Document Type


Publication Date



Poetry, Classical Education, Program Evaluation


Poetry is endemic to classical education and often studied for its own sake. However, poetry is also posited to possess a pedagogical power not shared by prose or formal scientific language. Poetry’s distinctive effects on learning outcomes have been well articulated by philosophers since Plato and Aristotle, but their claims have not been subjected to an empirical test. We fill that gap in this study. We collaborated with a local classical grammar school and divided kindergarten, first grade, and second grade classrooms into two groups for a two-week science unit. One group of classrooms integrated poems about the topic of study into the science unit, while the other group of classrooms did not. Measuring students’ levels of affinity, attentiveness, curiosity, and enjoyment of poetry both at baseline and after the poetry intervention, we found that poetry increased students’ attentiveness and their enjoyment of poetry. There was less evidence of poetry’s impacts on affinity and curiosity. Implications about the role of poetry for teaching and learning and the place of empirical research for classical education are discussed.

Series Title

EDRE Working Paper

Series Number