Teaching Dark Lord

rohina at shaw.ca rohina at shaw.ca
Thu May 16 00:07:20 EDT 2002

 > In response to Robyn, I think that accepting differing opinions 
> from students in
> class doesn't give them the idea that they are right.  With luck 
> it will teach
> them to accept differing ideas from their own students...  Yes, 
> you should
> challenge them a bit, but I think it's better to challenge with 
> "But what
> about..." than "That's wrong!"

I wouldn't generally say "That's wrong" to a student's opinion of a 
book (unless they made an error in translation or interpretation which 
was creating some strange reading - I teach a lot of Chaucer); my 
comment was addressing Jackie's original statement that she didn't show 
her disappointment. See, to me, "I disagree with you, but I respect 
your opinion" is a more powerful teaching tool than simply 
saying "Okay". Especially when students make negative comments about a 
work, I would always give them a counter opinion. Even at the most 
simplistic level, I think, I want them to understand why I valued a 
text enough to put it on the syllabus.
Although I think I am maybe a more challenging teacher than most North 
Americans would be used to. I had a student say to me that she really 
hated and liked the way I responded to her statements by saying things 
like "That's interesting, have you thought about x?"

> 1.  No, I wasn't asking, I was suggesting it could be discussed in 
> class!
> 2.  Yes, but _why_ are snakes associated with evil in these 
> contexts?  What is
> it about snakes that thay have wriggled their way into the evil 
> imagery of so
> many traditions?  (This is a serious question that I couldn't 
> begin to answer!)

There is a simplistic start of an answer in the idea that a lot of 
ancient native and pagan religions revered snakes and/or snake 
god/esses. Subsequent religions then turned that worship of old gods 
into something evil. Eg St Patrick getting rid of the snakes out of 
Ireland = druids.

But I also think that in that tradition that revered snakes, there was 
a healthy dose of fear. Some Australian Koorie traditions have a snake 
deity (Rainbow Serpent, I think? I have a friend who knows a lot about 
this tradition and she has a spiritual affinity with snakes), and 
Australia has a lot of pretty dangerous snakes - it makes sense to fear 


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