May 4, 2006

But do I want to teach The Handmaid’s Tale?

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:59 pm by mrsmauck

I’ve heard that the things you find most interesting, your students are guaranteed to find stupid and boring. Is that a completely cynical point of view? Because it really just breaks my heart. I wrote a couple days ago about a newfound literary love, The Handmaid’s Tale. Then I read Dana Huff’s post on teaching The Great Gatsby, one of her favorite books. According to her, and an article in NCTE’s English Journal by Rebecca Hayden titled “Teaching Works We Love: Hazards of the English Classroom” (which is NOT available in full text on any of my search engines), teaching works you love is perilous. This has been a nagging fear of mine ever since I jumped headfirst into this teaching English as a career thing: won’t I naturally want to teach the works I feel strongly about? To Kill a Mockingbird and The Outsiders come to mind… I’ve got a reading list for this summer, and I plan on posting my thoughts on teaching those works as I read them. I think the thing is, when you think about the units and themes you want to do in your classroom, you begin to find works that fit into that, and you begin to feel strongly about those units and themes. (That’s what teachers do, right?) When you’re personally connected to a work, I think it’s best to just do what Huff did: tell the kids how this book changed your life. It might not work for them the same way, but I hope that something they read speaks to them and helps them see the world a bit differently.



  1. Anonymous said,

    Have you ever read “Shoeless Joe Jackson”? It’s the book “Field of Dreams” was based on. It’s really good! I think it depends on how you teach books you are passionate about as to how your students react to it. Plus it depends on how your students think of you. If you are a cool, hip teacher and love a book, they may love it too. If you are an old fuddy duddy and love a book, they may think it’s cool to hate it. Or they may just think it’s cool to hate it anyway. I guess you have to approach with caution? This is Lissa by the way.

  2. Kim said,

    Thanks for the advice, Lissa! I’ll have to check out Shoeless Joe Jackson. I’m reading “The Da Vinci Code” right now, in preparation for the movie coming out this weekend!

  3. Anonymous said,

    I just started it! Our minister has been doing a series on the truth behind the book. It’s so intriguing that now I want to read the book!

  4. NYC Educator said,

    I think there is no risk whatsoever in teaching books you love. Your passion can be infectious. The risk is when someone forces you to teach Ethan Frome, and you can’t for the life of you figure out why you’d want to read it, let alone a bunch of 16-year0old kids.

  5. Kim said,

    Thanks for the thoughts, NYC! I desperately hope I’m able to choose the works I teach for that very reason.

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