Question: What is one way for the English teacher to organize a discussion of literary works?
Summary of How to Organize Literary Discussions for Full ParticipationBased on my experience in working with students, I had to make several modifications to the Great Books discussion technique. I introduced the students to the literary work in an attempt to motivate them to read it, and the students, not the discussion leaders, posed questions about what they did not understand.
Raising questions about poems and previewing short stories and novels to raise questions in class virtually assured that all students had been exposed to the literary work. Since many of the students participated in raising the questions, they also become involved in the discussion
The activities that lead to full participation in literary discussions are students’ speculating about the puzzling meaning of poems, short stories and novels and by my asking the questions, ‘What do you know?’ and ‘What don’t you understand?’
Following students’ discussion of what they do not understand, teacher and text book questions might be introduced, and, if available, literary criticism can be read to compare students’ and professional critics’ interpretation.