Post-Structuralism and Reading the World

Raph here.

I have just a few things to mention pertaining to Chapters 7 and 8 of the Appleman reading. First, her mention in Chapter 7 (“From Study Guides to Post-Structuralism”) of the changing role of the English teacher reminds me of  Retracing the Journey and a point made by Jerry this past Tuesday night. Whether or not the students like what they read, it all comes down to the questions we ask. As Appleman describes the transformations that occurred in Marsha Cosgrove’s classroom as a result of teaching multiple lenses to her students, she mentions how Marsha managed to move from “center stage to ‘off to the side'” (121). The teacher has to ask the right questions and become a “nudger of minds” (121). Christenbury’s class claimed to hate Death of a Salesman yet they found plenty to talk about when she managed to ask them the right question, so she was able to move “off to the side.” Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason, there is no structure connecting different concepts. Like Marsha states in her Oz analogy on page 123: “One of the magical parts of teaching for me is creating circumstances for students which result in a magical act of understanding, of realization.” As teachers I feel we should strive to create that type of magic in our own classrooms, and teaching critical theory may just be the key needed to unlock the  proverbial door.

As for reading the world (Chapter 8), I agree with much of what Appleman states, especially on page 143: “students need to learn to read the world around them in order to function as literate participants in an increasingly complex society.” Now, I hate Bono and I hate that song  where all the celebrities sing “I believe that children are our future,” but when I look at my 3 year old niece, I actually fear for her. Living in a time when the most powerful country in the world can go to war for whatever reason its leaders deem fit and where a college student can be assaulted and arrested for practicing his constitutional right to free speech I can’t help but feel a responsibility to inform and educate. “Critical lenses allow us to look at something in different ways to understand what is taking place around us” (142). These readings (Appleman, Tyson, etc.) are essential for us if we hope to make the slightest bit of difference.

Sorry, but I have to cut this short because I have to go eat, but please respond, let me know what you guys think. Godspeed

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Post-Structuralism and Reading the World

  1. jillian24

    We’ve been talking all semester about being teachers who enact change and about the political institutions that make that change difficult. Still, I think Appleman (and Rafe) bring up a good point that the responsibility of teachers is changing already. Being educated was originally a luxury of the rich and was used to entertain other weathy individuals through stimulating conversation. The newer, more practical applications of education make it necessary to teach a different kind of knowledge. As we have been discussing, the ability to think critically, use technology, etc. take precedence over stimulating discussions of great works of literature. So, our focus shifts. Since our focus is now the students instead of the works, it makes sense that those students will do most of th talking. Teachers will become facilitators and be “off to the side- and that’s a good thing.

    Jillian

  2. jillian24

    We’ve been talking all semester about being teachers who enact change and about the political institutions that make that change difficult. Still, I think Appleman (and Rafe) bring up a good point that the responsibility of teachers is changing already. Being educated was originally a luxury of the rich and was used to entertain other weathy individuals through stimulating conversation. The newer, more practical applications of education make it necessary to teach a different kind of knowledge. As we have been discussing, the ability to think critically, use technology, etc. take precedence over stimulating discussions of great works of literature. So, our focus shifts. Since our focus is now the students instead of the works, it makes sense that those students will do most of th talking. Teachers will become facilitators and be “off to the side- and that’s a good thing.

    Jillian

  3. jmdegan

    I’m rather glad to hear that I had some positive contribution to our last discussion.

    Isn’t the end of education always to fade (as teachers) into the background as students are more and more capable of mastering the material we teach?

    I think our greatest questions are about how we get to such a point.

    J. Degan

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