May 1, 2007

Blog Carnival: The Education Perspective

Tiffany proposed this question to us for this blog carnival:

"With all of the different methods that we have studied, I'm sure that you all have your own ideas of how to introduce a work. My question is which way do you think will be best for you and your students? Why? Will you use more than one method?"

First and foremost, I would need to make sure that the students are engaged into the material. If the students do not care, or cannot relate, then they will not be interested when they are done with the novel. I would personally simply introduce the work, then become more and more creative as the lesson progresses. Also, I think that concerning high school students, a direct teaching style will have to be necessary for some of the lessons. I spoke to my co-operating teacher for my student teaching, and he told me to be prepared to educate and the creativity will come with the lesson.

I think that finding a cooperative learning strategy about halfway through the literary work will be what makes or breaks the students' interest. Having a student act out a play, or construct the Globe Theatre are just a few ideas for a Shakespearean play. I think that a combination of teaching styles are important. But more imporantly, I think that the students should learn more about THEMSELVES when they are learning about the literature. For me personally, I loved my English classes in high school and college because I learned more about my own philosophy of life in general. I would love to be the one to present this to my students whenever I enter the field.

If you are talking about criticisms, I think that there are multiple criticisms that could work for a high school setting. Authorial Intent, Reader-Response, New Historicism, and Mimeses are all criticisms that could be effective, but it really depends on the age group. For juniors, which I was I received to student teach (WOOP WOOP!), I believe that all four of these could be integrated into the literature. But for a middle school/early high school setting, I think that to establish understanding, the student can really only be able to relate (reader-response), or look at the author's background (authorial intent). I just think that the other criticisms are a little bit advanced. Not to mention, in high school, plot summary and characterization were the two most imporant qualities to literature.

Overall, I have multiple teaching strategies that I would like to integrate into the secondary classroom, and after typing this blog carnival entry, I am only more excited to student teach. I think that we can use a diluted version of literary criticism into the high school setting, as long as we can still make the literature interesting and engaging to them. I was glad that education got mixed into this blog carnival, because I think that there are people who would like to discuss the actual teaching of English. Kudos to you, Tiffany.

Posted by The Gentle Giant at May 1, 2007 10:55 PM

Jay, while I agree that we need a diluted form of literary criticism when we teach otherwise it will be too advanced for a high school level class, but alarm bells went off in my head when you said "in high school, plot summary and characterization were the two most important qualities to literature." Is that the way you think it should be? In case you didn't have time to read my contribution to the carnival, I would like to say that I disagree wholeheartedly. Not as much with character development, but certainly with focusing on plot summary. Obviously, it depends on the demographics of your students but I think the emphasis on plot summary is detrimental to the education of future college students. If students can't figure out what happens in a story by the time they are in 9th grade we have serious problems. There is no reason we should have to go over plot summary with our students, apart from maybe asking a few pointed questions to make sure they are actually reading the works. Furthermore, focusing on plot summary makes students think that is all they have to look at when studying a work. Then they can't figure out why they are failing when they get to a course that asks for interpretation or analysis. Plot summary does not really provide the background students need to build on. It sets them up for failure because giving a plot summary becomes a habit that later has to be broken. And I think that isn't expecting enough of our students. They are capable of so much more than regurgitating what happened in a story. They will rise to expectations as long as they are reasonable. I was learning (very minimally) about the basics of literary criticism by the time I was a senior in high school. Yes, I was in AP classes, but so were hundreds of other students. And I think others who were not honors would at least have been capable of being aware of the different opinions literary scholars have about how we should examine and study literature. But, all that aside, YOU as a teacher will still have a lens that you will be using when you talk about a work and its possible, or probable meanings with your students - whether your students are even aware of that lens or not. So, I am glad to know that you are open to different approaches.

Posted by: Lorin at May 5, 2007 6:56 PM
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