interwebbing the undoable

I dig the expanded ‘text’ presentations, discussions and materials, provided by Text Book, for the most part. I also enjoy the range of questions and assignments, although certain ones bother me quite a bit. I just keep coming back to Textual Power and one Scholes’ goal in particular: “Our job is not to produce ‘readings’ for our students but to give them the tools for producing their own,” (24). I’m conflicted. Text Book requires a lot of in-class help to actually provide students with the necessary ‘tools.’ I know, all textbooks and course materials require in-class discussions and guidance, but Text Book almost teases students by allowing them a certain level of comfort with difficult concepts, through blurbs of explanations, and then throws curveball questions to purposefully knock beginners off their metaphorical feet. I am unsure what falls within Gee’s “regime of competence” and what introductory students will simply deem “undoable,” (Gee 68). For example, the questions for Plath’s “Metaphors” would have to be an in-class project: “The poem is a riddle, with each line providing a metaphoric clue to its solution. Solve the riddle, and consider how the relationships between the metaphors contribute to its solution,” (74). Since the “Metaphor in Three Poems” (72) section is still in the very beginning stages of the metaphors work, I have to wonder if this poem is still within or beyond “the outer edge” (Gee 68) of beginners’ ability and more importantly patience. If you were to assign this section as homework, then the question should actually read: “Google this poem.” Yes, the internet answer is a real danger for all homework. However, if students feel confident with their own scholarly abilities and that the level of questions posed are actually in their grasp then the danger of Wikipedia-in-defeat is less. Did Textbook provide the confidence and tools to dive into an on-your-own, sink-or-swim hypothesis for “Metaphors”? Maybe I just want to be there to make sure nobody grabs for their laptop buoy before they get their feet wet. Lots of Scholes questions and material are dancing on the outer limits of beginners comfortably, good. Great, actually. But these outer-edge materials are admittedly scary and given the opportunity a lot of beginners avoid scary. I know, it’s me. I have to trust my students. I would still feel more comfortable tackling Kafka’s “On Parables” in class. I know, it’s not just Text Book, it’s all assigned material, but I can’t help thinking of some texts as just better suited for in-class or some materials require more than a definition and a blurb before, “Good luck!” and waving them off to Sparknotes. End on a positive: I really liked “Constructing and Analyzing a Random Assemblage” (85) and the fun discussions and assignments centered on surrealism.