Dissecting the Frog

Very much on the mind and heart again.

Mysteries and Manners

Found this wonderful reflection at the Circe Institute from another English teacher like me. I can really relate to Mr. Kern describes here:

I’m torn between opposing approaches: 1) to break the work down so that they see the structures and the devices and all the things that we English majors find so fascinating but most students find so mind-numbingly similar to biology, and 2) to simply let the stories be, to them do the work themselves and to simply be a facilitator. The first option is practical and concrete and I can quantify my student’s knowledge and assess his understanding. The second functions within the realm of mystery and is less easily quantified. On the one hand I can dissect the work, on the other I can observe.

My instincts tell me to go with the second option but the strangest thing has been happening when I do: the kids…

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Dissecting the Frog

  1. I’m so glad you posted this again because I missed it the first time, and I love the thinking it provokes in me. I wrote in high school a little verse that expressed my frustration with this dissection. I don’t have it around any longer, but I remember the first lines, “Must we tear apart the thing, and analyze and criticize…” I’m afraid that back then I had no one to teach me how to apply my patience to literature; I wish I had had a teacher like you!

    • Hi Joanna,

      Thanks for your response! How beautiful that you were already thinking about these things in high school and expressing them poetically. I was probably more like my dissecting students. I remember very much disliking O’Connor (at first) in high school, because she was yet another author I thought was being confusing on purpose. My goal is to help my students have a different experience of her than I did.

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