Class 2: Discussion and Lecture
Reading: Showalter, chaps. 1-3; McKeachie, Intro, Chaps. 1, 4-6.
Select outside literary work. Sign up for Presentation dates.
Showalter lists seven sources of anxiety in teaching: lack of training, isolation,
teaching versus research, coverage, performance, grading, student evaluations. Which
of these, if any, can you relate to? Why or why not?
In her chapter discussing theories of teaching, Showalter asks the question: Why do we
teach literature? A big, messy and wonderful question! Perhaps any class on teaching literature
should address this at the start. Why do you [want to] teach literature?
Evaluate the objectives she lists for teaching literature on page 26.
What is your teaching persona? Think of a "telling moment" in the classroom that reveals to
us (and your students) your teaching persona and be willing (please) to share this in class.
What kind of teacher are you? What kind of teacher do you want to be?
Does your teaching self correspond to your teaching theory? And that means ....
What is the role of close-reading? (This is not an opportunity merely for bashing New Criticism.)
After reading these introductory chapters on teaching, what areas of teaching strike you as most
worth our attention in class? Methods? Theories? Classroom management? Grading? Problems? Preparation?
Housekeeping? Your teaching development? Others? Brainstorm and let's see what we want to put
on the syllabus.
In McKeachie, please review his "philosophy" of teaching (pp. 5-6) and evaluate.
Also note the bibliography and list of references in both works. Put an asterisk next to ones that
might be worth looking at for your book review assignment.
Active learning and discussion
Showalter and McKeachie agree that active learning methods in the classroom are the most effective.
My experiences suggest the same. Let's focus on what active learning is and how it is achieved.
Reading questions: to promote active reading, one can supply directional questions on the literature
before the students read. For examples, browse the courses
on my website. Evaluate the reading/discussion questions for any given class. What are they
aimed at? What objectives might they achieve?
Reread the sections in Showalter (53-55) and McKeachie (39-41) on leading discussions; pay
particular attention to the types of questions that promote good discussion. What are they?
As a group read Blake's
"The Lamb" and "The Tyger". Take ten minutes and write down two good discussion questions using
the strategies mentioned. Share these with the group and discuss the different outcomes.
In both effective lecturing and effective discussion, good listening skills are essential for a teacher.
Practice your listening skills in this exercise. Without taking any notes, listen to the story I tell
you. When I am through take three minutes to write what the story is about drawing on as many details
as you can remember. Share these with the group and discuss the role of listening and memory. What
does this exercise tell you about listening in the classroom?