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At what age would you expect a child to be asked to learn this off by heart?

(97 Posts)
Greythorne Sun 02-Dec-12 11:07:26

...and be asked to recite it in front of the class?

The Hare and the Tortoise

Rushing is useless; one has to leave on time. To such
Truth witness is given by the Tortoise and the Hare.
"Let’s make a bet," the former once said, "that you won’t touch
That line as soon as I." "As soon? Are you all there,
Neighbor?" said the rapid beast.
"You need a purge: four grains at least
Of hellebore, you’re now so far gone."
"All there or not, the bet’s still on."
So it was done; the wagers of the two
Were placed at the finish, in view.
It doesn’t matter what was down at stake,
Nor who was the judge that they got.
Our Hare had, at most, four steps or so to take.
I mean the kind he takes when, on the verge of being caught,
He outruns dogs sent to the calends for their pains,
Making them run all over the plains.
Having, I say, time to spare, sleep, browse around,
Listen to where the wind was bound,
He let the Tortoise leave the starting place
In stately steps, wide-spaced.
Straining, she commenced the race:
Going slow was how she made haste.
He, meanwhile, thought such a win derogatory,
Judged the bet to be devoid of glory,
Believed his honor was all based
On leaving late. He browsed, lolled like a king,
Amused himself with everything
But the bet. When at last he took a look,
Saw that she’d almost arrived at the end of the course,
He shot off like a bolt. But all of the leaps he took
Were in vain; the Tortoise was first perforce.
"Well, now!" she cried out to him. "Was I wrong?
What good is all your speed to you?
The winner is me! And how would you do
If you also carried a house along?"

chloe74 Sun 09-Dec-12 17:08:49

why would you have to hassle DD to learn it, practice it together and it can be fun. It is possible to enjoy learning if they see adults enjoying it to.

At that age they are capable of learning whole songs without even trying...

badguider Sun 09-Dec-12 17:04:00

i learned long scots poems in primary school for recitals and we got a couple of lines stuck onto a coloured card to learn, then the next two added the next time etc. till it was all stuck in couplets onto the card... seemed to work for me at the time... just a suggestion.

twostraightlines Sun 09-Dec-12 16:56:31

(hi jamais, thank you and happy Christmas to you too!)

Bonsoir Sun 09-Dec-12 13:46:49

My DD (in CE2) gets much shorter pieces than this to learn by heart - though she does have to learn by heart in both French and English. In her English class they are currently learning 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, though they don't have to recite it individually - it's a group exercise where the verses are shared out among four children.

They do that thing where they learn poems by heart and then write a poem of their own à la manière de. DD loves doing that!

CecilyP Sun 09-Dec-12 10:21:25

I slunk away, reader, feeling both delighted and humbled.

Shame you didn't ask why, if the children are all so advanced, they are not just learning it in class. It seems, if your DD is typical, there needs to be tremendous adult support for the children to learn it all. The teacher seems oblivious to the angst probably going on in each individual home in order to get this thing learned.

jamaisjedors Sun 09-Dec-12 10:20:24

(hello twostraightlines and Happy Christmas)!

twostraightlines Sat 08-Dec-12 22:34:26

For the record, we are also in France and my DD1 had to learn the same poem off by heart in CE2 or CM1 (age 8/9)...

DS is in CP and does much shorter and easier texts than this.

I wonder if the whole class are thrilled to have something so hard?

gallicgirl Sat 08-Dec-12 22:22:28

Can you set it to music?
Long pieces are much easier to learn when there's a tune to follow.

I'm glad to see the teacher is expanding on the poem in class but personal opinion is rote learning is useless - I experienced French uni where the teaching methods bemused visiting students.

jamaisjedors Sat 08-Dec-12 22:02:57

Ahh, that's humbling, you're right!

You'll probably feel much more positive about practising with DD now and at least you know the teacher's intentions are good.

smile about happy ending!

Greythorne Sat 08-Dec-12 14:11:51

I am coming back to give you an update after our meeting with the teacher this am.

Well, she right away mentioned the poetry and said, "this year, it's an exceptional class, I thought I would give them something really stretching, and they are all so pleased to be doing something as hard as this. I have told them the story and I get them to retell portions of the story using their own words and they love reinterpreting it. It is a class that is really flying, so I knew they would be up for it. It's so exciting for them to discover that there's more to books than Tchoupi [similar to Spot in English] and to know that this was written hundreds of years ago. Bravo to your children for being at this level now."

I slunk away, reader, feeling both delighted and humbled.

strictlycaballine Fri 07-Dec-12 08:45:55

oh dear


strictlycaballine Fri 07-Dec-12 08:43:43

We're abroad too. I've just dug out dd's poetry book from last year (3ieme primaire - 8 yrs) and the poetry she had to learn by heart includes:

Couleurs d'Automne by Jean Claude Brinette, En Sortant de l'ecole by Jacques Prevert and Het fluitketeltje by Annie M G Schmidt

I consider dd's school to be fairly rigorous so I agree with the others that in terms of length, vocabluary and the sense of the piece it is a bit too advanced for a 5 year old. Give it two or three years and it would be fine though!

draga Fri 07-Dec-12 01:47:41

Oh I remember doing this same text in (french) school. To the best of my memory, it must have been in CE2 or CM1 though, not CP.

KTK9 Thu 06-Dec-12 22:12:36

Gosh, that seems difficult.

Personally, I think the best way to learn it, is for you to read several lines out again and again and she will pick it up. Doing it just before you go to bed is probably the best time - then you will get the 'latent' learning coming in.

When dd was about 3, she could recite the whole Peter Rabbit story off by heart, although she did have the pictures to look at for a prompt, she turned the pages at exactly the right time and it looked like she could read (she couldn't), but then when I got the CD story for the car, she could recite it too. She had literally heard it so much.

Have you thought of reading it out, recording it and playing it for her.

Best of luck.

Pythonesque Thu 06-Dec-12 16:59:09

Seems too hard for 5 to me - and I've got a very bright, yr 3, 7 yr old who has memorised poems for school several times now. He'd manage something a little shorter, half his class wouldn't.

Elibean Wed 05-Dec-12 16:43:08

grin jamais

The OP's original poem!

Frontpaw Wed 05-Dec-12 15:14:37

I don't think kids have to learn things like this from memory anymore. We used to learn parts of the bible and hymns off by heart in primary school but DS has only had to learn some Christmas carols so far!

Greythorne Wed 05-Dec-12 15:13:00

we have a regular meeting with teacher on Sat am....let's just say, I will be raising this issue with her!

Greythorne Wed 05-Dec-12 15:12:36

we are doing two lines at a time, then moving on, but then trying to build up links between sections, because, from expereience, DD can learn all the couplets fine, but then has trouble stringing them together.

Goldmandra Wed 05-Dec-12 14:59:48

Have you asked the teacher what the learning objectives of this exercise are?

jamaisjedors Wed 05-Dec-12 14:55:34

I feel for you! Been there, tears and all...

Have you spoken to other parents to see how they feel about it?

ShaynePunim Wed 05-Dec-12 14:15:55

You'll get there very soon then.

Are you doing it one line at a time?

What I used to do was one line at a time, and add them on to the previous ones (so you'd say out loud 5 perfect lines, then 6 perfect lines etc.), and never ever start on a new line until I knew the previous ones perfectly.

Once your daugher (and you) see that you can do it, it won't feel so daunting the next time.

Cahoootz Wed 05-Dec-12 14:12:10

I guessed a French School as soon as I saw the OP. That poem is really long and difficult. My DC's were educated overseas in a traditional style school but were never asked to do something like that. My DC's happily memorised entire episodes of SpongeBob confused wink

Greythorne Wed 05-Dec-12 13:51:15


After an intensive weekend of practising, we are halfway through. And I say "we are halfway through" deliberately, because it really is both of us!

Greythorne Wed 05-Dec-12 13:50:04


I think you have got me quite, quite wrong.

I am neither anti-education or anti French system, but thanks for comparing my DD to Saint Augustine. That's a first.

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