Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Aesthetic vs. Efferent Reading: Yay Reader Response!

Honestly, what I liked best about the readings for this week is that they emphasized the process of having fun and enjoying reading and learning. Lately as I have been designing my lesson plans for student teaching, I have started to think about the relevance of making learning fun. Again, as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been hearing Jack in my head, telling me that English teachers spend too much time trying to make school fun instead of trying to make it useful. When he said that I was in complete agreement, but I think that there is a key point here. Fun for the sake of fun is not doing students any good. However, if we are able to make school fun and educational, then students are going to be more engaged. They are going to remember what is happening because we will be experiencing something memorable. You can tell students all day long that it is important to learn. You can even convince them of why they should learn something and they may work to learn it. However, if you do not make the lesson memorable and meaningful, the students are missing out on something greater.
Using Jack again, I’ve also found myself disagreeing with the whole anti-reader response thing. Yes, I do not see it as a vital critical veil for literature. However, I do think that it represents more of an aesthetic approach to literature, which I believe is often lost for many students. Part of reading is enjoying it and experiencing it. Literature can teach us about other perspectives. It can enlighten our minds into new territories. It can also be an escape from this world. The greatest moment of reading is that moment when you are completely lost in a text. It is that moment when you lose all sense of time and you enter into a state of flow. It is when you truly enter that other world. I want students to be able to experience this, and I’m simply not sure how. Do students need to first understand how to read a text critically before they can learn to enter it? Or is it a completely different skill and appreciation? I feel like when we force students to spend their first reading writing question marks and looking for different representations or language, they are separating themselves from the text. They are onlookers instead of participants.
If students enjoyed reading and were able to experience it, I then think that they could go back and look at it critically. I just wonder how to invoke this kind of reading in my students. I think that Schwartz offers a look into how teachers can approach this idea. His ideas of connecting poems with videos is great for making a memorable experience for students at the same time that it forces them to think critically about the meanings and connotations that are being developed in the poetry. It forces them to look at a poem through different lenses, as they experience it through a different media. I also like that Schwartz has the students pick a poem themselves, read it, and make it their own. This example really introduces using technology as a way to advance learning. It shows how students have to be playing with multimedia techniques if they are going to possibly understand the images and ideas that are being thrown at them every day. Literature cannot just be read through books, because books are not the only messages that are being used to socialize us each and every day. Students have to be working with these kinds of technologies and understandings if they are going to be able to critically respond to the world around them. It is not really a question of if these new literacies should be addressed but rather how can they be addressed most effectively.

My link for the week is about how to get students to enjoy reading. It talks more about how to avoid excuses of students saying that they do not want to read. It falls under the assumption that if we can just get kids to read then they will enjoy it.


1 comment:

  1. I love your resource link! So simple, yet so true. We really do force our student to complete assignments with every word they read and I'm sure it stifles a love for reading somewhere down the line.
    I also appreciate the way you are looking for a balance between reader response and critical reading. Much like you said, I think when students are told they cannot have a personal response to reading, they tend to shut down to a text. At the same time, it is so important that we push them beyond that into the realm of critical thinking.