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

November 13, 2010

Ch. 5- The Literary Transaction: Evocation & Response

Filed under: Uncategorized — rachaelski @ 8:26 pm

Sometimes you read an article, chapter, or section of a text and you fixate on a single statement. Reading Ch. 5 of Roseblatt’s Making Meaning With Texts, I had that experience. This section was a more practical (as opposed to theoretical) approach to Rosenblatt’s efferent and aesthetic reading stances. Rosenblatt surveys from birth through adulthood the role of language and reading in a person’s life. She explains that young children are much more inclined to engage in aesthetic reading, but that traditional reading instruction pushes more efferent reading.

While explaining reading transaction, Rosenblatt describes the different between efferent and aesthetic reading. She explains, “In efferent reading, the child must learn to focus on extracting the public meaning of the text,” (p. 77, my emphasis). I read that statement and it hit me like a ton of bricks. THE PUBLIC MEANING. That statement conjures up so many thoughts into my head, but most importantly it give me a clear example of what exactly efferent reading entails–“finding” the publicly accepted meaning of a text. After reading that sentence, I wondered if efferent is the public meaning, than would aesthetic be one’s private meaning? It makes sense, something private can be secret, or one’s own. When we read aesthetically, we are interacting with the text, finding and creating meaning.

However, I don’t think the private meaning of a text has to be secret. Book clubs offer the opportunity to read aesthetically and to share one’s private meaning with close friends or mutual readers of the text.

A second part of the chapter that drew my attention was the story about the little girl who learned the rhyme about Christopher Columbus. Her teacher taught her:

“In fourteen hundred and ninety-two

Columbus crossed the ocean blue.”

However, the next day the little girl came back singing her own version of the song, citing that she preferred her own rendition:

“In fourteen hundred and ninety-three

Columbus crossed the bright blue sea.”

When I worked at KIPP, one of the popular teaching tools (particularly for rote memorization tasks, such as naming the 50 states or multiplication tables) was the chant. Creative teachers would create or borrow chants relevant to classroom lessons to help students master material. Rosenblatt’s example begs the question, are the students learning the concept meant to be taught, or are they learning what they deem to be important (in this case the rhythm of the song).

In this video, you see the kids “rolling” their numbers, or as we old people call it…times tables. The kids do the 3, 6, and 8 tables. Rolling one’s numbers entails raising a finger each time you say a number….the idea being if the kid wants to figure out 3×3, they sing their song until their third finger-3, 6, 9. However, I observed students not concretely making the connection between their song and their fingers. Does taking an efferent task (times tables) and mixing in an aesthetic medium (singing) work, or will the students learn the “wrong” lesson?


1 Comment »

  1. I’ve had it work and not. It really depends on the tune I think. I just fear it being overdone, and as you say without comprehension to go with it.

    Comment by Penny R — November 14, 2010 @ 1:58 pm | Reply

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