Title

Lighting the match: Using haiku to teach about aging

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

6-11-2007

Abstract

The purpose of this article is to describe an innovative teaching method in which American undergraduate students were asked to write haiku-a Japanese poetry form-about the lives of nursing home residents. Drawing on both their own experiences and May Sarton's novel As We Are Now, class members created poems about institutionalization that exhibited descriptive, analytic and reflective qualities. Since Sarton's central character, Caroline Spencer, eventually burns down the facility where she has been consigned-setting what she herself calls a "cleansing holocaust"-students were also asked to address the question: Did she have the right to do it? Their responses expressed themes of compassion, condemnation, and moral ambiguity. Numerous examples of the poems produced by the students are provided to show how they struggled with and used the concise framework of haiku to explore their own insights, emotions, and ethical values about aging, power and institutionalization. © 2007 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

Publication Name

Gerontology and Geriatrics Education

Volume Number

27

First Page

55

Last Page

68

Issue Number

4

DOI

10.1300/J021v27n04_04

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