Sunday, June 10, 2012

Teaching Irony in Literature

Note: Normally, I do not publish my blog, English Updates, on weekends. However, I publish several other blogs during the week having to do with ideas in English education that are not current, but still useful. On weekends, I will publish samples of these ideas. RayS.
Question: Which is more effective in teaching a literary skill, like irony, direct instruction or a method in which students develop their own methods of interpreting irony?

Answer: Both methods were statistically superior to no method at all. “(1) a direct method…which attempts to give students conscious control of the interpretive strategies experienced readers use to understand irony [or] (2) a tacit method, which seeks to have students develop their own strategies through extended practice with the genre.” P. 254.

Comment: Both methods worked. The key, of course, is to teach the skill, directly or indirectly, the latter being the “discovery” approach. The latter would probably take more time. But both worked. RayS.

Title: “Teaching the Interpretation of Irony in Poetry.” Michael W Smith. Research in the Teaching of English (October 1989), 254-272.

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