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LAE 6389.001 Practice Teaching Literature

Class 2: Contemplative Pedagogy; Training Teachers

    Class Objectives:

    Exchange Anthologies
    Vote on Class text
    Introduce / practice Contemplative Pedagogy
    Discuss Teaching Training

    Reading Assignment:

    Mary Rose O'Reilly, Radical Presence
    Selections from draft handbook on Contemplative Pedaggogy from the Center for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education
    Showalter, ch 8
    Eble, chapter 16 The Craft of Teaching in course docs.

    Notes and Discussion Questions:


    O'Reilly's suggestive prose offers much to think about. What does it mean to say, "To Teach is to Create a Space"?

    Explain what O'Reilly means by presence as a aspect of hospitality. What does she mean by presence as a way of classroom management?

    "I think the task of our time -- and really it is a poet's task -- is to find words again that will mediate between spirit and matter," (13). What does this mean to you?

    What can you learn from her description of "An Experiment in Friendship"?

    "Still, I must return to a point I've been making all along: whether we are aware of it or not, professional life tends to be dominated by one or another set of metaphors. We have to be conscious about the metaphors we choose to describe our relationship to students, and resist those thrust upon us by the marketplace. Will you slide into the role of the friendly shopkeeper, or will you choose to situate yourself in a tradition that calls the best in you and your students to account?" (23)

    Her advice to the worried seminar leader in "Listening like a cow" is "Pay attention." How and why is this useful advice?

    How might contemplative approaches guide one-on-one teaching or mentoring?

    What sort of internal divisions (such as intuitive versus analytical) occupy you? How might you turn this into productive dissonance?

    "What are the conditions that might make it possible for us to operate at a modest level of prophetic inspiration, to bring a daily beauty to our lives, sustaining to ourselves, our students, and our communities?" (39)

    Showalter: Teaching Teachers (Chapter 8)

    In many ways, this chapter is about our class, and we might use it to reflect on what we are doing here and how effective it is. What ideas does this chapter suggest for your training as a literature teacher?

    Evaluate the three developmental stages of new teachers mentioned on p. 113. How do these categories sound to you? Are they helpful for understanding your own experience?

    Choose any one of the case studies from Showalter's seminar (pp. 117-124) and analyze it. Try to answer the questions she asks at the end of that subsection.

    Eble: Preparing College Teachers (Chapter 16)

    Writing originally in the 1970s, Kenneth Eble's important book presents us with the argument that breadth (rather than specialization) is essential for college teaching. Why? To what extent do you agree with his assessment? What questions does it raise for you?

    I wanted to include the chapter particularly because of the emphasis on learning theory, which we otherwise will study only tangentially through McKeachie. Evaluate the main principles with empirical support that he provides on pages 202-203. How might these influence the way you teach literature?

    I share Eble's belief and think it is key to successful teaching, though it can be difficult when you are nervous, defensive and beginning to teach: "Let me address myself directly to some of the attitudes I hope beginning teachers will bring to teaching, whatever the content and quality of their graduate work. The first is generosity. aristotle made much of thwat is commonly translated as magnanimity, the sufficienty of person or possessions that makes generosity possible" (207). Which attitudes seem most important to you and why?


    Active learning and discussion

    Assignment: Practical on Editions

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