03 January, 2010

assigned reading

I am relieved to remember that I still have a handful of days at home before I have to return to the rigors of a new (and final) semester. My brain is reluctant to slow down when I consider all that I must accomplish between now and May:
small group
maintain friendships

Tis the season for headbands, for I have acquired five in the past week. They are the best remedy for a bad hair day, which I am certainly experiencing today. I haven't the energy to shower. Showers are such a pain. Headbands are the remedy. Grace made two of them by dismantling floral arrangements and using hot glue; they're adorable. And Guion gave me a gorgeous one from Anthropologie that will be featured in our Save-the-Date photo (we had a brief shoot with Grace yesterday).

A man came into the bookstore today to buy "Beloved" for his daughter. I told him that it was one of my favorite novels and his reply was that she had to read it for a high school assignment. My heart always sinks a little when I hear that. My assumption, proper or not, is that these students will read these great books and hate them because they are assignments and then never want to read them again, attaching the memory of high school drudgery to Morrison's name forever. I think one of the main reasons I love books as much as I do is because the great ones I got to read were rarely ever assigned. Since I was young, my mother turned me loose in the library and let me read literally anything I brought home. When choice is involved, the chances for love are much greater. (The same could be said for arranged marriages, perhaps.) I think about how I would solve this problem if I were a high school English teacher, though, and my belief becomes complicated. It would be impossible to teach if I let students choose what they wanted to read among five different novels. I don't know the answer to this dilemma, but the way they teach kids literature in school is the primary reason I'd homeschool my children. After tutoring English in public schools, I find traditionally educated kids who love to read something like Christmas miracles.

I am reading "Absalom, Absalom!" because there are at least 30 reasons why I should love Faulkner but don't.

Obvious numbers: This is my 200th post on this blog, and my first post of 2010.

"'I don't plead youth, since what creature in the South since 1861, man woman or mule, had had time or opportunity not only to have been young, but to have heard what being young was like from those who had.'" Absalom, Absalom! William Faulkner


Anonymous said...

listen, i guess i'm a christmas miracle. bitch

Montessori Elementary at Home said...

You are so correct in your observation on choice. There are some scientific studies that show this starts very early on.
My son started school at a Montessori school, where choice is King. I'm not sure how they treat the literature at high school level in Montessori, but I am certain they aren't all reading the same book at the same time, and it isn't assigned.
I imagine there is a choice within some limit. In a Montessori classroom you rarely see two children working on the same material, yet there is a calm purposeful energy in the room. Each child is encouraged to research and learn as much as they can about subjects they are interested in learning. And they are allowed to talk with each other and collaborate. It really is a beautiful thing.
We now homeschool because of the cost of tuition. If I could afford it he would probably attend through high school. We Montessori homeschool.
Thought I would leave this comment for you to think about as you get ready to embark on building a family. I wish I had started earlier on getting the materials, etc. for our homeschool adventure.

Guion Pratt said...

Dearest Anonymous,

Watch your mouth with my fiancée, you cowardly tart.

Chris Jones said...

To the contrary, virtually all of the novels I have read were assigned reading. Much as I enjoy rereading Keirkegaard every fall, I have few fonder memories of reading than The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn sophomore year.

Then again, I no longer make the effort to read fiction at all anymore. Maybe I'm proving your point...

Chris Jones said...

I took the bitch comment to be tongue in cheek, for what it's worth. However, there is a plausible reading of the Christmas miracle remark which is a tad condescending. (Not that you should change it, Abby.) Anyone who has ever met a homeschooler has a valid basis for preferring that reading. :)

To anon., I don't think she meant that it's rare -- merely surprising given their methodology.

Chris Jones said...

"no longer...anymore"

I ban myself.

Emma Refvem said...

you should read "as i lay dying" because it's my fav faulkner. and, christmas miracles of christmas miracles i learned to love him senior year in regular school! but i trace that directly to my teacher, who is the best. also i liked the books that i got to choose or that i read before i read them in school, but when school taught me how to better read a book, i liked them more.