Monday, April 11, 2011

A Teacher's Job Is To Making Life Difficult

One of the things I believe about science fiction is that it should be challenging. This is why I tend to get down on the Star Wars-type space operas; they're not particularly challenging. The hero fights the villains in spectacular ways, at the end there is a showdown, and then the good guys go have a party. The engagement is in the action, and that's fine for a certain level of entertainment (and I likes me my stupid entertainment every now and then), but what we should be teaching in schools is something high-level than that.

This is why I believe in science fiction and fantasy works as something to be taught in the classroom. These works should challenge students to think. They should engage the intellect and make you consider that which you haven't considered before. They should be hard.

During the last couple of months I've been teaching the Shakespeare play Much Ado About Nothing to my eighth-graders. After we learn the play, we perform it in the original language to the community. To be clear, this is hard. Students need to memorize many, difficult lines of Shakespeare. Students will need to speak these lines in a convincing manner. They will need to act on stage, speaking lines completely artificial in a way which must convince the audience that it's natural.

What's the goal of this? In the end, it's to show students what the literate life is about. It's about making much-loved classics alive. It's about cultivating a love for great works by showing young people that they are certainly not dead. Not only are they relevant, but these great works can be translated into modern settings easily, and they work. Now the goal of the teacher is to makes great works relevant and not approach them in a boring fashion (a mistake too often done). Yet once that hurdle is overcome, then miracles can happen.

1 comment:

  1. Find out what skills and experience your peers offer. How do you compare? Seek the advice of a trusted mentor or adviser to help you with this.