Teacher-Reader response

Well, if there’s one thing Text Book has reminded me, it’s that, as a teacher-reader, I am more interested in the passages themselves than in the corresponding questions.  I keep finding myself skipping the questions altogether—and I suppose, as teachers, we should be looking at the questions to get ideas how we could teach these passages or concepts to our students.  Still, the repetitive format of passage/questions presented for me a dilemma as a teacher-reader, and I imagine it might present the same concern for student-readers.

That said, this book feels to me like a postmodern (because it is fragmented and intertextual) reworking of Sound and Sense, which for some teachers is essentially the Bible of AP Lit.  However, it makes more sense as a text for the AP English Language class (taught in the 11th grade in most Fairfax County schools) because it really effectively focuses on the elements of language rather than literature.  The introduction even says so: “We hope to help you feel more at home in the house of language, and we are confident that a better command of written language will contribute to a better life” (xv-xvi).  Of course, now I’m distracted by the use of metaphor (“house of language”) rather than the point I was trying to make—oh yes, the authors intend for the book to expose readers to the various texts they encounter in everyday life and in the English classroom and to teach them to read more effectively.  I’m just still not really sure how effectively this book does that.

By introducing younger or less experienced English students to Freudian slips and the everyday uses of metaphor, they certainly are making important connections for the students.  My question is: would the student see these connections on his/her own?  In that regard, I completely agree with Faye’s question about teaching some of these works in/out of class.  The book seems to be geared toward high school or undergraduate students, and as teachers, I guess we are responsible for deciding how to teach this sometimes very random variety of texts.  I also wondered if these connections would be more meaningful to students because they are more common examples of literary techniques.  For that reason, I simultaneously found myself wishing I had enough copies of this text to pass out to AP Lit. students to expose to them the more “meaningful” examples of parables and metonymy, among other “things.”

Overall, I share the sentiment most of you have written about in your blog posts so far: I’m not sure how I feel about Text Book, but I can see that the book contains some useful sections and some other rather ineffective qualities, too.  I’m curious whether my feelings will change when we read the second half for next week.

One thought on “Teacher-Reader response

  1. Professor Sample

    I think you’re right on when you describe the book as a postmodern text book. Though, oddly, what it seems to be missing (though I’m sure the authors would disagree) is the playful tone that you might expect in a hyper-self-conscious text book.

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