Thursday, October 01, 2009

Digging In My Heels

If they get NOTHING else out of reading this play, I want them to be able to read dramatically. Lord, I am SO SICK of listening to monotones!

We're talking about the ways that actors show emotion in tone of voice and facial expression. They don't want to do this. They don't want to perform the play (they say), they want to read it out loud in parts during class. And they want a study guide with questions that have answers that can be found directly in the text. And the test should be taken directly from that study guide.


I am SOOOO against that. It astounded me that they were willing to say that - and, in fairness, I'm pretty sure they realized that, because they prefaced their comments with things like "I don't want this to come out the wrong way, but..."

I don't blame them - they're certainly not dummies. It's safe. It's predictable. And it's what they're used to, which is what frustrates me the most.

They want to be sure they'll get a good grade - and with the least amount of work possible. I can dig that. I really can. But that doesn't mean I'm willing to just let them memorize a bunch of crap that they can forget for the rest of their lives. It's a waste of time - mine as much as theirs - and I don't want MY time wasted!

So I think we reached a compromise. They will read the play on their own and do thinking-work that helps them understand it and will prepare them for dramatic reading and/or discussion. They are free to use tools like Cliff Notes / Spark Notes or other supplemental texts to help them understand. (The lit book has summaries of each scene.)

The next day, those who have completed the thinking-work to my satisfaction will be allowed to participate; those who don't will be sent to another teacher's room to finish it on their own.

They want me to give them an easy way out. And I'm not going to. I'm NOT.

Image thanks to

Also: due to class on Thursday nights, which I'm stressed & tired enough that I'm skipping tonight, I'm changing my post schedule to Sun/Tues/Fri next week.


Joep said...

Thank you for your remarkable account of the struggle between the boring format school education comes with and the sparkling experience of genuine discovery and exploration.

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