Ways with words: teacher's personal epistemologies of the role of metalanguage in the teaching of poetry writing
This paper investigates the personal epistemologies of teachers in relation to the place of linguistic and literary metalanguage in the teaching of poetry writing. The data draw on 93 interviews with 31 secondary English teachers in the UK, following lesson observations, and the data are a subset of a larger study investigating the impact of contextualised grammar teaching on writing attainment. The analysis indicates that teachers' personal epistemologies relating to metalanguage are ambivalent and, at times, contradictory. Teachers tend to view literary metalanguage as linked to the creative freedom of writing poetry, whereas linguistic metalanguage is constructed as associated with rules and restrictions. At the same time, teachers reveal a lack of confidence with subject knowledge in both literary and linguistic metalanguage, which may be shaping their epistemological beliefs. Teachers' comments on the place of literary and linguistic metalanguage in poetry writing are paradoxical, but do appear to be strongly connected with their personal epistemologies. They subscribe to a literate epistemology which values literary metalanguage as part of the knowledge base of a creative, expressive subject, but linguistic metalanguage is not included within this literate epistemology. 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.