The Case for Bribing Kids to Memorize Poetry (via NY Times)

My 11-year-old son, Nate, perches on a stool in the kitchen, frowning at the sheet of paper in his hands. “O.K., I think I’ve got it,” he announces.

“Lay it on me,” I say.

“Much have I traveled in the realms of gold,” he begins. “And many goodly states and kingdoms seen.” Slowly, but with confidence, he recites the entirety of “On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer.”

I beam at him. Over the last two hours, my kid has memorized 14 lines of Keats.

Nate’s no budding poet, entranced by the written word. (He burns for basketball, not Byron.) And I’m no inspirational home-schooling mother. This afternoon’s accomplishment was the result of sheer bribery.

Aside from three weeks at camp, I don’t schedule much for my son and his brother during the summer. That is, except for our annual project. Last year, I taught them basic cooking. The year before that, it was Christian Bible stories. (We’re Jewish; I figured they ought to learn about the dominant religion.) This summer, I decided, it would be classic poetry.

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