Poem of the Week: ‘Scaffolding’ by Eveline Pye

  18 May '21   |  Posted by: Birlinn

Two poetry anthologies for key workers are published this week – To Learn the Future: Poems for Teachers and To Mind Your Life: Poems for Nurses and Midwives. These small pocket-sized volumes contain a collection of poems carefully selected by editors at the Scottish Poetry Library to honour and inspire the people of these professions in their work. This week’s poem is from To Learn the Future.

‘Scaffolding’ by Eveline Pye, reflects on support mechanisms that can eventually be quietly removed leaving a structure standing on its own foundation. While it’s specifically about teaching maths, its imagery is universally applicable. The poems are accompanied by notes and responses from teachers around Scotland. About Pye’s poem, Richard (a primary teacher in West Lothian) writes, ‘I see their minds inflate’ – a line that wonderfully summed up those fleeting and always to be savoured moments when you can see the children learn. That’s why we teach, not to go to meetings but help them all grow.’

Eveline Pye

 They need to trust you
 describe their reasoning
 in detail. Each premise
 must be laid bare.

 ‘Why did you do that?

 Where did that number
 come from?’

 I follow each step
 searching for the wrong idea
 the mistaken concept.

 Sometimes, all I gift
 is one new thought like . . .
 ‘Dividing can make
 a number bigger’
 and it’s as if I see
 their minds inflate.

 It’s like blowing air
 into someone else’s lungs.
 You have to stop
 as soon as you can.

 You need them
 to breathe again
 – all on their own.

from To Learn the Future: Poems for Teachers, edited by Jane Cooper, Lilias Fraser, Kate Hendry and Samuel Tongue

Read a poem from To Mind Your Life: Poems for Nurses and Midwives here.

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