All right, I tried to sleep but too many things are passing through my mind so, let's just have another white night (3 in 5 days!). It's 3:30AM, let's blog!
Let's talk about texts teachers should teach and how to teach them. Let's be honest, even though the risk is high to be controversial: no texts can be taught! A teacher can try to explain either his point of view or the documented one of the author but he can never be sure that the student will understand it the same way.
First, our language is a solid barrier restraining us from many additional sources of knowledge. My favorite book is "Cyrano de Bergerac" written by Edmond Rostand, a French author. But the English version doesn't reflect the exact feelings and emotions that the original French version does. The English version cannot be used to show all the values of this young and brave soldier such as his point of view toward fighting for impossible causes. The English version doesn't even mention that he believes that a fight is "encore plus beau lorsque c'est inutile" (it's even more beautiful when it is useless).
Second, our culture and believes are probably even stronger barriers, it's this simple factor which makes us building churches in the middle of nowhere or crash planes into towers. I remember often haven read the poem "If" from Rudyard Kipling to give me the strength to ignore people I loved, eventually giving me the strength to commit suicide. I know that this logic can be weird but if you read this poem carefully, you will detect in it a reason not to care so much about many things, usually these things which give us the strength to fight when our entire world seams to crumble. If you manage to break these links, you are free to do many actions such as ending your life!
Now, a simple text can be understood in many different ways sometimes even leading individuals in complete opposite directions. For instance, if you read John 13:34 in the Bible, you will read "love one another", some people might understand this commandment in such a way that they will go on the street and give all their possession to anybody while others might promote random one-night-stand with as many partners as possible. I am not sure myself in which way I should understand this sentence but even though a teacher might take several hours explaining me this very important book, at the end I am still the one who will need to decide for myself what I consider to be the true meaning.
In conclusion, I believe that an English teacher can never "teach" unlike a Math teacher for example but rather contribute to the individual development of his students abilities to become award of certain factors in a reading. And the student, as an individual with feelings and emotions, will use these factors to teach himself what he believes should be taken from his reading.
Posted by Marc Pidoux on 1/28/04; 3:07:38 AM
from the Blogs dept.