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

November 13, 2010

Ch. 7 Literature–SOS!

Filed under: Uncategorized — rachaelski @ 9:21 pm

In this short section, Rosenblatt discusses the possibility of reader-response researchers and practitioners being in danger of shooting themselves in the foot. At the time the piece was first published (1991), more and more research was being published about the importance of aesthetic reading and the appreciation of literature in English education. However, Rosenblatt cites one major problem: the words literature and aesthetic were not being defined in the research.

As most educators know, buzz words find a way of embedding themselves into education practice–best practices, student-centered, literature circles, and measurable learning outcomes are just a few of the many buzz words in education. These words represent something valuable in education, but just like a game of telephone, the meaning gets lost somewhere along the way.

The clearest example I have of this was during my teaching last year. I was very excited to introduce my students to literature circles in my classroom. After talking with a couple students, I learned that they had done literature circle in their class the previous year. Because of this, I decided to spend less time practicing the mechanics of the literature circles with my students. Later, I found out that the teacher had all the children reading the same book….in a circle. Not exactly what I pictured when I talk about literature circles. However,  I think it is the perfect example of how big ideas get watered down into buzz words. Teachers feel the pressure to adapt, without the support or the desire to research how to adapt, and we get kids reading in a circle. I believe this is what Rosenblatt was trying to get at with this piece–researchers and practitioners need to be explicit when explaining or using a particular technique, otherwise we are all reading the same book while sitting in a circle.


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