Uncharted waters of poetry-based learning


Arts-based learning is a different way of acquiring new knowledge about non-art topics like leadership, innovation and management in business. It can include any type of art form such as painting, performance, storytelling, music or poetry.

Art is that invisible force that inspires us to pause, to slow down racing thoughts and explore other sources of information. By putting a side our rational thinking we open doors for higher realms of awareness and wisdom, giving us insights we couldn’t recognize earlier.

One of the most beneficial attributes of arts-based learning is that it fosters co-creative spirit, where with joined strengths is much easier to find a solution or accept change in responsive way. This type of activities can accelerate the process of finding shared values and creating trust among co-workers. Arts-based learning has been also seen as a vehicle for enhancing intercultural communication, with more than 400 of America’s Fortune 500 companies using artistic skills, processes and experiences to foster creative thinking and strengthen innovation processes.

If you approach life like an artist you are developing skills:

to observe the world in different light; to better use available resources;to follow your instincts; to pursue your passion; to explore your own innovative thinking; to find connections among unrelated events and elements;to take risks and become more empathetic and understanding.

In my previous posts I gave a glimpse on how poetry can help us in strategic thinking, storytelling, intercultural communication, building business ethics, decision making, advertising and how it fosters innovation, leadership and creativity. But there are ohter ways how poetry can enhance our learning abilities. Monika Kostera in her paper “Performatives: Collecting Poetical Definitions of Management’, Organization, 4(3), p. 343, 1997, examines the relationship between feelings and organizational skills through the lens of poetry. She argues that we can use poetry to learn more about the subversive and subjective experience of talking about management topics. In her opinion, poetry is particularly powerful in that it does not avoid passion and it is disruptive because it is inconclusive.

In another very interesting paper, “Voice, Verse and Va va voom: Illuminating Management processes through Poetry”, Grisoni and Kirk (2006) explored the power of using poetry as a critical analytical tool. Two members of organization have written poems about their experiences in relation to decision-making critical incidents within the life of organization. They reported that writing in the form of poetry enabled them to find a voice, increased personal learning, and new insights in relation to roles, management processes of decision-making, and interpersonal dynamics in the organisation.

But this is not where the power of poetry-based learning ends: it can help us further in learning about:

  • Systems thinking;
  • Values creation and contribution;
  • Managing change;
  • New product development;
  • Branding;
  • Acquiring tacit knowledge;
  • Improving collaboration and teamwork;
  • Role-playing and improving communications,

which all these topics will be further explored in the posts to come.

For now I will live with some thoughts by Jose Rizal:

Education Gives Luster To Motherland (an excerpt)

Where wise education raises a throne
Sprightly youth are invigorated,
Who with firm stand error they subdue
And with noble ideas are exalted;
It breaks immortality’s neck,
Contemptible crime before it is halted:
It humbles barbarous nations
And it makes of savages champions.
And like the spring that nourishes
The plants, the bushes of the meads,
She goes on spilling her placid wealth,
And with kind eagerness she constantly feeds,
The river banks through which she slips,
And to beautiful nature all she concedes,
So whoever procures education wise
Until the height of honor may rise.



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