Monday, April 29, 2013

Funny things happen when teaching multiple grades

I've been teaching literature to my students (grades PreK, 2,3,5,8,9) using Teaching the Classics:  A Socratic Method for Literary Education.  I highly recommend it!  The Socratic approach is useful for teaching any subject, and this program has helped me not only teach literature but to do a better job with our other subjects.

But back to Literature.  The beginning of the program uses short children's stories to discuss plot, character, theme, etc.  I simply start out asking the youngest kids questions and work my way up.  I  often ask my 5 year old about the characters.  He can name them and the older kids can add in some more information.

We have now moved on to something more substantial.  Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  Today I introduced the book and read a synopsis from our accompanying study guide.

Now we get to the funny part....

Our 8th grader was flipping through the book and discovered this page near the beginning of the book

Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot. (BOLD MY EMPHASIS)
                                      BY ORDER OF THE AUTHOR
                                      PER G. G., CHIEF OF ORDANCE
I looked up to find a few kids staring with wide eyes.....oh no....we are supposed to find the plot!  "Maybe we just shouldn't tell anybody," whispered one of my younger students.
So, do I...
1.  Go with the sneakiness.....we'll find the plot, we can find a plot in each chapter if we want to...but we had better close the blinds and whisper. :)
2.  Let them know it's only a joke.
I just don't I want them thinking that it's OK to do something we are clearly told not to do, as long as we don't tell anyone?  That would be so much funnier (and more exciting) than telling them the truth.  Maybe it's just getting late, but I am finding this quite funny myself.
Maybe we'll just go with it for a bit and then read the story of the little girl whose father takes her out to the field at night so she can keep watch while he steals.  He tells her to let her know if anyone sees them.  She periodically tells him that someone sees him.  He looks up, sees no one, and continues to pillage.  Finally he gets annoyed and asks why she keeps saying that.  Her reply is that, "God sees us."  Then I'll tell them the truth.  

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