Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Topic: Typical Literatue Class

10-second review: A typical method for teaching literature in the secondary schools.

In Lynn Johnston’s comic strip, For Better or For Worse, a teachers is assigning the reading of a novel.

Panel #1: The teacher speaks: “O.K. class. You have each chosen a novel from my list and I expect most of you have finished them.”

Panel #2: The teacher continues: “Your outlines are due next week. I want a summary of the predominant ‘theme.’ What was the writer trying to say?”

Panel #3: The teacher continues: “I want an analysis of the story development. Separate the main plot from the subplots. List the outstanding characters and establish their relevance to the story.”

Panel #4: And on: “What elements were used? Where was the ‘tension’? Where was the ‘turning point’? And what was the ultimate ‘resolution’?”

Panel #5: Two students are leaving the class. One to the other: “Man! She sure knows how to kill a good book.”

Another example of a typical class in literature: In the movie Peggy Sue Gets Married, Peggy Sue, who has returned from the future to the 1960s is in English class. The teacher is “discussing” Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. All of the students are sitting passively listening to the teacher, while a single student disagrees with the teacher’s interpretation. The teacher’s explanation is cut short by the bell, and as the students gather their books to leave class, calls out the homework for the night: “Don’t forget. The first chapter of The Great Gatsby. Enjoy.”

Comment: What is wrong with these two scenes? RayS.

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