Gove urges teenagers to send love poems, not sexts

Love poetry and the Education Secretary may seem like an unlikely combination, but Michael Gove is advising young people to swap ‘sexting’ for romantic poems.

Mr Gove has revealed that his own favourite love poems are Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold and Love by George Herbert, the Daily Mail reports.

He is encouraging teenagers to start using a new app called The Love Book, instead of sending sexually explicit images or messages from smartphones. It allows users to record themselves reading poetry to share with their intended, together with recordings of actors including Helena Bonham Carter, Damian Lewis and Gina Bellman.

Mr Gove suggested that poetry can help young people ‘make sense of their own feelings in a way that is more graceful, expressive and beautiful [than sexting]’ and added that: “Technology does not have to mean that expression becomes clumsier.”

Actress Helena Bonham Carter said: “Give your child an appetite for poems and they will never be bored. I think as a child I was a bit scared by poetry until someone told me it was a song that didn’t need the music. Some people say that a good tweet is a haiku. A text could be a poem too…it’s just making magic with words.”

Are you surprised by Michael Gove’s choice of love poetry – what’s your favourite? And do you think the new app will become a popular alternative to sexting?

3 thoughts on “Gove urges teenagers to send love poems, not sexts

  1. Popular music lyrics, not the students or their ability, are most to blame for this situation. Back in the 1980s and earlier, most popular songs were LOVE songs with affection and emotions. But now it’s hard to find a real love song on a contemporary hits radio station at all!

    The love theme is a good idea, but poetry is a bit of a long shot to call for most. How about getting students to compose very short, simple love rhymes to their girlfriend or boyfriend, write them down as poems, and put them to a tune and record and sing them? (Clapping out the rhythms and acting out the poems also gets students interested!) Or study the lyrics of older popular music songs, like Whitney Houston “I Will Always Love You,” …1980s have so many, and put them in the latest literature anthology with a CD, or as a supplement every 3 years? Make it glossy and very interesting layout. I know that from the Sri Lankan A-level and O-level book – they have lyrics and cassettes with popular songs, and students of all types love them (even the village, never go to uni ones and intercity street children!). I know this from 10 years experience teaching ESL/EFL and literature to very basic students in Asia.

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