Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Literature Discussions

Question: What happens when students initiate the questions and carry out the discussions of literary works?

> “Literature can be understood in different ways.”

> “It is valuable to hear what others think and to consider various possibilities before reading a final determination of what the piece says to you. Understandings are not complete when the reading is finished.”

> “Literature is real: the problems and issues discussed in class relate to problems and issues that people experience in real life.”

> “Literature discussions are an arena for sharing and testing ideas without fear of being attacked for having an opinion that differs from those of others.”

> “Thinking deeply about reading and sharing that thinking is an expected part of the class.”

> “Ideas of all class members are valuable.” P. 65.

Quote: “Allowing students the opportunity to develop and discuss their own questions and to dominate the discussion can be very frightening for the teacher. I worried about losing control and about not covering the ‘important’ areas of the curriculum. What I discovered was that the students could be trusted to ask important questions, to address the important issues seriously in the literature, and to listen and learn from one another.” P. 71.

Comment: A chapter in my book, Teaching English, How To…. (Xlibris 2004) describes how and why I initiated discussions based on students’ questions. I will take the next several blogs to share excerpts from that chapter. RayS.

Title: “Literature Discussion: A Classroom Environment for Thinking and Sharing.” Elizabeth Egan Close. English Journal (September 1992), 65-71.

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