The Texture Of Things

Questions Answered

January 6th, 2008

In the comments for the last post, Successful Reader coffeypot asked some good questions.

Successful Reader? Yes. If we accept my idea that Successful Readers do not always understand the text and if we accept Steph’s idea that they “disagree with what they read (or play the doubting game, or talk back to the text),” then yes, Virginia, coffeypot is a prime example of a Successful Reader.

First, his comment, which I quote here in its entirety:

Give them comic books, or something with pictures in it. Seriously, is this a required class or an elective? I think that would make a difference in how you present the subject. If it’s an elective you will have students wanting to learn or at least have an interest vs. those who are there because they have to be. Or am I missing the point here?

Let me clarify.

First, this is the course that comes before Freshman Composition I, so it is required for those who place into it – meaning, for those who were (through entrance exam testing) determined to not be quite ready for Comp I, which is a prerequisite for just about everything. In short, yes, it’s a requirement, but not for all students.

Second, the text is determined by the college. This term, it’s this book. I have to teach it and they have to read it and write their essays on it. As my commentary on the book, I will offer this: I love reading, I love science, I generally love history, and I am struggling with this book. It is hard to get into, hard to stay into, and at this point, hard to love. It is a good book; it just wouldn’t be my choice.

Third, don’t dismiss the comic book idea here, people. I already intend to bring in picture books, as I have done in the past with my Comp I and Comp II students. Put Me in the Zoo has a nice demonstration of introduction, argumentative thesis (specifically, position argument), and topical organization. The conclusion would fail for a college level course, but the book gets the point across for students who struggle to see how a thesis drives a whole piece.

That, I think, is another post.

I also have a handful of other children’s picture books that reveal different meanings if read from an adult’s perspective rather than a child’s. The Birthday Fish and Dear Juno are two that spring to mind at the moment.

So, I am not “above” bringing in easy reading if it can demonstrate something useful to more advanced readers. For me, that’s picture books, because I have access to a ton of them and I’m more familiar with the stories. Comic books have never been my thing, beyond reading The Watchmen for a college reading circle. (For the record, I was skeptical about the comic book/ graphic novel, but it was fantastic and I recommend it to everyone, particularly literature lovers.)

Coffeypot raises another good point about purpose, too. A reader’s purpose changes, based on what s/he is reading and why. A textbook chapter before a big test? A comic book for fun? Assembly instructions for jet pack? For this course, it’s a history text to write English papers on.

Okay. I’m done rambling. I need to finish writing my syllabus.
Much love and peace out, yo –

1 Comment »

  1. coffeypot says

    Man, I’ve NEVER been used for “Show and Tell” before. And to have actually made a plausible comment, I’m awestruck. I just wish my old college comp professor could see me now. I diiiddd it! I’m smmmaaarrrtt! Now, if I can get him to change my grade from a B to an A I’ll feel like I have accomplished something.

    January 6th, 2008 | #

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