Thursday, July 16, 2009

Today I read about what happens in a literary workshop. I found it interesting because I’ve never participated in anything like this. Blau writes about the workshop as if he were actually talking to participants, which made it easy to visualize what happens. There were so many interesting things that I observed and wondered when I read through the “scene.”

First of all, Blau instructs participants to read, in this case, a poem three times. After each read, he instructs people to rate their understanding of the poem. Then, people are to write questions and notes about what happened over the course of the readings. I found this interesting because I’ve never read a poem, or any story, like this. It made me wonder what I was missing!

Blau also told the participants background information about the author, which raise a lot of questions for me. I wondered if it was common to tell students the background information instead of letting them read it themselves. Later on in the chapter, Blau talks about how background information about the author can actually have a detrimental effect on a reader’s interpretation. I had never thought about it like that. In Eng 308 we were instructed to give the student as much information as possible about the subject. I never thought that this could impact the way the student interprets the poem (or story). I thought background knowledge was helpful? Blau says, "Teachers must depend on their own literary and pedagogical judgment to determine when they are approaching the point where they are being overly directive in providing background information for student readers, and when the absence of certain contextual facts could unfairly handicap student readers.” (pg 43) This must be the most difficult part about teaching literature. How do you walk the line of giving enough, not too much, information? It’s an interesting question that I’m sure most English and writing teachers face on a daily basis…

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