our own (and others') stories and poems.

Clearly, stories are an indispensible vehicle for the learning process. Storying is a key way of making sense and sharing sense with others in all parts of society.

Equally clearly, the poetic function is central to language, especially at the young learner stage. Poems embody the beat and rhythm of the language, they provoke a response (physical, visual, cognitive, affective, associative, etc.), they prompt connections with personal experience, they open the way for learning through vicarious experience, they foster language play, they offer non-tedious repetition, they encourage learners to take risks with the language.

Our contention is that a failure to take advantage of the power of story and poetry is to short-change our learners and to leave them victim to a culture of measurement, and a shallow, 'objectives'-dominated, measurement-obsessed view of education.