Bringing reading to life and life to reading

Being a lover of literature, and recognizing its role in on-going language development and enrichment, I thought again about what exactly makes it such a powerful art form. Literature inevitably speaks subtly different meanings to different people. Two readers are unlikely to react identically to any given text. This means that each learner’s interpretation is valid. It also means that a wealth of meaningful interactive discussion is likely to ensue since each person’s perception is different. With students all having a different interpretation and needing to justify their thinking, a genuine exchange of ideas can take place in the classroom.

However, some students can be reluctant to voice their opinions, so how best to encourage the less vocal ones to take more risks and share their thoughts with others, whilst also being open to other’s ideas, and making relevant connections with their own lives? In doing so, one would hope that they learn more about themselves in addition to improving their communicative competence and cultural awareness, especially as the literary works we explore deal with issues and experiences that affect all human beings. Literature does not trivialize or “talk down”. It is about important things that mattered to the author when he wrote them.

It will be interesting for those of us in DP Literature to delve further into the magical process of literature whereby symbols on a page transmit such powerful thoughts and feelings to others.

2 thoughts on “Bringing reading to life and life to reading”

  1. I am a lover of literature too, and find the experience of literature to be significantly expanded through discussion. Classroom oral discussion has a special place in exploring personal responses to literature, connecting that to what others experience, and reflecting on where the author was coming from. In some ways, oral face to face discussion has advantages, partly because after the discussion, details can be forgotten and as such private personal experiences that are discussed remain more private. Additionally, we all need to practice our speaking and listening skills!

    Facilitating the discussion in an online forum such as Grade level Google+ communities or a shared Google Doc can provide other advantages. All of the students can talk at once, students often take more time to formulate their thinking, students can get more responses to their ideas, and the discussion is documented for future reference of even continued discussion. One downfall I find to online discussions is that the discussions sometimes end after one post and one reply, but I suppose that can also happen in face to face discussions.

    Just as there are people who are reticent to speak in a group, there are people who are reticent to post in a group, and I think we all need to continually develop both sets of skills. I have to say that posting this comment has me a little on my toes, but if we were talking face to face I would feel more fluent and at ease.

    I look forward to reading more about your exploration of the magical process of literature!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Chelsea. I definitely agree that we all need to continually develop the skills involved in ‘speaking out’ in its various forms and to value the whole concept of being a risk-taker.

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