Thursday, December 1, 2011

The End of an Era!

And so, at long last, we come to the end of our time with Persepolis. Today was the test, which means I got to spend both classes walking around the room watching people take the test. Which is boring yet also strangely satisfying. 

The students seemed fairly confident about their answers, and I only got a few looks of despairing confusion. 

When many of us think of education, we imagine a foundation of knowledge, and we imagine ourselves building on that foundation. We introduce concepts so that we can build on them and move on to more complex concepts. When you are an English teacher, you think, "They don't seem to know what 'theme' is. I will teach it to them, and then we can move on and explore the way different authors develop their themes." And you go over "theme," and you define it, and discuss it, and do activities with it. And, for the most part, they correctly answer the questions on the quiz. And then they forget it. And you realize that, there was not a strange gap in their education--all their previous English teachers have taught them what "theme" means, every year since they were young, and when they got to your class they still acted as though they had never heard the world. 

After awhile you get tired of hearing, "Give me the test, quick, before I forget everything!"

Nowadays I don't have unrealistic expectations about these things. I knew yesterday, when I included a theme question in the Persepolis test, that multiple students would ask me, "What's a theme?" The same students who asked me last time I gave them such a question. Since I knew that going in, I didn't let it bother me.

Okay, okay, I'm generalizing here. . . I do have students who know what a theme is, and theme is a trickier concept than plot. But you get the idea. My students tend to be so focused on "What do I need to do in this moment in time, to pass this test?" that they often overlook "How can I internalize this concept so that I might be able to use it later?" Maybe that's a natural side-effect of the way our educational system is structured; who knows?

Still, I am going to hold on to the belief that, by reading Persepolis, they have learned something about Iran, and expanded their understanding of the world. That's totally possible. 

No comments:

Post a Comment