The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Doctoral Student (and Full-Time Teacher)

September 27, 2010

Reading Rosenblatt

Filed under: Uncategorized — rachaelski @ 12:15 am

As part of my class obligations for a course titled Studies in Literature for Teachers (or something like that), I am responsible for blogging about a text I am reading. It works out great for students, we get to select the text we are reading and we get to deviate from the traditional reflection paper! Student choice = happy students. It’s funny how the basics of teaching stay the same, whether it be middle school, pre-school, or graduate school.

For my independent reading text this semester, I chose Making Meaning with Texts: Selected Essays by Louise Rosenblatt (2005). Before this summer, I had never heard of Louise Rosenblatt, let alone read any of her work. It’s actually quite sad, because she has been publishing since the late 1930’s, which is no small feat for a woman at that time (which may explain why I had not heard of her prior to this summer). Rosenblatt was part of the Reader-Response school of thought.

Rosenblatt went to school at Barnard College, which was the women’s college of Columbia University. At Barnard, Roseblatt roomed with Margaret Mead, who later became an important American anthropologist.

Margaret Mead

She was also influenced by John Dewey, who was a professor in the philosophy department at Columbia, when Rosenblatt returned to Barnard to teach.

John Dewey

The first chapter of Making Meaning with Texts: Selected Essays gives readers an overview of Rosenblatt’s Transactional Theory of reading. This theory, which is not to be mistaken with a method or reading, states that there are two stances when one reads, efferent and aesthetic. Efferent reading is when the reader is looking to take away information from a text. In contrast, aesthetic reading is close to what teachers may describe as “reading for pleasure.” In aesthetic reading, the reader creates meaning within themselves. Rosenblatt contented that the majority of reading done in schools focused on the efferent stance, and assessments reflected that.

We live in a world of extremes, it’s A or it’s Z, you are on my side or you are on his size, Team Edward or Team Jacob. It seems that we have to pick one side or the other. However, Rosenblatt did not see reading as an experience of extremes. In fact, she points out that a reading experience is hardly ever completely efferent or completely aesthetic. Most often, a reader has both experiences within a single text. Twilight would most certainly NOT be described as high-brow literature or comparable to the beloved canons, but it is not impossible for a reader to have an efferent experience when reading Twilight. The same can be said with reading the newspaper. News writing is, at most, at the 8th grade reading level. It’s style is meant to give readers the main point quickly. The purpose of a newspaper is to read for information, to read efferently. However, it is not impossible for a reader to have an aesthetic reading experience while reading the newspaper. Perhaps it is the tactile interaction that one’s hands has with the dependable newsprint. It may be the reading of a particularly moving obituary, or perhaps it’s a notable image.

Monk Setting Self On Fire- Vietnam War

The most important thing to keep in mind when reading Rosenblatt is that the reader plays a vital role in the reading experience. The reader’s response and interpretation of a text is as important as the text itself.

September 26, 2010

BLOGGING ABOUT BLOGGING or reintroducing rachael’s blog

Filed under: Uncategorized — rachaelski @ 11:10 pm

I am resurrecting my blog, The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Doctoral Student (and Full-Time Teacher), as part of a class assignment. I created my blog just after reading Sherman Alexie’s book The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian (which, by the way, is on several banned books lists….crazy), and I just loved the title. I am debating changing the title of my blog, since it’s no longer a true description of me (I am now a full-time doctoral student). What do you think, readers?

I’ve taken a stab at blogging on several occasions, including this blog. I first began using this blog about a year ago, with the intention of sharing my experiences as a teacher, an education PhD student, and also a person who went the non-traditional route to become a certified teacher. I posted weekly for a while, but as time went on I stopped prioritizing it. Soon after, I created a blog that chronicled my cooking experiences. That blog is linked to this one, if you look at the menu on the right, it’s the link “My OTHER blog.” I had quite a bit of fun with that one. I love to cook and I am a big fan of the visual element of food. My husband gave me some tips with using lighting when photographing food. I got pretty good at photographing my food. However, then came mid-April and May, when papers were do, and I fell off the cooking, photographing, and posting wagon. Plus, I got pretty tired of having lighting equipment in my kitchen.

Fish Tacos

For me, the biggest problem I have with being a blogger is the commitment. I am dedicated, obsessed really, for a while, and then something else happens to distract me. I think I am a great winter-time blogger, when it’s cold I am more likely to cook (and I am a champion of the soup) and stay in in the evenings.

I love blogs that are truly an interactive experience, when the blogger responds to comments or shares ideas or comments made by dedicated readers. I loved the blog Jen Loves Kev, which is a hodgepodge of blogging topics. The blogger, Jen, is a former art teacher, who just had a baby. Her blog has a great structure to it, and I feel it represents the life of half of a young, married couple. Before having the baby, she did daily “Teacher Style Files” which highlights what she wore to school. I loved that element when I first began reading, because Jen buys most of her clothes second-hand, and I had just decided to try buying only secondhand clothing. In addition to the style, she shares recipes and puts together outfits for readers looking for suggestions. Overall, it’s a fun blog.

The best blogs also integrate media. Pictures, video, sound bites….all of it makes for a fun reading experience. Below, I am sharing a video that a friend from college made with her friends. She’s also a teacher. As an Ohio girl, I have big love for this video!

Hope you enjoy this blog!