Life Notes - Teaching

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April 4th, 2008

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02:28 pm - Teaching
1. I have a blind student
Teaching him is like learning how to see the world in different eyes. I am grading him on Hamlet entirely now, because Keats and Jean Rhys have proven to be too visual.

I watch him work with a computer, playing only with cues on a world driven by icons and their placement on the screen, working with nothing but the sound of his keyboard and voice recognition. He asks me how is it possible to play a ghost on the stage, and that is when I realize that he has no way of realizing that a ghost is played by a white sheet draped over the actor. He does not notice the ghost in Hamlet. He notices Marcellus seizing Hamlet in Act One.

Maybe James Joyce and Milton are difficult only because those with sight have never learned to see the world in a different way.

2. After three years of teaching, I think I've finally arrived at a teaching technique that works
Unfortunately, it may be a while until I start teaching literature again, especially literature at a university level.

First two years: bumbled. Had no idea what a pain grading was going to be.
After a while: focused on grading.
Third year: Learned that the most important thing about teaching is deciding how you want to grade your students from the very beginning of the semester. Set questions for students right from the beginning. Give students those questions. Direct all classes to the answering of the questions.
After: Realized that sessions became extremely one-sided, with me giving input and not much output from students. Conrad Zaar on LJ reminded me that the function of a literature classroom is not to dictate values, but to help the student examine them.
After, proposal: Possibly, give students a broad theme to work with and a body of various texts to base their essays on. Spend tutorial sessions with them by discussing the angles they have taken in their essays, and how they choose to support it.

Here's hoping that I will teach again.

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