Friday, February 23, 2007

English Updates February 23, 2007

Why Read Literature? “...the substance beneath the shadow, the reality behind the surface appearances of life; the power of literature to clarify experience, to make the reader more intensely aware of life, to extend that awareness. W. Loban. EE (Nov. 66), 751.

Why Read Literature? “It is crucial that children develop an awareness of viewpoints other than their own to help them in working out human relations.” M Mansell. EE (Jan. 75), 33.

Is This How You Teach Literature? A teacher had just passed out copies of Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables and was in the process of explaining that the class would have to read it. During the explanation, one student turned quietly to one of his classmates and observed: “Gawd! This book’s 357 pages long!” The classmate replied, “Yeah! And look at the small print and no pictures.” A third, overhearing their conversation, commented, “Yeah! Ya know, I’d even try to read it if I thought it’d be interesting, but all the rest of the stuff we’ve read in here has been so dull, this’ll only be a lot more of the same thing.” To which the first student answered, “It doesn’t make any difference anyway. Just throw her a few of those tough questions and she’ll end up discussing it with herself.” A Dittmer. EJ (Oct. 73), 1009.

Discussion. Two types of discussion: “dialogic” (authentic) or inquiry into a problem or issue; and “recitation,” pre-specified answers to the teacher’s questions. The teacher wants the right answer. With the latter, students may wonder, “Why should I bother saying anything?” LR Johanessen. EJ (Sept. 03), 73.

Discussion. “Students and teachers play a game I call, ‘What’s on my mind?’ Teachers ask questions with known answers, evaluate students’ responses (usually in monosyllables like ‘Good’), focus on...mainly literal levels and maintain a clear hierarchy of authority.” R VanDeWeghe. EJ (Sept. 03), 88.

Teaching Poetry. “The typical scenario goes something like this. Teacher tells students that they are going to study a wonderful poem by _____ (Fill in the blank). Teacher then tells students a few things about the wonderful poet. Teacher reads the poem aloud, while students follow along in their books. Students find the poem incomprehensible. Teacher asks questions about the poem. Students stare into space. Uneasy with the silence, teacher answers her own questions.” C Jago. EJ (Jan. 02), 21.

Literary Criticism. Students should respond to reviews and criticism of literary works they have read. JM McCann & JM Flanagan. EJ (Sept. 02), 29-35.

Responding to Literature. Students formulate open-ended questions about the literature they are reading. They then read and respond with quotes from the literature that suggest answers to the questions. V Mendoza. CN+ (Oct. 02), 9-10.

Why Read Literature? The function of real literature is to ask questions. J Hansen. Wrt (Sept. 73), 17.

Response to Literature. Recognize that there are things we do not understand in the literature we seek to interpret. Make students aware of and sensitive to the things they don’t understand in the world around them. JK Young. CE (Jul. 04), 632-651.

Grammar as Science. Another reason for teaching grammar may be that the study of grammar can help students discover how to collect data, formulate and test hypotheses, draw generalizations—in short, it can help students learn to approach something as the scientist does. C Weaver. Grammar for Teachers. NCTE/ 1979, 89.

EE = Elementary English. EJ = English Journal. CN+ = Classroom Notes Plus. Wrt = The Writer. CE = College English.

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