Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Literature Workshop

I'm now reading The Literature Workshop by Sheridan Blau. I went ahead and purchased this from Amazon because I figured, since I'm going to be a high school English teacher, that this book would come in handy. Although, I could say the same about most of the books I've read this semester. I like having my own books because then I can mar up the pages without any residual guilt : )

In the first chapter there are a few pseudo case-studies of actual classrooms. A quote from the second classroom really caught my eye. "The only texts worth reading are texts you don't understand." WOW! That really hit me for some reason. Maybe it's because I have a slacker streak in me that doesn't like when I don't understand something on the first read through. Maybe it's because I feel guilty about my new voracious YA lit appetite (super easy reads that I justify by saying I'm "keeping up on what's new"). Whatever the reason, this quote has made me want to start reading some more challenging texts. Poetry would probably be the best place to start... : )

The third case study has a hypothetical classroom where the professor "teaches" the student by telling them about the text. This seemed fine to me until I read Blau's explanation of why this is not helpful. If a teacher merely teaches the text without showing the student HOW to learn from a text, they are doing the student a disservice. There's a difference between teaching a text and teaching how to read texts that I didn't realize until just now. I agree with Blau when he states that a lot of pre-service teachers feel overwhelmed at the thought of teaching a text that they haven't been taught (kind of a tongue-twister...). But, instead of teaching only the nuances of Faulkner or the differences in Petrarchan and Shakespearean sonnets, it's more important to teach students HOW to interpret what they read. I think it's going to be a tough job, but I'm hoping that I can figure out how to do it. I'm guessing Blau is going to help me figure it out : )

1 comment:

lindsay said...

I'm happy to hear that you went ahead and purchased The Literature Workshop. I do think that you will find it helpful over the coming decade. It has been a favorite of the high school teachers who go through the LMWP Institute for several years now. What parts of textual analysis and interpretation seem most interesting to you? Do any of Blau's examples of "readings" (i.e. feminist readings, marxist readings, discourse analysis readings, historical analysis...) seem particularly worth learning more about to you?