Monday, June 2, 2008

Literature and Personal Experience

The purpose of this blog is to share interesting ideas I have found in American professional publications dealing with the teaching of English at all levels, elementary, secondary and college.

Topic: Students’ Work Experience (Secondary/College)

Title: “Class in the Class: Sharing Bukowski’s Class with Community College Students.” Carlos Hiraldo. Teaching English in the Two-Year College (May 2008), 408-415. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English.

Summary: The author tries to make use of community-college students’ work experience in interpreting the literature they read. Emphasizes the works of Charles Bukowski.

Comment: This an example of an idea I encountered in reading the article which really does not summarize the author’s intent or the complete article. But the idea intrigued me. Many students in community colleges either work or have worked and I like the thought that their use of this experience could be a valuable asset in interpreting the literature they are reading.

I remember vividly one experience I encountered when the class in a community college was reading James Merrill’s “Laboratory Poem,” dealing with the treatment of laboratory animals by scientists unconcerned for the feelings and pain of those animals. Two students in the class had worked in such laboratories. I won’t repeat what they said, but it reinforced the meaning of the poem, created a better understanding of the real world of the poem and sparked a discussion by the entire class on the feelings of the scientist engaged in working with the animals, the actual focus of the poem.

I think we need to do a lot more with using the experiences of our students in interpreting the literature they read. RayS.

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