July 17, 2006

Getting passionate about literature and writing

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:39 pm by mrsmauck

Reading this book is like having electrodes hooked up to my brain, with inspiration currents buzzing straight from the pages to my mind. It’s awesome! A few thoughts:

One of Fried’s anecdotes involves an educator who teaches a course called Life Relationships. This woman is truly courageous when it comes to education: she had her students choose the topics they would cover and how long they would spend on them during the first week of school, and then even allowed them to create some of the test questions in small groups for each unit test. What does this have to do with being a passionate English teacher? That’s one of the things I love about this book: the anecdotes are such that no matter what subject or grade level you teach, you can gain something from them. But I digress. Being a Future English Teacher in rural Oklahoma means that I will probably never teach at a school that offers a Life Relationships course–but the topics this teacher covered are so important! Things like love, dating, parental relationships, sex, etc. These are issues they actually think about everyday! And issues that come up often in literature! One of Fried’s components of passionate teaching is connection to the real world, along with collaboration and respect. I think it would be great if the students and I could have totally forthright discussions about these issues as they come up in literature. You know, the whole reader response school of literary criticism. Has this ever happened to you? How would you respond in this situation? What can we learn from this character’s experience with these serious life issues? (Obviously, these questions are a bit contrived and silly-sounding. The tone would be much more conversational and text-specific in the context of my classroom.) When students see that they can actually learn how to live better lives from literature, that’s when it comes alive, and when the knowledge and skills they’re gaining become real-world applicable. This is when the environment of respect and collaboration is strengthened: as a community of learners, we see that we’re discussing important, universal issues–not just subject-verb agreement and dead white guys.



  1. Jimmy Jimmy! said,

    But alas, most teachers don’t fully understand or appreciate what literature or stories of any kind have to offer. The collective wisdom of the ages takes a back seat to higher marks on standardized testing, and set curriculum in which information is only regurgitated.

    Downright Blastphemous if you ask me.

    Functionality and rigid comprehension are valued before meaning and humanity.

  2. Kim said,

    What I like about Fried is that he says we don’t have to worry whether most other teachers are dispassionate about their work; we have to press on against the odds, and draw our energy and enthusiasm from the students and from ourselves.

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