Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Poetry - for sheer pleasure

Lying on the sofa in Chelsea, shivering on the beach in Ireland, sitting on a bus in Hong Kong. All places that I have read this poem. Each time, I shiver with the exhilaration of the first verse, and the courage of the second.

The Hill - Rupert Brooke

Breathless, we flung us on the windy hill,
Laughed in the sun, and kissed the lovely grass.
You said, "Through glory and ecstasy we pass;
Wind, sun, and earth remain, the birds sing still,
When we are old, are old..." "And when we die
All's over that is ours; and life burns on
Through other lovers, other lips," said I,
- "Heart of my heart, our heaven is now, is won!"

"We are Earth's best, that learnt her lesson here.
Life is our cry. We have kept the faith!" we said;
"We shall go down with unreluctant tread
Rose-crowned into the darkness!" ... Proud
we were,
And laughed, that had such brave true things
to say.
- And then you suddenly cried, and turned away.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Speech Festival Heaven!

Today, I had the most inspiring and delightful morning. I adjudicated a Speech Festival; one hundred and forty five year olds all reading short poems!

For some people, this scenario may be their idea of hell. For me, it is a vision of the potential of our Hong Kong students. To stand on a stage at the age of four requires both courage on the part of the child and support on the part of their parents. The children this morning had both in abundance.

The Festival (第四屆全港學生公開朗誦比賽)I am involved in is organised by the Speech and Music Recital Foundation who believe in encouraging and nurturing students. Of course, there are winners but every participant gets a medal and a certificate of encourgement (including the little girl who recited the title and name of the author five times, bowed and fled the stage!)

So how do you prepare your children to take this first brave step? The Brandon Learning Centre way is simple:

1: Learn and understand the poem
2: Practice makes perfect; ensure that your child knows their poem inside out so they don't forget it in the heat of the moment
3: Gestures aren't necessary, focus on the voice and face
4: Have fun, Speech Festivals should be part of the learning process not about instilling fear!

To all the children who competed this morning; I am so pleased that you have taken the first step on your way to becoming a confident public speaker. To people who are yet to take that step, it is always the hardest but success always follows close behind.

For more information on the Speech Festival