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Friday, April 14, 2017

The frustration factor--again

As I'm trying to summon the whatever to churn through the essays for Nature in Lit, the wall I keep hitting is the frustration wall. Because the students truly do not know how to read with actual understanding--not even surface level understanding, a lot of the time--they are completely incapable of writing essays about the literature, so they end up pulling meaningless generalizations out of their left ears (or places less savory), and I am then stuck with having to tell them exactly why what they're doing is not working.

The sad thing is, I think they're all frustrated too. I first imagined sitting down with them on Monday to tell them how frustrated I am, but I think that won't do anything except make them even more frustrated and miserable. I don't know if there would be any benefit to talking with them about their frustrations, but perhaps. My plan at the moment--subject to change on a whim--is to talk first about the reading that was assigned but then ask them to talk about their frustrations, see if we can come up with any kind of solution. I may end up ditching the poetry I assigned for Wednesday--though I wish I'd spent more time on poetry and fiction and less on some of the essays.

I should be having a wonderful time: this class is my baby, afterall. But I am truly miserable with it, and as much as the students surely wish they could start all over (and probably choose a different class), I wish I could start all over, not only with what I assign but with how fast and fiercely I address the "Johnny can't read" problem.

Truly, the 102s are better. At least I expect them to struggle some with the reading--and they're struggling less, for the most part (though a few are every bit as lost).

I wish I could figure out a way to use my seminar hours to actually hold a seminar on reading literature as it needs to be read. My colleagues in the Reading department (and yes, that's a separate department at NCC) might howl with outrage, but truly, a huge number of our students need help, and I'd like to provide it.

Perhaps I'll propose it to Scott and Cathy, see what they think. I'm not sure how we could make it work, but I'm desperate to address the problem.

See? If I didn't give a shit, things would be much easier.

I would love to find a happy reframe, but not today. Maybe tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Tonia, I am 100% in favour of your proposed support measures. As I am leaving I can't take advantage of them directly but I too have come to believe that students need hours of work on basic close reading techniques -- and beyond -- else they and we continue to live in a world of tragedy without catharsis.