Now, if we can only make the rest of the world see how much more valuable our teaching is and reverse the salaries!! Faulkner could be chucked and not missed? Toni Morrison is boring? Arthur Miller is irrelevant? Tennessee Williams is "stinking"?
If we gauged literary merit on what yr olds found exciting, we would be knee deep in Hannah Montana Chronicles and stolen MySpace Poetry.
Invisible Man would sell itself if presented correctly. Buy Double or Nothing by Raymond Federman and tell a kid it is boring. Kids would tear the covers off to read that book. I teach both honors and remedial English. When I show Death of a Salesman after reading it, I make sure the room is as dark as possible so the "tough" guys in my class can feel the emotion with some privacy. American Literature has a singular purpose; to investigate the power, capacity, value and depth of the common individual.
Every high school student high or low acheiving feels "out of place", unaccepted, or lacking in some way or another. Every great American work hits that point and hard. Abraham Lincoln as you prob know said to Stowe upon meeting her for the first time, "So this is the little lady who started the Great War! That seems too utopian.
Most American literature is just too darn boring. I agree about trying to inspire students! I seem to have accomplished this by accident with my own son as regards to American Lit! He recently won an English Prize and got to choose a new book. I wonder if your son knows that the the original title was "Something That Happened.
If you re-read it along with your son, you may find some interesting ways to direct him in questions he may have. All of the posts on this topic have been interesting, and sometimes even prickly I stink at confrontation, by the way - I think I have "confrontationphobia". What occurred to me in reading them, though, is that as teachers we need to figure out a way to inspire kids to read. He was put on a very tight leash after that, having to report to me everything supplemental he uses, as well as making sure he gets through the curriculum.
For all I know, that could be the book that really draws a kid into reading American Lit. What a shame it would be if I passed on my prejudice of the book and shot a chance at reaching a student.
I hated The Scarlet Letter in high school, but after having to teach it, I have such respect for the book. It is American gem, and so important to the recognition of how attitudes and communities developed during American colonization and beyond. In addition, I have had great luck teaching this to students. In understanding the inner workings of a novel and the authorial choices that help develop theme, it is the breakthrough book.
My suggestion - read Chapter One aloud, no matter what level the class is. Encourage students to illustrate the prison door and then explore the idea of criminality being a necessity to all socieities. Finally, a comment on colonial literature - why must we abandon it completely? While it might be lacking in stimulating details, some exposure to the attitudes and perspectives of the early settlers seems vital to understanding the development of the country. Why are Americans considered cocky?
Well, lets look at John Smith! As a high school teacher of literature, I am disturbed and saddened by many of these posts. If you hate a piece of literature, it is very probable you yourself have not understood or looked deeply enough. Why not try a section rather than the whole - could you not take the 3 day chase from Moby Dick or the opening scene from the Scarlet letter. Creativity coupled with reality is a necessary skill for working with complex texts. Now for the anti-American comments.
American literature is rich, varied, and so integral to our national identity. The Great Melting Pot, our Puritan roots, and the massiveness of our country blossoms in the ever evolving literature of the people of this great country.
I feel sorry for you and your students. You and they will never know or enjoy the beauty of words unless you step back, change your attitude, and spend some time working at being a literature teacher. I do not believe it is too utopian at all. I can think of just as many English authors who are not "exciting. They all had predecessors, American predecessors, in letters.
I do not disparage European authors, btw. I adore them too. I love the Bard, the Brontes, etc. In reply to 7 and 8: I think "disturbing" is too strong a word to use for our dislike of colonial American literature.
I understand that the colonists were too busy colonizing, building homes and cities, to spend time on the esoteric business of poetry or novel writing. Yes, that colonial literature has its place: My argument is that we spend so much time on the first two centuries of Am.
The story line is fine, but sheesh! The man took severe advantage of being paid by the word! Besides, snotty, snobby Pip should be slapped upside the head for the way he treated Joe. But who am I to judge literature? Getting assigned an 11th grade lit class would probably be enough for me to go job searching. To understand either makes the other richer. It just makes sense to me! God help me, the latter is required and I have to begin teaching it next week.
That will make everything better! Shame on you amethystrose! I do agree that Moby Dick would be one I would love to forget about. On a different note, has anyone had to teach a book they have really been bored with? Can it be done? I never intended to cause so much conflict. I guess we are teachers because we are passionate about the texts we teach. In that case, I think this conversation was a good idea.
Please forgive my brief foray into politics here, but I just heard a line from Barack Obama that gave me chills the good kind. Am I the only heretic here? What do you want to abolish? Expert Answers cybil Certified Educator. What are the obstacles to her quest, and how does she overcome them? A phoenix is a mythological, magical bird that bursts into flame when it dies and then is born again from its ashes.
The tapping noise she makes with her thin cane is compared to "the chirping of a solitary little bird. It is as though there is something magical about her that enables her to keep going, even at her very advanced age, as though she is born anew--rising from the ashes--each time she must make the long trek for the soothing medicine. She recalls a "two-headed snake coming around that tree, where it come once.
She even describes her grandson as peeping out of a little quilt, "holding his mouth open like a bird. If she dies, he dies, and so she wills herself to life each time she must take this journey.
There is something rather magical about her, perhaps stemming from the immense love she feels for her grandson and the responsibility she feels for him, and this allows her to complete the quest. Wikipedia defines a "quest" as "a journey towards a goal used in mythology and literature as a plot.
In literature, the objects of quests require great exertion on the part of the hero, and the overcoming of many obstacles, typically including much travel In literature, a quest can be as simple as going to the store for a loaf of bread. Phoenix Jackson begins her quest on a cold December morning. She already has lots of things against her:
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