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Jackson Stewart
Jackson Stewart

Incredible English 3 Teachers Book


Weaving in the Women , by Liz Whaley and Liz Dodge. Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Boynton/Cook,1993. High School English teachers can welcomea new resource book, by Liz Whaley and Liz Dodge, on strengtheningthe curriculum with the addition of more books by and about women.Weaving in the Women, published by Boynton/Cook, is crammed withideas and titles, references and suggestions of how -- and why-- to expand standard materials. They write, "We think thejury is in and that the research is clear on the need for allof us to study about all of us in order to have a fuller understandingof humankind .... Those of us who treasure words and books ....must continue to demand that women's writing be recorded, published,valued, shared, and taught so that everyone can know the truthof those experiences." (263) The major portion of the book is devotedto ways of changing and adding to specific high school coursesbeginning with the 9th and 10th grade, and progressing to Americanand English Literature courses. This for mat makes it possibleto turn quickly to sections that will be immediately useful toa teacher. Each chapter is rich in specific recommendations,and each includes a Suggested Books for Students list, as wellas a list of Useful Books for Teachers, which are often anthologiesfor further materials or background reading. The chapters on American Literature (dividedinto four quarter sections) are especially detailed. The 18thcentury section begins with strong narrative material on AnneBradstreet, the poet, and Mary White Rowlandson, an account ofher capture by Wampanoags. As in many instances throughout theirbook, Whaley and Dodge give wonderful stories and anecdotes toenrich their suggestions. They also discuss familiar writingsof the American "canon," but re-visioned by the additionof women authors. One of their common recommendations formaking changes is to pair a familiar story with a rediscoveredone, such as pairing the tale of "Rip Van Winkle" with"The Revolt of Mother," a 19th century story by MaryWilkins Freeman. Students may then compare the writers' ideasand points of view and/or ask questions about differences in outlookrelated to gender issues. Later on, chronologically, storiesby Hemingway and Faulkner could be balanced with stories by K.A. Porter or Eudora Welty, and-again-examined for gender differences. For modern American fiction, the authors suggest the additionof such books as Cold Sassy Tree and The Bean Trees. The section on English Literature givesseveral ideas for adding women authors, even for the years priorto 1850. One notable "pairing" is to link the poetPope with the poet Sarah Egerton, who was writing wonderful coupletsin 1703 lamenting the exclusion of women from philosophy, science,and art in "The Emulation." (161) Unexpected ideas suchas this one are found throughout the narrative. Some modern Englishbooks for study include The Road to Coorain and Westwith the Night as the authors broaden the base of Englishto include former British colonies or areas of English influence. In addition to these excellent chaptersof specifics for different courses, the authors include a specialchapter on the importance of changing methodology as well as content,in order to bring in more student participation. They stronglysupport the concept of student centered learning, which is explainedin detail, and contrasted with traditional classroom teaching."In the end, what is gained from weaving in the women isthe empowerment of students, female and male. Students get excitedabout learning and want to know more. They want to make moreand more connections to what they've read previously and to theirown lives." (259) Whaley and Dodge also include a chapteron evaluation techniques with many alternatives to traditionaltests. They share a variety of ideas for papers and projects thatcan reveal a student's understanding of the material, and alsocall for creativity in student responses. An excellent descriptionis given of how to develop an Oral Final Exam. Yet another chapter takes time to focuson studying women characters in various novels, as drawn by maleor female authors. Some of the negative images in Hemingway andFitzgerald are contrasted with positive portrayals shown in Catheror Hurston. As a special gift, the authors add a wholechapter outlining an elective on Women's Literature, which, initself, is worth the price of the book ($19.50). They includethe rationale and general objectives of such a course, as wellas dozens of references which would make several summers' worthof fine reading. "Women's literature courses ... seek ...to claim for women their equal place in the world and to retrievetheir accomplishments throughout history so that people can studyand evaluate them... (Such courses) should contribute to the emancipationnot only of women but of men too, from the rigid roles to whichthey have been socialized." (217-218) The concluding Bibliography is of immensehelp to the searching reader, with a range of further materialsto consult. Even the Index is a pleasure to sample, sending thereader to specific items that might other wise be overlooked. This book helps resolve the issue of "inclusion." Teachers everywhere can rejoice that much of the work of "how-to-do-it"comes in this resourceful package. Cheers to Liz Whaley and LizDodge for their courage and persistence in providing such an outstandingvolume. Margaret Carlson Re-educating the Imagination: Towarda Poetics, Politics, and Pedagogy of Literary Engagement by Deanne Bogdan. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook, Heinemann, 1992. Deanne Bogdan's work on literary engagementis a densely packed and enormously thoughtful -- often passionate,and consistently thorough --consideration of the realm of theimagination in a post-structuralist era. It warrants very specialattention and deserves the care required to appreciate its impact. Bogdan probes deeply issues pertinent towhat literary texts we teach, (termed a "censorship problem"),why we teach them (the "justification problem"), andhow readers respond to them (the "response problem"). Thus we have three angles of the "meta problem" thatframes Re-Educating the Imagination . Issues about thetexts we teach, why and how we do so are posited as critical variableswhich are greatly influenced by the contexts in which variousliterary selections are taught, not to mention the power dynamicsand politics of that con text, and the often intense and deeplyingrained feelings that teachers and learners bring to text andsituation. As a reader of Re-Educating the Imagination (whether as literary theorist, researcher, or practitioner), oneis likely to respond with gasps of recognition and close attentionas Bogdan scrupulously constructs and situates critical assumptionsunderlying the book. These assumptions are that literary experienceis a form of real experience, that literary response is an embodiedform of knowledge shaped by each reader's personal and sociopoliticalbackground, and that literature has the power to evoke deep politicaland social effects. The title of this book is quite provocativeand, no doubt, as painstakingly thought through as the foundationand development of its key premises; our own imaginations are,in fact, being re-educated as we read. We are led to recognizethe significance of classroom experiences that, in a feministand multicultural world we cannot have escaped. The "re-educatedimagination" is one that melds the direct and embodied literaryresponse and objective critical response; conjoins the politicaland the literary; and unites the worlds of ordinary existenceand imaginative experience. Without discounting the literary worldof imaginative experience and the objectively critical-even anatomical-appraisalof literature (literary literacy), Re-Educating the Imagination insists that the flesh and blood, real-life political realitiesof "ordinary" readers are to be given logical priorityand importance. Reader's direct and embodied responses to literature(literary experience) bring us face to face with decisions aboutwhat we teach, why, and how, and the feelings, power relationshipsand locations in which that teaching is conducted. Our "reeducated imaginations" are aligned with a Platonic literaryuniverse. According to such a world, the imagination could beall too easily bewitched and thus demoralized by the power ofpoetry. Censoring, justifying, and responding to literature were,then, matters linked to whether or not and how the literary textrepresented the values promulgated by "the state." We are led, then, to appreciate Sidney's imaginative domain, whereinliterary text is responded to with the assumption that it represents,upholds, and reinforces the ethics and aesthetics of a Christianworldview. And onto Shelley and the Romantics where the literaryimagination is broadened to become a world of its own-one lesstightly linked to a societal ethic and much more a magical worldof its own making. Bogdan then visits the literary critical domainof the man whose work she has studied most closely, Northrop Frye.For him, we learn, the literary text is an order of words, a mythologicalimagery to which we respond with an "educated imagination"-- a detached, objective and critical attention that acquaintsitself systematically with the verbal structure as well as theworld outside that literary text. It is after these views of theliterary imagination are rendered that Re-Educating the Imagination becomes most vibrant, most brimming with the passion and verveof the writer's beliefs. Bogdan tells us that "[p]art of mypurpose in writing this book is to make a case for reversing thelogical priority of the critical response --on ontological andethical grounds as well as psychological and pedagogical ones"(p. 111). We read about feminist readers who have, with greatpain, lived and responded to a life-text that has disenfranchisedand angered them. As Deanne Bogdan writes about how such readersrespond to literary texts that do the same thing, we are broughtfully round to an appreciation of literary experience as all tooreal, literary response as shaped by each reader's personal andsociopolitical background, and the power of the literary textto evoke deep political and social effects. A feminist readerdoes not accept a literary text that represents a patriarchal"state," nor will she respond with the demure assentthat literature reinforces an accepted moral and aesthetic fiber. It is particularly the feminist reader who would read a sexisttext and become enraged by it, who would disclaim Frye's educatedimagination -- an educated imagination that could hold that textat a critical remove and dispassionately critique its mythologicalorder of words. The flesh and blood readers introduced by DeanneBogdan are the same readers we all work with in our culturallyand sociopolitically diverse classrooms. They teach us that literatureis not simply an order of words or a keeper of "the"norm; it is virtual experience that can influence for good aswell as for ill. As Bogdan puts it, "[i]f the educated imaginationpositions the reader within the interpretive process of the verbaluniverse, the re-educated imagination makes the material realityof the reader's subjectivity a primary condition of incarnatingthe Word" (p. 208). Re-Educating the Imagination isa probing exploration of the role of the reader set against adetailed backdrop of consideration. Ultimately we are led torecognize the incredible complexity entailed in questioning whatliterature we teach, why we teach it, and how it should be taught,especially as we follow that "meta-problem" into thepost-structuralist territory of feminism. This is an importantbook. M. Alayne Sullivan Missing Chapters ,Virginia Monseau and Jeanne Gerlach, Eds., NCTE, 1993. The effect on future teachers and practicingteachers who use this text will be positive: inspiring and informational. These essays about English educators who are women serve to reinterpretsome of English education and the history of the National Councilof Teachers of English, precisely because they are about women.Nick Hook points out that the Council was never very sexist, sayingthat 14 of the 40 presidents between 1929 and 1968 were women,although the Executive Committees had relatively few women inthem ( A Long Way Together , 232). However, what we haven'tseen before is what the nature of those experiences was for womenwho were leaders in the years 1929-1960. It is, therefore, importantfor our students, both male and female, to read these essays sothat they can see what women are like who gain equality with menin the career they have chosen ( No, I don't think we have comevery far in that regard in either secondary schools or colleges)and so that they will be better able to contribute to the professionand to their own students. This volume may contribute towardswomen increasing their confidence and participation in controllingwhat they teach. It is as important for men to read it. Malestudents represent a small percentage of incoming teachers; however,the two or three males in every methods class carry far more weightthan their numbers when they get into secondary schools. Maleshave generally had more say in curriculum matters and become departmentheads, curriculum directors, and administrators more quickly thanwomen. This volume may tacitly help males understand that theprofession reflects the larger culture in its discrimination againstwomen. Missing Chapters is good reading,partly because it is various and partly because it shows womenin the context of a history that matters to anyone connected toteaching and especially to those who look ahead to the professionof teaching as a powerful mission. The book is various in theways that it sometimes centers on the women leaders' personallives, most often of professional lives, and steadily on the issueslived through their publications and activities. One of the authorsinterviewed Lou LaBrant just after her 100th birthday. And tolearn more about Rewey Belle Inglis, Dora V. Smith, Luella B.Cook, and Louise Rosenblatt, for example, is enough justificationto read the book all by itself. This is a very fine volume which at thispoint only a few of my students have read. All of the readershave been women, and all have liked it very much. This comingwinter quarter I plan to use it in my methods class (along withMilner and Milner, Bridging English, and Christenbury, Making the Journey ). Our preservice teachers need to knowthe history of their own profession to learn a significant partof their own origins. I recommend it to you with enthusiasm. H. Thomas McCracken Failing At Fairness: How America'sSchools Cheat Girls. Sadker, Myra and David. Charles, Scribner's Sons: New York, 1994. Throughout the history of American Education,girls and women have worked hard to find equitable educationalopportunities. In the earliest times, women were barred from schoolattendance; however, existing letters and journals dating formthe 1700's reveal young women's desires for formal learning. During the past two hundred years the climate appears to havechanged radically, and women are able to pursue an education oftheir choice. But such freedom in choosing does not, the Sadkerscaution the readers, result in fair schools. Rather, they warnthe audience that today's schoolgirls face subtle and insidiousgender discriminations that have a powerful impact on girls' achievementsand self esteem. Drawing on over 25 years of research, theauthors show the audience how gender bias in the schools makesit impossible for girls to receive an education equal to boys'.From classroom observations in elementary and secondary schoolsas well as in colleges and universities, interviews, and individualstories, the Sadkers show the readers how girls are routinelydenied opportunities in areas where boys are encouraged to participateand excel. For example, girls and women are often taught to speakquietly, to defer to boys and men, to avoid math and science courses,to value neatness over innovation, appearance over intelligence. As a result, the Sadkers found, that while girls and boys enterschool roughly equal in ability levels, by the time they graduatefrom high school, girls have fallen behind. Girls score loweron standardized tests where high test scores are crucial for entranceinto most colleges. College women continue to score lower on allportions of the Graduate Record Exam which is necessary for graduateschool admittance, the GMAT for business school, the LSAT forlaw school, and the MCAT for medical school. The Sadkers' researchresults indicate that women continue to trail men on most testsbecause from elementary school through higher education, femalestudents receive less instruction, both in quantity and qualityof teacher time and attention. Sexism at school not only sabotages girlsacademically, it increasingly complicates their lives in a varietyof ways including eating disorders, incidents of school-basedsexual harassment, teenage pregnancy followed by school drop out,low self esteem often accompanied by severe depression, and economicpenalties after graduation (e.g. low paying jobs, salary discriminationbased on gender, etc). What all this means, the Sadkers concuris, "If the cure for cancer is forming in the mind of oneof our daughters, it is less likely to become a reality than ifit is forming in the mind of one of our sons. Until this changes,everybody loses"(p. 14). Professors Myra and David Sadker have writtena candid account of how schools fail girls. They hope that understandinghow females have been cheated in the classroom will encouragepeople to work for change. Readers come to understand that ina society where men and women both make up the labor force, womencan no longer be denied an equitable education. "Schoolsthat fail at fairness deny boys a wide range of options and preparegirls for poverty" (p. xi). The authors are optimistic,however, in their belief that most educators want to provide opportunitiesfor personal and intellectual growth for girls and boys and menand women. The book, then, not only points out the existing classroominequities, but provides strategies, activities, and other resourcesdesigned to help educators succeed at fairness. Much of the efforteducators make to accomplish this goal, the Sadkers believe, willdetermine how we as a nation will thrive in the future. Jeanne Gerlach




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