Sunday 25 July 2021

How can a personal response method lead to knowledge about text?

See 'Understanding Teenagers' Reading', Jack Thomson, 
Ch. 4 'Exploring Response',
Ch. 5 'Practice: Examples of Teachers at Work'.

This is a great book - over 30 years old now - exploring theory and practice in the area of school students exploring books.

In recent years, the emphasis in teaching around literature has shifted more and more towards 'knowledge about text'. It was deemed that making space for children or older school students to find out what a text did for them, was irrelevant and only further advantaged the advantaged. So they upped the amount of knowledge required which also coincidentally made the assignments and exams easier to mark which also coincidentally has made it easier to grade students and assess teachers. As the grading system fails about a third of all students, I don't see where the 'advantage' is getting in - the 'advantage' that they claimed would result from their 'knowledge about texts' approach. 

So, if you're interested in exploring the 'effects' of a text on real live students before having to tell them what the 'effects' are first - thanks to the requirements of the curriculum, then these two chapters are terrific - as is the rest of the book.  

This is the work we do on our 'Children's Literature in Action' module as part of the MA in Children's Literature at Goldsmiths, University of London - which of course you are welcome to apply for!