Teaching Dark Lord part 2

jackie e stallcup jstallcup at juno.com
Fri May 17 12:10:33 EDT 2002

Hmm, those are interesting questions.  I don't see the students in this
particular class as complacent or dense;  many of our previous
conversations have demonstrated a lot of analytical ability from most of
them.  The question of "why did I have them read this book" came up sort
of obliquely on the first day, but our conversation was careening around
and I didn't really answer it, if I remember correctly.  By the second
meeting, I think it was more clear to them why I had, without having to
address it specifically.

Thinking about this a bit further though... maybe I could say that there
is a sense of complacency in that some of them have fairly conventional
ideas about what constitutes good or bad literature (and adolescent
literature in conventional terms is usually immediately suspect).  But
we've worked through a lot of that; it's an attitude that I get them to
question within the first two weeks of class.  We also question a lot of
the assumptions that adults hold about children and teens.  If anyone is
interested in the theoretical reading that we do, I can send you some

Perhaps there was a sense of complacency in two more minor ways:  some of
the students don't read fantasy and may have automatically assumed that
fantasy is not "literature" or not to their liking, whether they have
tried it or not.  And some of the students had specific ideas about what
is supposed to be in fantasy and Jones plays with those ideas, which can
cause confusion and discomfort--and hence a poor response.  I think both
of these issues were cleared up by the end of the discussion, and my
telling them I was disappointed wasn't necessary to that process.

As to their expectations of their own students, I get the impression that
they believe now that they will encourage the students to question what
they say.  When actually faced with it, however, it's hard to say how
they (or anyone, really) will react.  This again is part of what I see as
ingrained cultural concepts about appropriate behavior from children and
teenagers.  I think that it is a lot easier to celebrate rebellion and
questioning of authority in theory than it is to deal with such students
in reality.  This is, again, why I spend quite a bit of time in the class
getting them to delve into and question their assumptions about
childhood--and trying to get them to recognize when these assumptions
sort of rise up and take over the critical thinking process...

Not trying to open a new can of worms here, but...

Jackie S. 

On Thu, 16 May 2002 18:36:14 -0600 rohina at shaw.ca writes:
> > I decided to tell them that I love the book and was disappointed 
> that
> > they had hated it--disappointed in the sense that I thought I was 
> > givingthem a fun send off and that it had backfired.  They all 
> > looked quite
> > surprised, so I guess I had hidden my disappointment well on 
> > Monday!  
> > However, it also seemed to make them feel badly, as if they had 
> > hurt my
> > feelings and there was a lot of backpedalling--which was not my
> > intention.  Although it made them return to the text for another 
> > look, it
> > also seemed to make them feel as if their response to it had been 
> > wrong. 
> Goodness, they sound a bit complacent and dense: I'm glad you shook 
> them up. Did any of them wonder why you set the book before you told 
> them your opinion? Perhaps they are not in the habit of questioning 
> things you tell them, which would explain their second response. I 
> would love to know what they expect their students to do - question 
> or 
> accept things the teacher says.
> Robyn
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