Losing My “Self,” Finding Their “Self”
Senior English Portfolio
A Short Note
I would like to take a moment and thank not only my professors who have obviously taught me a lot, but also my husband, Dustin, who, for the last two years, has been helping me find myself, while changing many diapers so I could write. I couldn’t have done it if God wouldn’t have sent me you. I love you.
Table of Contents
“Losing My ‘Self,’ Finding Their ‘Self’”…Self-Reflective Essay…………………………….....4
“Conceptual Framework”… Expository Essay………………………………………………...…7
“Media Violence”… Research Paper…………………………………………………………….10
“A Monkey’s Paw… Critical Essay…………………………………………………………......17
“Performance History: Macbeth Act III: Scene 4…Upper Division Writing……………………21
Final Exam ENG 36403… In-class writing……………………………………………………..29
“The Medea and A Doll’s House”… Expository Essay…………………………………………33
“Main Themes in ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’”…Expository Essay……………………39
“Hearing Loss in the Classroom”… Expository Essay………………………………………….43
“Teaching the Importance of Character in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men”
“Part I: The Social Commentary of H.G. Wells”…Upper Division Writing……………………54
“Part II: Teaching H.G. Wells”… Upper Division Writing………………………………….…..60
“Education and Liberation”…Senior Writing Project…………………………………………...62
“Losing My ‘Self,’ Finding Their ‘Self’”
Literature and Writing Seminar: ENG 49003
November 14, 2013
As I reflected on my five years at The University of Rio Grande I realized many things. The first thing I realized is that I have had the most amazing life experiences. During my time here I joined a sorority, became a leader of Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society, traveled abroad, married the man that was made for me, started a family, and essentially became a whole person. What I want to focus on for my portfolio is how the faculty has helped me become an unselfish educator. This faculty has helped me come to the realization that my grades should not be all of my focus. My professors have set a wonderful example and helped me to realize that it is not about myself, but about the success of my students and helping them find themselves.
As I grew up, my siblings, like most other families do, treated me like the runt of the litter. To avoid controversy I buried myself in my schoolwork and my personal endeavors. I was successful in my own work. I graduated fourth in my class, was a leader of many student groups (like Student Council, National Honor Society, Senior Class, and many other clubs), starred in many on stage performances, participated in show choirs, and was a 4-year letterman in varsity softball and a 2-year letterman in varsity basketball. Needless to say, when I graduated high school I was proud of my accomplishments, but I searched for a college experience that would give me something more, something that would complete me. Regardless of my accomplishments I felt like I was put on Earth for something more.
I focused on my schoolwork as I had in my past. Rio Grande presented me with a challenge and I was bound and determined to succeed. I walked into my first upper-level Literature class, Shakespeare from Script to Screen, and I loved it. I was so involved in discussion and was entranced by my own personal opinion and how much I liked expressing myself. Dr. Brown responded to my opinions like they were gemstones. I thought I was the most wonderful thing to ever step foot in Wood Hall.
I then familiarized myself with my professors. I figured that if I was going to learn from them I wanted to learn about them. This little girl was dumbfounded. My professors had led amazing lives, from fighting in wars, to writing books, to studying at some of the most prestigious universities around. My professors were like superheroes! Why in the world were they so modest? I couldn’t understand why they weren’t bragging about themselves the entire 50 minutes of class. I certainly would have. Then it clicked. They aren’t worried about themselves. They are worried about me. I was their priority. They wanted me to succeed, and, because of their dedication, I was going to succeed!
This changed my whole perception of education and I then decided to run my classroom in the same way. I will show my students that I really care about them and want to help them find their whole selves. I realized that it doesn’t matter what marks I have on a transcript. It doesn’t matter if there is a star beside my name on the graduation program. I am going to be a teacher- THAT MATTERS!
The most important lesson that my faculty members and advisors have taught me is not about Shakespeare or Ernest Hemingway. The most important lesson they have taught me is: To be a great teacher you must care about your students’ success, because their success is your success. I can’t thank my professors enough. They have helped me become a completed, self-actualized person and I will carry on their legacy through my teaching.
In my portfolio I have arrange my papers chronologically to show the change in my priorities. During my first two years (possibly three) I was grade driven and writing about a subject that I cared about or that would please my professor. “Media Violence” for Composition II was written to impress my professor. I have nothing against violent video games. In fact at this time I spent every Friday night at a friend’s house play Call of Duty until three o’clock in the morning. Likewise, in “Conceptual Framework” I wrote what I thought the School of Education wanted to hear, not what I believed. I mainly cared about sucking up to the professor’s wishes to squeeze the best grade out of them.
As I got older my life changed, as did the topics of my writing. After I had my child and was married I saw that the world did not revolve around me. I realized that the most important thing I will ever do is teach. I began to focus on the students in a more direct way. That year I wrote “Hearing Loss in the Classroom.” I finally started to focus my teaching around the students and their needs as opposed to what I wanted to teach them. Even in papers I needed to write to English classes that had no focus on education, I made sure to add how the topic could benefit my students (Part I and Part II of my papers focusing on H.G. Wells). As shown in “Education and Liberation,” I now care about what will benefit my future students and what will help them transform into a whole, self-actualized person. I understand that I cannot make every student love the content that I will teach, but I do know I can deliver the content in a way that is fair and beneficial to every student I teach. Through The University of Rio Grande’s English Program I have finally figured out that I was a selfish learner and now I can finally help my students find their self-actualization and become whole, liberated, critical thinkers.
Freshman Success: LA 11101
December 11, 2009
At the beginning of Freshman Success I thought the Conceptual Framework was just a hoop the University created for the education students to jump through. I thought a mere piece of paper could not have much value. As I continued to study the Conceptual Framework I found that it was so much more than a hoop. I discovered that it had a lot of meaning and worth. The Conceptual Framework is a guide that will help me grow and learn to be a great teacher.
The Conceptual Framework has three different main categories, and each category has multiple sublevels within it. The category I am going to start with is Best Practices. Included in this category is Subject Matter. Subject Matter is basically preparing me by insuring that I have all the knowledge in my subject and can understand and relay the information to my students.
The next in Best Practices is Planning for Instructions. This insures that I have knowledge of not only my subject but also my students and can plan to meet their needs. Many families may not have the best background for education and it is my job to insure that the students have the best opportunity to succeed in my classroom.
Third is Instructional Strategy. Instructional Strategy enables me to become a resourceful and effective teacher. Technology is essential in keeping students interested and it helps them to better understand the content of the lesson.
Lastly, the fourth sublevel is Professional Development. This sublevel merely states that I need to engage in life-long learning to better my teaching, to stay updated on technology and other advancements in my field, and to be a good role model and encourage my students to also engage in life-long learning.
Commitment to Diversity
Another category is Commitment to Diversity. A sublevel in this category is Student Learning. Student Learning better prepares me for a diversity of students that I may encounter. This insures that I have an understanding of how each student learns, the development of the student and a belief that all students can learn.
Diversity of Learners is another window in Commitment to Diversity. This simply states that it is crucial for an educator to recognize, accept, accommodate for and change with the different students that one may encounter in a career. Whether an individual has a cultural, physical or cognitive difference it is necessary for the individual to have the same opportunity as the other students.
The first sublevel in Professional Efficacy is Learning Environment. In this category I need to provide a physically and psychologically safe environment for all students to meet their needs. This means I will have to consider input from parents and the community, manage time effectively and teach the students about their place in the global community. To better my learning environment I will need to be enthusiastic about my subject and portray it with a sense of reason and student involvement.
Communication is next in Professional Efficacy. Communication states that I must make use of technology, speaking, writing, giving directions, and relating subject matter to the students’ interests so that the students may better understand the material.
Also included in Professional Efficacy is Assessment. This states that I, as a licensure candidate, must not only assess my students but must also assess myself as a teacher and learn to better my performance so that I may teach my students to the best of my ability.
Student Support is also very important in Professional Efficacy. This aspect states that I must be open to parental and community needs and input. I must consider other teachers’ and administrators’ advice and opinions and be sensitive and interested in others culture and physical and cognitive needs. I must sometimes accept unique ideas and strategies, and most of all I need to be a caring adult to help my students succeed in life.
Finally in Professional Efficacy is Collaboration. This is insuring that I listen to my colleagues and consider their strategies and advice. I must not do things my own way but instead I must be open to other teaching styles to create the best learning experience possible for my students.
In conclusion, I believe that all of the aspects included in the Conceptual Framework are absolutely critical for my teaching career to be successful. I believe that without the Conceptual Framework and all of its information, my students would be missing out on an opportunity for a great education. I plan to include every aspect of the framework into my classroom so I can give my students a great experience that will lead to life-long learning.
Composition II: ENG 11203
April 30, 2010
Quentin Tarantino, Director of violent movies such as Inglorious Bastards, Death Proof, and the Kill Bill series, once said, “Violence is one of the most fun things to watch” (“Violence Quotes”). It is easy to see by this statement and the capacity of Tarantino’s success that his audience loves violence. Today’s media preys on the minds of young children and adults and grasps a hold on the morbid curiosity that makes it hard for us to look the other way. The audience feeds off of the violence and in turn produces more of it (“Violence in Media Entertainment”). Soon violence becomes more of a problem and the community faces danger, disruption, and maybe even death. Violence has skyrocketed in today’s society all because of the worsening of violence displayed in the media. As the saying goes, “Monkey see, monkey do.”
Violence in the public eye dates back to ancient times. Beginning around 2000 B.C. the people of Egypt reenacted the death of the god Osiris. They did this to celebrate when Osiris became the god of the dead. This led to many killings that had similarities to Osiris’ death. In ancient Rome, where the gladiator games were prominent as well as other deadly sports, the people were said to be “drunk with the fascination of bloodshed” by St. Augustine in 380 B.C., because of the major turn out and support of such an event (“Violence in Media Entertainment”). In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, beheadings were a popular community event. Even in America during colonial times, villagers would gather at the town center to watch the hanging of criminals.
“Research on the effects of media violence is not well understood by the general public,” says Joanne Cantor, Ph. D. and author of “Media Violence”, an article printed in the Journal of Adolescent Health. This research is necessary though, because one exposure to a grotesque act can scar a child for years. In 1994, media violence was found to be linked to higher levels of antisocial and aggressive behavior that was both mild and very serious (Cantor 31). According to the Social Cognitive Theory, children imitate what they see most, and in today’s society that is the media. Once children become aware of such behavior and see the praise that society give such acts, the children will either conform to the popularity or be severely affected. Effects of exposure to violence include obsessive thoughts, nightmares, and unwillingness to engage in activities that are similar to the situation where the act of violence was committed (Cantor 32).
The easiest medium for violence to travel through is on the screen. In 1998, a survey was conducted of 23 countries all around the world and found that 91% of families had at least one television in their home. From 1993-2001 violence occurred over three times more than in previous years. Television shows in 2001 averaged around forty violent acts every. Most of the acts of violence are committed by the “good guys,” says The Center for Media and Public Affairs (“Violence in Media Entertainment”), which makes it harder for the viewers to hate. In 1994, The World Wrestling Federation began to air in Canada. That same year a survey was conducted on elementary school principals. Almost every principal reported incidents of young students copying wrestling moves they had seen on television and some incidents ended in severe injuries (Cantor 31).
In recent years movies have gradually become more violent. Almost every movie involves at least one scene of violence. The sight of bullets piercing through chests, exploding heads, puddles of blood, mutilation and pain, can scar a mind for a lifetime. Take the movie Wrong Turn for example. In this movie, young adults accidentally trespass on property of very deformed and incestuous men. They are mutilated and brutally killed. It is nearly impossible not to think about that movie when driving down an unfamiliar road. The movie industry has also corrupted the rating scale in order to make more money. The PG-13 rated movies make more money in the box-office than movies rated R; therefore, the movies are now rated on an easier scale in order to bring in more money. Even in the news broadcasts and newspapers focus on the bad. Stories on rapes and gang violence rule the evening news; “If it bleeds, it leads.” The more that is seen, the easier it is to accept (Cantor 32).
Another serious way to be exposed to violence and gore is through the Internet. Advertisers find a way to reach audiences of all ages through ads on popular sites. These are almost impossible to avoid. Internet surfers cannot choose to see the ads for violent movies and video games. This, however, is a minor problem compared to the hundreds, maybe thousands of sites about gore and death on the Internet. A mild form of these websites let fans of television shows blog about how they would kill off a character. A more serious form of Internet violence is on sites like “Rotten.com” and “Gorezone.com” where browsers can see grotesque pictures of vehicle accidents, murder scenes, and bodies rotting. “Rotten.com” was even investigated by the FBI for posting pictures of cannibalistic behaviors. “Gorezone.com” mentioned in the disclaimer that the website was “sexually oriented and of erotic nature.” A survey of Canadian High School students said that 70% of young boys had visited such sites (“Violence in Media Entertainment”).
The music industry reaches audiences of all ages. It is impossible to block radio stations because radio is a source of entertainment that travels on airwaves. Many audiences feel connected to the music because of the beat, but do they actually listen to the lyrics? In 1999, Jordan Knight, a member of the popular band New Kids on the Block, released a self-titled solo album that included a song that was advocating date rape. The entire country of Canada boycotted the album. Eminem’s album “The Eminem Show” sold over 18,000 copies per week and was named the best-selling album of 2002. By these statistics it is easy to see that Eminem reaches a large audience. However, in one of his songs dedicated to his ex-wife the following lyrics are sung:
Don’t you get it bitch? No one can hear you. Now shut the fuck up, and get what’s comin’ to you… You were supposed to love me!!!! (Sounds of Kim choking) Now bleed, bitch, bleed, bleed, bitch, bleed, bleed!
In other songs, like “Kill You”, Eminem raps about how he plans on killing his own mother. Despite his feuds with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Eminem continues to be a huge success in America (“Violence in Media Entertainment”).
Eminem is not the only successful artist to use violence. Other popular artists like Dr. Dre and Limp Bizkit have all produces chart topping hits that involved violence. Even Madonna release a video in 2002 for the song “What it feels like for a Girl” that is so graphic that MTV refused to air it (“Violence in Media Entertainment”). It’s easy to see from all of the success and popularity of these artists that violence has moved to mainstream.
In today’s era violent video games are among the best sellers in the gaming industry. Virtual blood, tears, and sound effects are added into the games to make them seem more realistic. Grand Theft Auto is a top selling video game all around the world and is programmed for players to rape and beat women to death (“Violence in Media Entertainment”). Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, a first person shooter game, is ranked among the top 5 best-selling games in 2008 (“Top 5 Best Selling Games in 2008 (So Far) for PS3, Xbox 360, Wii”). The Call of Duty games follow soldiers into battle with intense story lines and graphic representations of life as a soldier. In the prelude to a level, it shows a group of soldiers on a boat heading toward an ongoing battle. During the commanding officers speech a soldier’s head is blown off. At the beginning of the game soldiers are shown being rescued from a POW camp while soldiers are being brutally murdered on screen. “Research finds evidence that playing violent video games increases short term aggressive cognitions, feelings and behavior intentions,” says Tilo Hartmann and Peter Vorderer, authors of “It’s Okay to Shoot a Character: Moral Disengagement in Violent Video Games.” Video games like this are very harmful to the user. The characters that are being killed act very human thanks to modern technology and graphics. Therefore, human cognition perceives the characters as being other social entities. Research shows that people often times detect social entities when they see motion. Gamers are to act emotionally to the character in the game. Emotion ties the audience to the game situation. Game makers trigger the emotions of the users by programming characters to have intelligence, gaze, natural facial expressions, human-like voices, and biological movement in reaction to the on screen actions. Hartmann and Vorderer also say that Communication Researchers and Media Psychologists suggest that gamers usually approach the media of their choice as “believers.” If appropriate cues are placed in the game and emotions are triggered, then it actually takes effort to remind one’s self that it is fantasy. “If users continuously remind themselves that “this is just a game,” the game would be hardly enjoyable” (Hartmann and Vorderer 96).
Why is it so enjoyable? Many gamers get the feeling of superiority and this thought stimulates excitement. Researchers can only assume that virtual violence is only enjoyable when there are little or no consequences to the gamer. It is also believed that emotions are desensitized by constant exposure to such violence. Feelings of guilt and remorse should hinder enjoyment. Sometimes the games cross the line. In fact, interviews with expert players actually show that the moments that were above and beyond typical video game violence stuck out in their mind, and they felt like it made the game less fun to play (Hartmann and Vorderer 97). However, these video games are still being purchased at an alarming rate, and people are becoming more and more desensitized to violence.
Those who defend media violence state that it is pure fantasy when it comes to on screen violence, and most of the violence is justifiable (“Violence in Media Entertainment”). When it comes to music, they claim that every artist has a right to express himself or herself according to the Constitution. They claim that killing a video game character is not doing harm but merely removing an obstacle, not a person (Hartmann and Vorderer 95). They also claim that they link between the two is difficult to prove because so many other things, like family life and genetics, contribute to the crime factor (Cantor 31).
It is hard to deny such compelling evidence that proves the media is hard to trust. Parents should closely monitor all of the television, music, Internet sites, and video games that their children are subject to. Parents should not only look at rating but also read reviews and check out material. It is crucial that this ring of violence is stopped. If the media continues the downward spiral that they are in, it is possible that real killings will be displayed on television, Internet, and in songs. The more desensitized society is to grotesque violence, the more accepting society will be.
Cantor, Joanne. “Media Violence.” Journal of Adolescent Heath. 275.2 (2000): 30-34 Web. 26
Edgar, Patricia. Children and Screen Violence. 1st ed. St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press,
Landler, Mark. “TV Turns to an Era of Self-Control.” Violence in American Society. Ed. Frank
McGuckin. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1998. 100-105. Print.
Hartmann, Tilo, and Peter Vorderer. “It’s Okay to Shoot a Character: Moral Disengagement in
Violent Video Games.” Journal of Communication. 60 (2010): 94-119. Web. 26 Mar
“Top 5 Best Selling Games in 2008 (So Far) for PS3, Xbox 360, Wii.” Quick Jump Network.
Q.J. Net., 2010. Web. 6 Apr 2010.
United States. Marketing Violent Entertainment to Children: A Sixth Follow-up Review of
Industry Practices in the Motion Picture, Music Recording & Electronic Game
Industries. Washington D.C.: Federal Trade Commission, 2001. Web. 26 Mar 2010.
“Violence in Media Entertainment.” Media Awareness Network. 2010. Web. 26 Mar 2010.
“Violence Quotes.” Think Exsist. 2010. Web. 6 Apr 2010.
“A Monkey’s Paw”
Literary Imagination: ENG 24103
March 28, 2011
In the story “A Monkey’s Paw,” one wish ruins the life of a small rural family. This story is a testament of how frivolous desires can ruin lives. It is also proof that we should learn from the mistakes made by others and heed the warnings that they make.
In this story the White Family is entertaining a guest, Sergeant Morris, on a rainy night. The guest exchanges stories from his travels and comes across the story of a paw that was given to him by an Indian holy man. The paw was said to grant three wishes to three different men. The Sergeant seems to be distraught after telling the family about this charm and tries to destroy it. Mr. White saves the charm and convinces the Sergeant to let him keep it. The Sergeant warns White that the last wish the previous owner wished for was death.
The family mocks the Sergeant’s story after he leaves. They do not believe in the magic of the paw. However, they decide, after coaxing from Herbert (the son), to wish for two hundred pounds to pay off the house. After the wish is made Mr. White swears that the paw moved in his hand. Herbert leaves to work at the nearby factory.
The next morning the couple is eating breakfast waiting for Herbert to come home from work. A mysterious man is lurking outside of the house. He brings news that Herbert has been killed in the machinery at work. The company brings a settlement of two hundred pounds. The family immediately regrets the wish.
After the funeral the hysterical Mrs. White begs her husband to wish her son back to life. The reluctant Mr. White makes the wish.
That same night Mrs. White does not sleep. She keeps an eye out of the window in hopes that her son will come walking back to her. After a long while of waiting she sees a figure walking down the lane. She runs to open the door to greet her son. Mr. White is terrified but Mrs. White is too hysterical to care what her son has become. Heavy knocking shakes the house. Mr. White cannot stop his wife. He frantically looks for the paw and makes his third wish. His wife screams and the knocking ceases.
The speaker of this story is a third-person narrator or the author. This somewhat limits knowledge of the characters’ feelings but is also beneficial. By having a third person narrator it is easier to see the foreshadowing of the story. If a character narrated the story then a lot of the foreshadowing would not be noticed because the character did not notice.
Other foreshadowing in the first section has to do with the weather. It was a very rainy day and appears eerie. It was obvious that there was going to be a traumatic happening later in the story. Also, the narrator includes a statement made by Mr. White and a reply by his son, Herbert:
“I do not know what to wish for, and that’s a fact,” he said slowly. “It seems to me I’ve got all I want.”
“If you only cleared the house, you’d be quite happy, wouldn’t you?”
This is ironic foreshadowing because Herbert is the one that falls victim of the curse and the wish that comes true actually makes his father unhappier.
This work is organized into three sections. The first section sets up the story of the monkey’s paw. This is where the paw is introduced and where foreshadowing of another travesty to take place. The foreshadowing is when the Sergeant says, “The first man had his three wishes. Yes”… “I don’t know what the first two were, but the third was for death.”
The Sergeant, who is supposedly a brave war hero, acts frightened and edgy. This is significant because it shows that the power of the paw is disturbing and truly evil enough to bother even the most courageous of men.
The paw also gets the better of the White Family. The family’s skepticism turns to mockery. The family’s playful banter proves to be false as the paw grants wishes that have dangerous results.
The end of the story is ironic because the family thought the wishes from the paw would bring them happiness. However, it only brings them extreme grief. This story has taught the reader to be happy with what he or she has, to not rely on magic to make one’s life better and to heed the warnings of those who have experienced the same situation.
Jacobs, W.W. “The Monkey’s Paw.” The Lady of the Barge. Freeport, New York: Books For
Libraries Press, 1969. 27-53. Print.
“Performance History: Macbeth Act III: Scene 4”
Shakespeare from Script to Stage to Screen: ENG 36403
April 26, 2012
Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s most performed plays of all time. It is a play that is typically read in senior high school. Because of both of these factors Macbeth has been interpreted many different ways. It has been placed in a modern day fast food industry, a Renaissance castle, an opera and a modern day Soviet-like regime. By leaving out stage directions and director’s notes, lines in Shakespeare’s plays, along with the actions taken by his characters, are easily interpreted numerous ways. In Act III, scene 4 of Macbeth, directors can take many different options with the clues that Shakespeare has written into his dialogue.
This particular scene has many different adaptations and interpretations. This is the scene following the death of Macbeth’s friend Banquo. Macbeth throws a banquet. While this banquet is taking place Macbeth screams at the sight of Banquo’s ghost. Banquo’s ghost has no lines in this scene and there are no original stage directions proving his presence.
In the 1978 production of Macbeth, starring Ian McKellen and Dame Judi Dench, the director Phillip Casson chooses to set the Scottish play on mostly empty stage. The backdrop is black and the characters are dressed in all black attire. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth only show small amounts of gold displaying their royalty. Casson displays this scene in a classic manner, meaning that this is often how the scene is portrayed.
In scene three, the director zooms in on Banquo’s bloody face, foreshadowing the appearance of his ghost to Macbeth. At the Banquet the thanes enjoy a ceremonial drinking game. During the ceremony Macbeth keeps bringing the drink over to the murderer to find out if Banquo is truly dead. Lady Macbeth notices his odd behavior and reminds him of the game.
Macbeth seems cheerful after he has heard the news of Banquo’s death. In this version the director chooses not to show Banquo’s ghost to the audience. When Macbeth says the table is full the thanes stare at an empty seat. Macbeth screams at the invisible specter and leaves all of the thanes speechless and uncomfortable. Lady Macbeth is extremely forceful when trying to convince the thanes that this is normal behavior for Macbeth. In the original script when Macbeth says “Ay, and since too, murders have been performed/ Too terrible for the ear” (Shakespeare, lines 77-78) Lady Macbeth discovers that Macbeth has had Banquo murdered. She shows agony when she discovers this detail.
Macbeth then has a complete personality change and is again cheerful because the ghost has apparently left. After Macbeth takes another drink of alcohol the ghost appears to him again. Macbeth, during his next episode, pulls a dagger to defend himself against the ghost. This shows the audience that Macbeth is seeing the ghost again and it is something that is threatening him.
The line “I pray you, speak not!” (Shakespeare, line 118) is spoken by Lady Macbeth to Macbeth. She also covers his mouth and looks him directly in the eye. Lady Macbeth also screams many of her lines to show her power and agitation. By doing this, the director shows his interpretation of Lady Macbeth as a powerful woman who is in control and stands equally to Macbeth.
The Director wants the audience to see the scene just as the thanes and Lady Macbeth see it. This choice makes Macbeth appear insane. It also makes McKellen’s performance much more important. He must convince the audience that he is terrified and seeing a terrifying ghost in front of him. McKellen pulls this off by adding effects that cause him to seem crazy like slobbering and widened eyes. The director uses close-ups on his eyes and mouth to show drool and fear, quite literally, oozing from him (Casson).
In the Actor’s Theatre version in 2008, the director, John Kuhn, uses a lot of color and brass and wooden beams in his set design to suggest a classic Renaissance setting. This banquet is a much smaller setting than previously shown. The director is using a smaller stage therefore he only has room for a table that seats six. This makes the banquet a much more private affair and is less of an embarrassment and threat to the power of the Macbeths. There is no drinking ceremony shown in this version. Macbeth’s conversation with the murderer is cut from this segment and placed earlier in the scene. Unfortunately this segment of the scene was not available.
The director chooses to show Banquo’s ghost to the audience. The ghost is bloody and his face is disfigured. He walks like a zombie with his head tilted to one side and takes slow footsteps. When Macbeth sees the ghost, the ghost is sitting at the table, scowling at Macbeth and shaking his head. At one point in the scene the ghost points at Macbeth and maliciously smiles. By doing this, the director shows that Banquo is haunting Macbeth to seek revenge.
When the ghost appears a second time Macbeth holds a bench as self-defense. Lady Macbeth is much less forceful than in other versions. Instead she begs the Thanes to understand his behavior and begs Macbeth to calm down. He grabs her when he is speaking to her. This shows that she is still Macbeth’s inferior and he is in control. Lady Macbeth also seems to come to no realization about Banquo’s death during this scene. She also uses the line “I pray thee, speak not!” (Shakespeare, line 118) to tell the thanes to ask no more questions. Other than questioning Macbeth the thanes show little reaction to Macbeth’s terror. The thanes only shoot glances toward one another in question (Kuhn).
The 1983 made for TV movie, starring Nicol Williamson, also shows very little color but stays true to a Renaissance setting. The director, Jack Gold, uses very little light on set. The shadows show mystery and give the setting an eerie feel. He also uses a lot of metal and stone in his design. The actors are dressed in all black and brown with very little gold to show their royalty. The murderer’s conversation is excluded from the available segment of the scene.
Instead of a drinking game the thanes only drink a single toast. Again this is a small banquet that only has five guests. This again makes Macbeth’s episode seem more private. The director chooses to show no ghost in this scene making Macbeth seem insane. Macbeth reacts with horror toward the empty chair. He yells his lines toward the seat. The director zooms in on Macbeth’s face and the empty chair when the ghost is present and zooms out when the ghost leaves. This helps clue the audience in on what Macbeth is seeing.
This Lady Macbeth is very polite to her guests but when they are not looking she is harsh toward Macbeth. After she discovers that Macbeth has murdered Banquo (lines 77-78) she acts as though she too sees the ghost sitting in the chair. This representation of Lady Macbeth acts as if she respects that she is not Macbeth’s equal in front of the other thanes but when the two are alone she and Macbeth are on the equal terms. This is shown in the aside that she and Macbeth share. She is firm with him and looks him directly in the eye when she is scolding him. The thanes questionably look at one another but are otherwise respectful of Macbeth’s authority and illness (Gold).
Roman Polanski directed a very famous version of Macbeth in 1971. This version, starring Jon Finch and Francesca Annis, significantly cuts the script. The Banquet scene opens with men washing their faces for dinner. The setting is medieval Renaissance in a dark castle. There is a lot of stone and hay incorporated into the setting. Macbeth’s conversation with the murderer is moved from this scene and placed earlier in the film. This banquet is a large banquet therefore many more people are there to see Macbeth’s episode of insanity.
Polanski chooses to show the ghost in this scene. When Macbeth goes to sit among the thanes he sees no empty chairs but the back of a man. This develops mystery and suspense. When the ghost is first shown he appears white. When the ghost is shown a second time blood is added to his face and his facial features are barely recognizable. This gives the audience more of a shock when they see the ghost. The ghost then stands and begins to walk toward Macbeth with an outreached hand. Polanski also shows a crow on Banquo’s shoulder. This crow is a symbol death. Macbeth’s speech is also cut and the ghost only appears once.
Polanski’s Lady Macbeth is very sentimental to Macbeth’s feelings. She rushes to his aid when he collapses in reaction to the ghost. Polanski interprets Lady Macbeth as a supportive and sexual character. This is shown throughout the film. She is extremely upset after Macbeth caused a scene and pleads with the thanes to not ask him any more questions and to leave. Macbeth seems befuddled and weakened by the sight of the ghost. The thanes leap up and show fear that Macbeth is acting this way (Polanski).
Directors have not always used a medieval Renaissance setting for this play. In the 2010 film directed by Rupert Goold and starring Patrick Stewart is set in a 1930s Soviet-like county. The director does this to compare dictatorship to the story of Macbeth. The castle resembles a mental hospital. It is painted in cold colors and is mostly concrete and iron. The scene previous to this scene shows Banquo’s dead body get up and walk toward the camera as if it were walking toward Macbeth’s castle. The director shows the preparation for the banquet along with the murders being committed in a montage. He shows fearful people running from Macbeth’s officers and bowls of blood-like soup that is going to be served. The director uses this montage to increase the fear in the audience.
When the banquet begins Macbeth is not cheerful. He gets most of his entertainment from frightening his fellow leaders with his power. Most of the other leaders are terrified by his presence. When the murderer goes to speak to Macbeth he is very uneasy and nervous about speaking with him. The party guests then begin to eat and Banquo’s ghost confronts Macbeth, not by taking a seat, but by walking across the table toward Macbeth. The director chooses to show the ghost as a terrifying creature covered in blood and scowling at Macbeth. This makes Banquo’s ghost seem strong and angry as if it were there to take revenge on Macbeth.
After the ghost disappears the guests play a dancing game that resembles musical chairs instead of the ceremonial drinking game. When Macbeth turns he sees Banquo’s ghost again and screams. Instead of running in terror, he confronts the ghost and tries to stand toe-to-toe with him. The ghost sees through Macbeth’s bluff and laughs at his misery. This detail shows that despite the strong and untouchable front that Macbeth puts on he is still vulnerable and scared.
The thanes react differently in this version than in other versions. They are portrayed as scared individuals that are forced to do Macbeth’s bidding for fear of their lives. During Macbeth’s reaction to the ghost one thane actually starts to hysterically laugh. The others look down in fear as if they are afraid to offend Macbeth.
When Macbeth reacts, Lady Macbeth panics and yells at Macbeth. When he sees the ghost he hides behind her and tries to get her to look at the ghost. She refuses to look at what he is pointing at. By doing this, the director shows that Lady Macbeth is stubborn and powerful just like Macbeth. Instead of being upset or supportive of his reaction she is angered by his weakness. This shows that Lady Macbeth is power hungry and does not want Macbeth’s weaknesses to upset their power (Goold).
Even though the scenes have the same lines and come from the same source many different details make each version unique. In this one scene alone, settings vary in many different centuries and decorations. The appearance or lack of appearance of Banquo’s ghost changes the effect of the scene and feeling given to the audience. The numbers of guests at the banquet changes along with how the actors interpret the lines making a character seem weak, strong, scared, or angry. The many different interpretations of Shakespeare’s plays will make his plays ever- changing and never become a dull repeating story.
Macbeth Act 3 Scene 4/ Banquo's Ghost. Dir. John Kuhn. Actors Theatre, 2008.
Macbeth. Dir. Phillip Casson. Perf. Ian McKellen and Dame Judi Dench. The Royal
Shakespeare Company, 1978. DVD.
Macbeth. Dir. Roman Polanski. Perf. Jon Finch and Francesca Annis. Columbia
Pictures, 1971. DVD.
Macbeth. Dir. Rupert Goold. Perf. Patrick Stewart and Kate Fleetwood. PBS, 2010.
“Shakespeare's "Macbeth" (Nicol Williamson): Banquet Scene.” Dir. Jack Gold.
YouTube. 2007. Web. 16 Apr. 2012
Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Lincolnwood, Ill., USA: NTC Pub. Group., 1994. Print.
Shakespeare from Script to Screen: ENG 36403
May 2, 2012
5. Three of the plays we read since the midterm include supernatural elements (ghosts, magic powers, witches, spirits). Choose examples from two plays and discuss them in terms of how they fit into the structure of the play, to what extent they influence actions of human beings, or any other aspect of the supernatural that you wish to examine. Be sure to include specific examples in your discussion.
2. The relationship between parents and children is an issue in some of the plays we read this semester. Discuss problematic parent-child relationships and how they are explored in at least two of the plays. Does it matter whether the child in question is male or female? Who seems to be more “in control” in these relationships? Use specific examples in your answer.
“The Medea and A Doll’s House”
Comparative World Literature: ENG 24803
November 30, 2012
Although there are more than 2000 years in between the publishing of The Medea and A Doll’s House. The two plays share a lot in common as well as several differences. The stories of Medea and Nora are comparable. However, the two women react very differently to the situations put in front of them. Both Medea and Nora prove to be powerful and independent women who learn that the happiness of their husband is not worth sacrificing their happiness.
Medea and Nora are women who sacrifice a lot for their husbands. Medea killed her brother and betrayed her family because of Jason’s quest for the Golden Fleece. Her love for Jason overwhelmed her love for her family and home. She left all that was familiar to her and moved to a foreign land to marry and have a family with Jason.
Nora also sacrificed for her marriage. She spent her entire marriage as a trophy wife for Torvald. When he was ill she illegally forged her father’s signature so that they could have money to go to Italy where he could get well. Even though this was not a malicious crime and hardly comparable to cutting up one’s brother, it was still a crime against the honor of her family. If she were discovered the Helmer family would be humiliated and she would go to prison for forgery.
Both of these women pointed out the flaws of their husbands in a long speech. Medea uses her speech to plead for Jason to change his mind about leaving her. She says:
And then, showing more willingness to help than wisdom.
I killed him, Pelias, with a most dreadful death
At his own daughters’ hands, and took away your fear.
This is how I behaved to you, you wretched man,
And you forsook me, took another bride to bed (Euripides 473-477).
She shows more anger by insulting Jason and calling him “wretched.” Her speech is also much longer than Nora’s. Nora’s speech is much calmer. She does not call Torvald names. She tells him, “And you have always been so kind to me” (Isben 2401). Rather, she explains why she is leaving based on her own actions. She agrees with Torvald’s opinion that she is unfit to raise their children:
No- you were perfectly right. That problem is beyond me. There is another to be solved first- I must try to educate myself. You are not the man to help me in that I must set about it alone. And that is why I am leaving you (Isben 2401).
Both women look for help in other men. Medea tells her troubles to the King of Athens when they run into each other. He offers her refuge in Athens so that she does not have to stay in Corinth and be labeled with a bad reputation. She accepts her old friend’s hospitality. This aids her in her plans to kill the King of Corinth and his daughter, the Princess, along with her two children.
Now I am confident they will pay the penalty.
For this man, Aegeus, has been like a harbor to me
In all my plans just where I was most distressed
To him I can fasten the cable of my safety (Euripides 751-754).
Nora seeks help from an old friend of Torvald’s. Rank is a doctor who has the power to help Nora keep her crime a secret from her husband. She decides she is going to ask him for his help. However, Nora’s mind is changed when he reveals to her that he has been in love with her for some time. Her loyalty to her husband is so strong that she cannot imagine asking another man who is in love with her to help her lie to her husband.
You can do nothing for me now. –Besides, I really want no help. You shall see it was only my fancy. Yes, it must be so. Of course! You are a nice person,
Doctor Rank! Aren’t you ashamed of yourself, now that the lamp is on the table?
She decides to find another way to keep her crime a secret to keep the honor of a loyal wife.
Both Medea and Nora plan to use these men to further their plan. Medea gladly accepts the help of Aegeus because she will surely die if she has no refuge and that is the worst possible outcome in her mind. In Nora’s mind, however, the worst thing she can do is, not to be revealed, but to be disloyal to her husband by seeking help from a man who has feelings for her.
The husbands prove to be ungrateful for what the women have done for them. Jason leaves Medea for the Princess of Corinth and Torvald scolds Nora when he discovers her crime. They claim to make their decisions based on their honor and family. Jason tells Medea, “But- this was the main reason- that we might live well, / And not be short of anything” (Euripides 547-548). Jason’s excuse was not good enough for Medea. She is betrayed and therefore made to be a scorned woman.
Torvald also believes that the honor of his family is at stake. This crime, if discovered, will label him as someone that cannot be trusted. This is not a becoming attribute to have since he is a banker. He tells Nora, “You have destroyed my whole happiness. You have ruined my future” (Isben 2398). He later involved their children when he said, “But the children cannot be left in your care. I dare not trust them to you” (Isben 2399). This line sparks a long coming change in Nora. She references it later in the play when she tells Torvald that she is leaving him.
Medea reacts poorly to Jason’s actions and begins to seek revenge on him. She looks first to violence when she suggests that she should commit suicide. She then begins to plot the murders of those who have come in between her and Jason. She is solely concerned with revenge. “There are still trials to come for the new-wedded pair, / And for their relations pain that will mean something” (Euripedes 362-363).
Nora, on the other hand, does not look to hurt Torvald (although his reaction can be portrayed as hurt). She does not use harsh words or criticism toward Torvald. She gives him credit for treating her well. She says that he was “perfectly right” (Isben 2401) and that he has “always been so kind” (Isben 2401) to her. Rather she looks to find her own happiness. She decides she is going to leave him and start her life over as an independent woman and “must try to gain experience” (Isben 2402).
Medea and Nora both must think of their children when they consider their new life changes. Medea’s murdering spree will result in a terrible life for her children. She knows that they will be punished if they are living in Corinth. She says:
To kill my children, and start away from this land,
And not, by wasting time, to suffer my children
To be slain by another hand less kindly to them.
Force every way will have it they must die (Euripides 1211- 1215)
Although this is true, this is also how Medea justifies using her children’s deaths to hurt Jason. Medea’s justification hides the most terrible reason Medea has for killing her children- the pain it would cause Jason to have no heirs. This is the main reason for killing her children.
Nora’s children are not used in her plan to leave Torvald. She leaves them in his care because she agrees with Torvald that she is unfit to raise them. She also feels that she is treating them as dolls just as Torvald and her father have treated her. “And the children, in their turn, have been my dolls. I thought it fun when you played with me just as the children did when I played with them” (Isben 2401). Torvald criticizes her plans to leave her children. She mildly replies “I know they’re in better hands than mine. The way I am now, I’m no use for them” (Isben 2404). This parting seems temporary by the use of the word “now”, whereas Medea’s parting from her children is definitely permanent. Both women use the excuse that the children will be better off in the state that the mothers have chosen for them than tagging along with their mothers.
The differences in the stories are a product of their time. Medea is living in a time where violence was used to solve problems and punish those who were harmful to society. Nora was a very mild woman who listened carefully to the men that ran her family. This way of thinking was also of the time. Nora escapes the time by leaving her family and starting over as a woman free of a man’s influence. Medea, however, falls victim of her culture by using violence to solve her problem.
These women were willing to break the law (through fraud and murder) to keep the men they loved safe and happy. Without the ungrateful behaviors of the men in the story the women would never have the opportunity to become scornful or independent. Although the women are put in similar situations, the reactions of the two are very different because the blame is placed on different people. Nora blames herself and therefore chooses to leave; Medea blames Jason and therefore seeks revenge on him to better satisfy herself. Regardless of the reactions of Medea and Nora, they are strong women because of their courage to leave and better their lives.
Euripedes. The Medea. The Longman Anthology of World Literature. Ed. David Damrosch.
Compact ed. New York: Pearson Longman, 2007. 578-608. Print.
Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll's House. The Longman Anthology of World Literature. Ed. David Damrosch. Compact ed. New York: Pearson Longman, 2007. 2357-404. Print.
“Main Themes in ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’”
British Literature since the Romantic Era: ENG 26203
April 25, 2012
Samuel Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” was written with three main themes in mind. The poem portrays the story of an old man and his adventures at sea that have led him into misery. While at sea the Mariner kills the Albatross, which upsets the balance of the sea and causes the old Mariner much pain. The old man says, “And till my ghastly tale is told, / This heart within me burns” (Coleridge 584-85). The mariner tells his tragedy so that others may learn from his mistakes and his guilt will not be so great. The mariner’s tragic tale surrounds mistakes involving hospitality, violence and superstition.
Several times in this poem Coleridge talks about manners and hospitality. It is no mistake that Coleridge’s Mariner is speaking to a wedding guest. Coleridge wanted to show the contrast between weddings, which are a time of formality and manners, and the sea, which is a rugged cutthroat lifestyle. One instance of the Mariner’s inhospitality is when the Mariner shows up unwanted at the wedding and distracts (or entraps) one of its guests (Melville 16). This wedding guest tries to escape the Mariner’s rambling but is distracted by the glow in the Mariner’s eyes. He is then “forced” to sit and listen to his tale. Another instance is when the Mariner shoots the Albatross. The crewmembers welcomed the bird as a good omen. They were hospitable to the bird and enjoyed its company. They showed a lot of kindness to the creature by feeding it and thanking God for it. The Mariner states, “The Albatross did follow, / And every day, for food or play, / Came to the mariner’ hollo!” (Coleridge 72-74). The Mariner then goes against the hospitality of the sailors and kills the Albatross with his crossbow. The crew is appalled by his actions and punishes him by making him wear the bird around his neck as a reminder of his wretched behavior.
The Mariner’s previous actions bring forth the theme of violence in this poem. Violence first occurs when the Mariner “shot the Albatross” (Coleridge 82). This is noted because the Romantics believed that violence was an action that went against the normal human nature (Foakes 41). Later it is described that the Mariner had slain the bird. This word suggests a much more violent killing of the Albatross. The sea also shows a violent revenge for the death of the bird. The sea sends a woman aboard a ship and takes the lives of the crewmembers. The sea later turns violent toward the ship. The Mariner says, “It reached the ship, it split the bay; / The ship went down like lead” (Coleridge 548-49). Violence is also symbolized in the color red. The sun is described as being red along with the fiery waters and the blood that the Mariner used to wet his mouth to speak to the crew (Foakes 54). The violence in this poem makes the actions of the Mariner seem more extreme and as if they deserve negative consequences.
The Mariner’s previous actions of violence and inhospitality have caused the sea to take action to punish the Mariner. The Mariner notes several occasions that are fueled by superstitions of the sea that he otherwise would have never experienced (Bate 57). At the first appearance of the Albatross, the crew of the ship was filled with joy in seeing the bird and thought, “As if it had been a Christian soul” (Coleridge 65). Because of the bird’s company the winds began to blow the ship back to its original course. The Mariner kills the bird because he believes that the bird is actually an omen that will surely bring bad luck (Watson 24). After the bird’s death the wind quits blowing and the sea begins to take its revenge for the wrongful death of the bird. The Mariner tells his audience, “Day after day, day after day, / We stuck, nor breath nor motion; (Coleridge 115-16). The crew punishes the Mariner for his actions because they believe that the bird was a good omen (Stokes 6). Despite his punishment the sea still takes it revenge that brings about more sea superstition. Even though they are more often used as a good omen of fortune, the “death-fires” (Coleridge 128) referred to show the Mariner’s “dread of his own suffering and the fate of his crewmates” (Dilworth 212). The death-fires are accompanied by slimy creatures, the lady on the skeleton ship, and the zombie crew that all seek revenge on the Mariner for killing the bird.
Coleridge’s poem shows the importance of hospitality, the repercussions of violence, and the power of superstitions. Even though the death of the Albatross seemed like a good idea to the Mariner, he was punished because he upset the natural balance of the sea and was ungrateful to the bird for its luck. Because the Mariner has told his tale to the wedding guest he feels that he has taught the man a lesson about loving all of God’s creatures no matter how unimportant they may seem and therefore eases his guilty heart. The Mariner’s tale indeed taught the guest a lesson as proved by the final stanza: “He went like one that hath been stunned, / And is of sense forlorn: / A sadder and a wiser man, / He rose the morrow morn” (Coleridge 621-25).
Bate, Walter Jackson. Coleridge. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1968. Print.
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature 8th Edition Volume 2. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: Norton, 2006. 430-46. Print.
Dilworth, Thomas. “Parallel Light Shows in Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” Explicator 65.4 (2007): 212-15. Web. 17 April 2012.
Foakes, R. A., “Coleridge, Violence and ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.’” Romanticism 7.1
(2001): 41-57. Web. 17 April 2012.
Melville, Peter. “Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” Explicator 63.1 (2004): 15-18.
Web 17 April 2012.
Stokes, Christopher. “‘My Soul in Agony’: Irrationality and Christianity in The Rime of the
Ancient Mariner.” Studies in Romanticism 65.4 (2007): 3-28. Web. 17 April 2012.
Watson, Harold Francis. The Sailor in English Fiction and Drama. New York: AMS Press, inc.,
“Hearing Loss in the Classroom”
Field Experience: Cultural Diversity: EDU 11601
November 2, 2012
Hearing loss is an age-old handicap that can affect people of all ages. It is estimated by the Hearing Loss Association of America that 30 school children per every 1,000 have a hearing loss. Hearing loss can range from mild to severe. Peggy B. Nelson, from the University of Maryland, School of Medicine outlines the issues that are associated with hearing loss. She says that hearing loss can lead to reduced speech perception, speech/language delay, reduced academic achievement, lowered self-esteem, and isolation (Nelson). Because of these reasons children with hearing loss are subject to bullying. Many advances in technology have been made toward making deaf children and children with hearing loss live a normal life.
On July 23-27, 2012 Goshen Run Church of God held a Vacation Bible School that was open to the public. Over eighty children from age three to twelve attended this Vacation Bible School. Some activities at the day camp were crafts, story time, music time, snacks and games. The children were separated by age into four groups: Pre-K (ages 3-4), K-2 (ages 5-7), 3-4 (ages 8-9), and 5-6 (ages 10-12). The children were a diverse group. Children differed in socioeconomic status. Both white and black children attended the Bible school. Also, students that suffered from Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder and hearing loss both attended our Bible School.
As the music director of our Vacation Bible School, teaching a child with hearing loss was a challenge for me. I wanted the child to be able to enjoy the musical selections that I had picked for our Bible School. The child did have hearing aids but it was hard for her to sing the words. I wanted to make the music more interactive so that she may be more involved. Instead of telling the students what motions to do I relied on music videos that were included with the Bible School material. I also used the videos because they showed the lyrics of the songs at the bottom of the screen. By doing these things during every class I disguised the needs of the child. She was unaware that we were making any changes for her. The other children were also.
Even though the teachers did not point out her difference, other children were curious. She wore bulky hearing aids and talked differently than the other children. Many of the children were accustomed to her differences because they attended her school. Other children (that were younger than her) asked her questions such as, “Why do you talk funny?” or “What’s that?” in reference to her hearing aids. She answered their questions without hesitation. She was not offended by the questions but I still hoped that there were better ways to help with her hearing loss.
This child’s condition sparked my curiosity. I decided to research the technology that helps her cope with her hearing loss. I discovered, through information provided via the Hearing Loss Association of America, that there are many different technological ways to help a child in her position. Hearing aids are the most common device used for hearing loss. Hearing aids can differ from a device located inside the ear canal to a bulkier version that hooks behind the ear and delivers sound through a tube to a speaker inside of the ear. Hearing aids, unlike glasses, may never fully correct hearing loss. Most of the time the hearing aids take a lot of time to adjust to and many doctors’ visits to tweak the sound (Hearing Aids).
A more serious procedure is cochlear implants. This is usually recommended for those who suffer from severe to profound hearing loss. This procedure consists of surgically placing a piece under the skin behind the ear. The doctor then threads a wire into the inside of the ear. The device turns the sound waves into electrical waves via a magnet. Instead of magnifying sound, the electrical impulses tweak the auditory nerve to create sound (Cochlear Implants).
The newest technology concerning hearing aids and cochlear implants is a Telecoil. A Telecoil is a wireless antenna that can pick up sound from a nearby sound system. With a Telecoil, people with hearing loss can hear sound coming from a sound system without it traveling through the air first. This makes the sound crisper and more detailed when heard. Most hearing devices are now equipped with a Telecoil (Hearing Loop Technology). This form of technology would have been useful during our concert at the end of Bible school.
Besides the new technology being offered to the hearing impaired, I have discovered more ways to help a child with hearing loss cope. In some schools that have students with hearing loss teacher’s aides are provided to help translate to the student. I have learned to speak slowly. It is another helpful hint for teachers that have students who are hearing impaired so that they can read the teachers lips. Most people who suffer from hearing impairments read lips to help understand people. American Sign Language courses are commonly offered in community colleges both online and at night. This makes it easier for an educator to become familiar with the American Sign Language. The best thing for a student who suffers from hearing loss is cooperation. I will use all of the previously mentioned information I have learned from my experience to modify my teaching to help those with hearing loss. If a teacher is willing to help a student and adhere to his or her needs the communication barrier can be broken and the hearing impaired can begin to learn like a normal student.
"Basic Facts About Hearing Loss." Hearing Loss.org. Hearing Loss Association of America, 2012. Web. 12 Oct. 2012.
"Cochlear Implants." Hearing Loss Association of America. Hearing Loss Association of
America, n.d. Web. 22 Oct. 2012. .
"Hearing Aids." Hearing Loss Association of America. Hearing Loss Association of America, n.d. Web. 22 Oct. 2012. .
"Hearing Loop Technology." Hearing Loss Association of America. Hearing Loss Association of America, n.d. Web. 22 Oct. 2012. .
Nelson, Peggy B. "Impact of Hearing Loss on Children in Typical School Environments." Reading. 133rd ASA Meeting. State College, PA. 17 June 1997. Acoustical Society of America 133rd Meeting Lay Language Papers. Acoustical Society of America. Web. 12 Oct. 2012. rd/2paaa2.html>.
“Teaching the Importance of Character in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men”
American Literature Since the Civil War: ENG 25203
May 1, 2013
Although he is commonly known as a Realist, John Steinbeck is regarded as one of the most important authors in the American Modernist movement; therefore High schools across America find it extremely valuable to include one of Steinbeck’s works in their yearly curriculum. Of Mice and Men is one of the most read novels in high schools. In Steinbeck’s life he witnessed many different people show great acts of character. These acts greatly influenced him in his writing, especially the character of George. George is classified as a round character. This means that he makes a change or develops over the course of the story. “Round Characters are believable and memorable. They allow the reader to have a vicarious experience and share an imaginative or sympathetic participation with that character” (Borgia 1). When teaching a Steinbeck novel, focusing on the analysis of characters will enhance the story by adding more emotion and an understanding of the character’s actions.
It is important for students to realize the background story to any piece of American Literature. Knowing the background gives the story context and helps the students better understand the author’s intentions. Students should know that many authors in the Modernist movement used real-life situations and experiences to influence their works of fiction. Steinbeck did not merely sit down and write about an amazing friendship between migrant workers; he witnessed this friendship. According to Celia Johnson, before Steinbeck became a full-time writer he was a migrant worker himself. He witnessed a friendship between two farmhands so deep that it drove one to murder because of the other’s firing. Students should also be aware of the Great Depression and its effects on people. During the Great Depression having a job meant surviving. The farm hand knew how important employment was at this time. The love and care that he felt for his companion forced him to act in a fit of rage (Johnson).
When the students begin to analyze George’s actions toward the end of the novel it would be beneficial for them to know how important a job was. Knowing about the Great Depression and the stress and panic it caused the American people will help them better understand that George could no longer let Lennie’s behavior and disability hold him back. Merely reading facts from a textbook cannot show the emotion that was felt because of the Great Depression. Because this unit is built around character, emotion is very important.
The class will better understand the emotion of the Great Depression by reading Philip Levine’s poem, “This Is Working.” This poem is written from the perspective of a man standing in the unemployment line. While standing in line, he thinks of his brother and how hard his brother works to be able to sing and indulge his aesthetic pleasures. He realizes that this economic trial is making people forget about their humanity. He realizes that he cannot find time to tell his brother that he loves him because they are too busy working. This poem is an excellent picture of the internal monologue of a man living in America during the Great Depression. By reading and discussing this poem, students will be able better relate to the emotions and character and priorities of a man living during the Depression.
Another poem that will benefit the student’s understanding of the hard realities of the Great Depression is Robert Frost’s “Death of a Hired Man.” This poem shows the true grit and hard work that men acquired during the time. Frost’s workingman showed his great character through his willingness to work. This is shown through the dialogue of Warren and Mary. The fact that he is willing to work until he dies shows the importance of a job that was relevant during the Great Depression. Silas’s hard-working mentality grew on Warren and Mary until he became like family. A discussion of this poem will help the students realize that people put their health and happiness behind their survival. This humbling poem will help the students get into the mind set of the realism in Steinbeck’s novel.
Another activity that will benefit the students after they have read the novel is constructing a Body Biography. A Body Biography is a portrait of a character from the novel. During a body biography students use a large piece of butcher paper to trace a student’s body. Students will place pictures in strategic places in the body to show where the character draws his or her influences. A good example would be placing Lennie in the section of George’s body where his heart would be located. The students would then use textual evidence to support their decision to place Lennie in George’s heart. In Teaching English by Design, Peter Smagorinsky suggests using this project when analyzing complex characters. He uses the example of Hamlet, but due to George’s internal conflict about Lennie’s dependence and his own survival the same activity would be beneficial to the students. Once the character has been effectively decorated the students must present their Body Biography to the class. Students will be asked to defend their decision to place certain items in certain places on the character. This allows the class to see multiple perspectives on the character and according to Smagorinsky, “The availability of multiple perspectives on each character provides a richer portrayal than does a single depiction from the character’s point of view” (p. 36). This creative activity will help the students to express themselves and their thoughts on the Body Biographies. By completing the Body Biographies a student will get a better understanding of the driving force behind George’s metamorphosis in Steinbeck’s novel.
After the students have presented their projects to the class Smagorinsky suggests students led discussions. Fishbowl is a method used to focus on a small group of students at a time. A few students in the center of the room lead the discussion and the remaining students circling around the discussion. At any time a student can leave the inner circle or can be “tapped out” by a student on the outside if they are viewed as being unengaged. During this discussion the instructor can give discussion topics. For Of Mice and Men, a possible topic would be, “Do you believe that George was just or unjust in his killing of Lennie?” or “Do you believe that George would have been better off with or without Lennie?” Discussing these controversial topics will help students see different meanings behind what Steinbeck has presented. This activity will also let the students take charge of their learning which will give them more motivation and will to continue on with the unit.
Students should also know that Steinbeck drew a lot of influence from Robert Burns’ “To A Mouse.” In fact, Steinbeck even derived the title of his novel from line 38 of Burns’ poem, “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an Men.” After reading the novel, students will read this poem to understand where Steinbeck drew his influences. In his poem, the narrator accidently turns over a mouse’s nest while working in his barn. At the beginning he is pleased that he no longer needs to care or worry about the pest stealing his grain, but as he continues to reflect on this deed he begins to feel remorse for the animal because it is a helpless animal that does not know any better. The narrator’s conflicting feelings, internal monologue, and growth through his reflection left an impression on Steinbeck. When creating his characters, Steinbeck mirrored the powerful friendship between George and Lennie; Lennie, in this case, being the mouse and George being the narrator. A comparison chart would be helpful to the students to fill out so that they may see the parallels between the two couples. This activity shows how Steinbeck used a classic poem to help him create a social commentary.
Even though George and Lennie are the main characters of the story, it is also important to think about the influences that the supporting characters may have had on the pair. An important character to analyze is Curley’s wife. She is important because her death is the reason that people became intolerant of Lennie’s actions and disability. In his novel, Steinbeck casts Curley’s wife as the “damsel in distress.” Students are often put off by Curley’s wife because of her promiscuity and the trouble she causes George and Lennie. Even though her flirtatious nature can be attributed to Lennie’s death, much of the depth of Steinbeck’s story comes from the interaction between Curley’s wife and Lennie because it causes a controversial action that needs to be judged by the audience. It is important for the students to note the parallels between Curley’s wife and the rabbits, mice and other “soft things” that Lennie likes to pet. In order for the students to understand her role in the story Gordon Baillie suggests an activity titled “Baby Bird.” In this activity the instructor will create a life like paper bird. Before presenting this bird to the class, the instructor should create a story about how the bird fell out of a tree. The instructor needs to encourage emotional attachment to the bird by naming the bird, suggesting a care plan and telling the students that the bird will surely die without their care. As soon as the class seems to be emotionally involved the instructor should fake the death of the bird and throw it in the trash. The students will be shocked at the harsh death of their bird. At this time it is important to make the connection between Curley’s wife and the bird relevant to the students. Baillie says, “They immediately went to Curley’s wife and the lack of empathy we experience for her. They linked her to the baby bird and even to the bird in the barn after her death and also to the fact that Steinbeck gives us even more of her before she is killed than we get at any point before, making her death even more tragic.” As the students discuss their new opinions of Curley’s wife ask them to chart their feelings into an emotional flow chart that includes why Steinbeck used Curley’s wife to bring on the climax. This activity will also help students build a better understanding of Lennie’s innocence. By analyzing Curley’s wife through discussion, students will then analyze Lennie’s ignorance to why Curley’s wife would let him “pet” her. This discussion will show the students that Lennie was a victim of an unforgiving society that would not take into account his childlike behavior.
As a wrap up activity students will be asked to create a poem based on one of the characters. They will pick three features from the characters to use as an influence in their poem. For instance, if a student picks Lennie they may use his love of soft things, his inability to hold a job due to his misunderstanding and his overwhelming size and strength. Students will them write a poem that captures the emotions of the character. After writing the poem, students will present them to the class. This activity will also give multiple perspectives of the character because each student will be adding his or her own adaptation to the character’s portrayal. This will be beneficial to the students, not only because they will exercise their creativity but also because they will see other’s views that may help them receive a deeper understanding of Steinbeck’s characters.
Steinbeck’s plot in Of Mice and Men is certainly a worthwhile text for American high schools because of its controversial story line. However, it has a plot that is driven by its characters. An understanding of the characters is crucial for the students to better relate to Steinbeck’s intentions in writing Of Mice and Men. Educators can explore the emotions of the characters and relate them to the emotions of the students. By exploring these emotions students will have a deeper connection to Steinbeck’s novel therefore creating an experience that will be hard to forget.
Baillie, Gordon. "Baby Bird." Creative Teacher Support. Web blog. Elma Studio, 21 Oct. 2012. Web. 16 Feb. 2013
Borgia, Laurel, and Carol Owles. “Terrific Teaching Tips.” Illinois Reading Council Journal 37.1 (2008): 47-50. Academic Search Complete.
Burns, Robert. “To a Mouse.” The Longman Anthology of British Literature. Ed. David Damrosch. New York: Pearson Longman, 2006. 135-136. Print.
Frost, Robert. "Death of a Hired Man." Poetry Foundation. Poetry Magazine, n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2013 .
Johnson, Celia Blue. "The Great Idea Chase." Writer 125.10 (2012): 30-31. Academic Search Complete. Web. 20 Mar. 2013.
Levine, Philip. "This is Working." Poetry Foundation. Poetry Magazine, 1992. Web. 14 Apr. 2013 .
Smagorinsky, Peter. Teaching English By Design: How to Create and Carry Out Instructional Units. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1996. Print.
Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men. New York: Penguin, 2002. Print.
“Part I: The Social Commentary of H.G. Wells”
Major Authors: 45103
May 9, 2013
Victorian Science Fiction novelist Herbert George Wells was best known for showing his readers the great possibilities of what science can bring to the future of society. Whether he was transporting a man through time, like in The Time Machine, genetically changing animals into humans, like in The Island of Dr. Moreau, making a man invisible, like in The Invisible Man, or terrifying his readers in a Martian invasion in War of the Worlds, Wells has always been able to take his readers on a fantastic ride that was far ahead of his time. Wells’ stories were not just a glimpse into the possibilities of the future but also a warning of the destructive side of Science. In his book, The Victorian Science Fiction in the U.K., Darko Suvin says, “[Science Fiction’s] intertexts were laicized travelogues and adventure stories as well as textbooks of the ‘positive’ sciences. This situation would change only with the advent of the Social-Darwinist intertext that triumphs in the ‘scientific romances’ of H.G. Wells, from The Time Traveler on” (Suvin 339). Within his stories, Wells creates social satires that point out the issues of the class system, religion and societies interest in science and its reliance on machines.
Wells’ very first novel, The Time Machine, published in 1895, is a story of a man that has invented a time machine. While traveling through time he lands in the year 802,701. What he discovers is that over the course of some eight million years, human kind has evolved into two different species, one called the Eloi, a stupid yet beautiful race, and the other called the Morlocks, an ugly carnivorous race that feeds on the Eloi. This particular scene is a representation of the class system in Great Britain. At this time London was a desolate place with streets over-run by poverty. At the same time, the wealth of the upper class was only growing. The Eloi represent the upper class through their beauty and the communistic style of their lives. The Morlocks represent the lower class. In The History of Science Fiction, author Adam Roberts states, “It can’t be denied that the Morlocks are identified in the tale as the Darwinian extension of the industrial proletariat” (Roberts 145). We can see this in the novella when the narrator states, “even now, does not an East-end worker live in such artificial conditions as practically to be cut off from the natural surface of the earth?” (Wells 52). Roberts also says, “the cannibalistic Morlocks literally eating the imbecilic if beautiful Eloi is easily read as a savage satire, or reverse satire, on the inherent violence of class in late nineteenth-century Britain; but the Swiftian allegory of Morlocks and Eloi is intensified by Wells’ provision of a quasi-scientific explanation for the fantastic and extreme state of affairs” (Roberts 145). Another fear represented in The Time Machine is the fear of Lord Kelvin’s Second Law of Thermodynamics. In 1862, Kelvin released a scientific theory that the earth was constantly getting cooler because of the energy lost by the Sun. Darryl Jones, in his essay “‘Gone into mourning for the death of the Sun’: Victorians at the End of Time” explains the Second Law of Thermodynamics further. He says that Kelvin discovered that something cannot come from nothing. The Solar System is a closed system and unless there is an unknown outside source feeding energy into the Sun then eventually it will die out (Jones 179-181). Because of the Industrial Revolution society took a much deeper interest in scientific findings, as did writers. In the final travels of Wells’ unnamed time traveler he finds himself on a beach looking at crab-like creatures that are struggling to survive on a dying beach in London under a burning out Sun as he witnesses the Sun die and the world end. This undoubtedly reflects Lord Kelvin’s Second Law of Thermodynamics because of the emphasis on the dying Sun. He also shows the fear of a dying London in The War of the Worlds, in fact, a title of one of his chapters is “Dead London.” Wells uses the image of a dark and dying city of London many times throughout his contemporary novels.
Wells also take a stab at organized religion in his novel The Island of Dr. Moreau. Adam Roberts calls this novel, “a compelling reworking of Frankenstein filtered through a more explicitly religious idiom” (Roberts 146). In this novel Dr. Moreau is exiled from London on charges of being inhumane and vivisecting animals. By chance, the narrator Prendick stumbles upon Dr. Moreau’s island and discovers that he has created human-like creatures to worship and serve him as their “father.” Throughout the novel the reader is introduced to several chants said by the creatures in a religious manner. Wells also alludes to the Bible, not only when describing the island like an Eden, but also when he creates the laws that the creatures must obey. For example, the law that states “Not to eat Flesh or Fish” is an allusion to God’s commands not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Roberts 146). As an atheist, Wells believed that following an organized religion to be unnecessary and somewhat silly. In this book he points out the foolishness of those following an organized religion by comparing them to the animals that Moreau has created. In the book, after Moreau is discovered dead, Prendick ensures the Beast people that Moreau has not died but has changed form instead: “‘For a time you will not see him. He is… there’- I pointed upward- ‘where he can watch you. You cannot see him. But he can see you. Fear the Law.’” This is a blasphemous look at the Christian belief that Jesus Christ is not dead but rather a spirit living beside his Father, God, in Heaven. Roberts says, “Wells later cheerily called the book ‘an exercise in youthful blasphemy… theological grotesque’ (quoted in Kemp)” (Roberts 147).
Although religion and social classes were major influences in Wells’ writings, no influence is greater shown than the fear of the unknown. He shows this in many of his novels. In The Invisible Man, Griffin, a scientist, discovers how to make himself invisible. The villagers in this novel fear Griffin because he is mysterious. Roberts says, “Authority depends, in involved but inescapable reasons, on seeing. Removed from that logic the invisible man is immediately a social threat” (Roberts 149).
In another book, The War of the Worlds, Wells writes of a Martian invasion on Earth. At this time Wells was inspired by the recent craters found on Mars that were suggested to be canals built by a species that was struggling to survive (Asimov 28). This sparked a fear in society, a fear of something they could not see. Wells, here again, used the unknown as a villain, playing off of societies fear of an invasion of a dangerous foreigner. Wells not only used societies fears of the unknown in this tale, but also the fact that Great Britain had just accomplished its goal in taking over Africa. The citizens of Africa, although they were not massacred and drained for their blood, were exploited for their work and resources. Here Wells was showing the British people the terror of being taken over by a race with superior technology and knowledge.
Once Well’s was quoted saying, “‘The nineteenth century, when it takes place with the other centuries in the chronological charts of the future, will, if it needs a symbol, almost inevitably have as that symbol a steam-engine running upon a railway’” (Ferguson 3). Wells noticed that society had an extreme reliability on, not science for knowledge, but science for material. Wells foretold that this change in society would lead to its downfall. In The Time Machine the main character, as he travels through time, unknowingly lands upon the last day of Earth. Because of his use of the time machine he experiences the moment when the Sun burns out. Dr. Moreau is unfortunately killed by his creations because of his inability to control them. Griffin drives himself mad because of his invisibility and the Martians from The War of the Worlds accidently stumble upon a tiny organism on Earth that they are unable to defend themselves against. All of these deaths are caused by the dangers of Science. Wells’ stories are a warning against the possibilities of science and the influences of society. Because of his social commentary his stories became more relatable to the reader and therefore became infamous and memorable.
Asimov, Isaac. “Science Fiction and Society.” Teaching Science Fiction: Education for Tomorrow. Ed. Jack Williamson. Philadelphia: Owlswick Press, 1980. Print.
Ferguson, Trish. “Introduction.” Victorian Time. Ed. Trish Ferguson. New York: Palgrave
Macmillan, 2013. Print. 1-14.
Jones, Darryl. “’Gone Into Mourning… for the Death of the Sun’: Victorians at the end of
Time.” Victorian Time. Ed. Trish Ferguson. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. Print.
Roberts, Adam. The History of Science Fiction. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. Print.
Suvin, Darko. Victorian Science Fiction in the U.K.: The Discourses of Knowledge and Power.
Boston: G.K. Hall & Co., 1983. Print.
Wells, Herbert George. The Invisible Man. New York: Penguin, 2007. Print.
Wells, Herbert George. The Island of Dr. Moreau. New York: Bantam Books, 1994. Print.
Wells, Herbert George. The Time Machine. London: Everyman, 1995. Print.
Wells, Herbert George. The War of the Worlds. New York: Penguin, 2005. Print.
“Part II: Teaching H.G. Wells”
Major Authors: ENG 45103
May 9, 2013
Herbert George Wells is one of the most influential authors of the Victorian Era. His novels have been adapted into many different films that still reach mainstream entertainment. Movies such as Hollow Man, The Island of Dr. Moreau, and The War of the Worlds have attracted big name stars, like Kevin Bacon, Marlon Brando, and Tom Cruise, as well as big audiences showing that Wells’ stories are still relevant in the Twenty-first century. Teaching Wells’ stories should include background information, attention to theme, and the study of the adaptations of each novel.
If teaching The Invisible Man in a classroom it would be important for the teacher to explain the fear of the unknown in the nineteenth century. At this time people were exposed to new technology and changing times that left their futures ambiguous, exciting, and unpredictable. Wells demonstrated this fear of society through his novel. After explaining this to the students we would read and discuss the book including its themes of insanity, the fear of the unknown, and science leading to the characters downfall. It is also important to analyze how well this text fits into today’s world. Students would then watch Hollow Man. After watching the movie students will discuss why the director made such changes and how the changes affected the story.
The same basic lesson plan will also be appropriate for the other two novels. However, there are specific elements of each novel that should be emphasized. In The Island of Dr. Moreau, students should focus on Wells’ satire. Here he is referencing organized religion, namely Christianity. It is important to know this so that students can catch the allusions throughout the novel. It is also important for students to create their own creatures so that they may see their interpretations come to life. In this adaptation there are serious changes made to the original novel. Students should create a Venn diagram to compare and contrast the differences. This will give students a better understanding of the changes that needed to be made to the text a hundred years later.
When analyzing The War of the Worlds the most significant part of the text is Wells’ description and terror when describing the aliens. Students will learn about the European invasion of Africa before reading this text so that they will understand that this is part of Wells’ social commentary on London. Students will also be asked to create their own alien based on Wells’ description. This will check their comprehension skills as well as their imagination.
Because Wells was a social commentator, students need to understand the lessons he was placing into his novels. Each one of Wells’ tales was warnings to the people of London that science can very well destroy a society. This was important because the Industrial Revolution was a driving factor in Wells’ society. Students, with a better understanding of the background information and comprehension of the text as well as the adaptations, will remember H.G. Wells’ stories for years to come.
“Education and Liberation”
Literature and Writing Seminar: ENG 49003
November 14, 2013
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Socrates was publicly executed and forced to drink poison because of his radical teaching ideas. Cabeza de Vaca advocated for the rights of the native people in America upon his return to Spain from exploring the new world. He was excommunicated from Spain in the late 1500s and died in poverty. Alice Paul, during the nineteenth century was sentenced to Occoquan Workhouse and forced to eat raw eggs through a feeding tube to end her hunger strike for Women’s Suffrage. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech on August 28, 1963. He was killed on April 4, 1968. All of these activists have an important common factor, besides courage that is. They were all educated and used education as a tool to provoke change for the betterment of society. These leaders went above and beyond the call for duty and used “radical” education to help defend themselves and fight for change. This kind of “radical” education and self-learning is not one that is promoted in America’s educational system. The American educational system is one that encourages stereotypes and discrimination in student learning and hinders the students in their quest for Truth and self-actualization. If the activists previously discussed would have allowed themselves to be hindered by a western, conservative educational system the changes that they have helped make for the betterment of the world would never have happened. Teachers need to be informed about the underlying discrimination and stereotyping that the American educational system provokes in order to create more self-actualized students who are capable of critical thinking and activism in hopes of creating a better world for all inhabitants. By using the Engaged Pedagogy as a guide, teachers can enlighten students and help them become self-actualized persons so that one day they may take steps toward creating a harmonious world where there is true equality for every person.
The Banking Method
The Banking Method, as described in detail by Paulo Freire in his essay “The Banking Concept of Education” and referred to as the “banking system” by bell hooks in her book Teaching to Transgress, is a method commonly used in public schools in America. This “banking method” places the teacher at the head of the class in an authoritative position over the students, who Freire describes as “patient, listening objects” (Freire 256). In these types of classrooms, teachers are giving students knowledge and the students are expected to store away the knowledge to use at a more significant (or measurable) time. Freire states that this approach “turns [the students] into ‘containers,’ into ‘receptacles’ to be ‘filled’ by the teacher” (Freire 257). He describes the students in this dehumanizing manner because this is how the “banking” method views students. Students are merely objects that a teacher uses to store her/his ideas and produce that information in a form of test scores.
bell hooks describes her first encounter with the banking method when she was forced into racial integration. “Knowledge was suddenly about information only. It had no relation to how one lived, behaved… We soon learned that obedience, and not a zealous will to learn, was what was expected of us. Too much eagerness to learn could easily be seen as a threat to white authority” (hooks 3). Here students were taught to avoid confrontation. This was considered a safe environment. Those who advocated for the integration wanted it to succeed. Therefore, it needed to produce results. Here education began to focus on measurable statistics instead of the ability to think. What these advocates did not realize is that they were hindering all of the students. They were focusing on short-term goals instead of long-term, life- long, learning. This leaks through to today’s system of education. Teachers do not focus on the self-actualization of students. Teachers, because their jobs are on the line, focus on preparing positive results for the state in hopes that they will be rewarded with a title that means very little to anyone but those who deliver said title.
During the time of anti-segregation, white activists believed that they were doing black children a favor by bringing them to white schools. Although their intentions were good, this thought is racist. Just like Columbus and other explorers sought to civilize or enlighten the Native Americans (who were neither unenlightened nor uncivilized), the white authority of the school systems thought that the black children needed to be given the opportunity to learn just like white children. They falsely assumed that all black schools were not as good as all white school. The white authority at the time did not stop to realize that the black students did not need their help with learning. hooks says that the integration of schools led to losing her love of school, as it did for many students, because she went from an involved style of teaching, where students were encouraged to voice their opinions and think critically, to a style of schooling where students were told to sit, listen and stay quiet to avoid confrontation. Were any of the previously mentioned activists afraid of confrontation or disagreements? No. This is because they were taught to question authority and to make their own decisions using their critical thinking skills. They knew that finding a voice that is different than the norm is valuable. It promotes change.
At The University of Rio Grande students are given the opportunity to study in one of the (self-proclaimed) best schools of Education in the state. Clearly, from this prestigious title, students that come from this institution will be the best, most effective teachers that will show the students a wealth of knowledge. As I conducted research based on the Engaged Pedagogy (or the Pedagogy of the Oppressed) I have learned that the “accomplished” teacher, the highest title awarded to teachers according to the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System, is a teacher that embodies the values that promote oppression. The “banking method” is a method that is, in fact, encouraged by state standards and standardized testing. In many videos that The Ohio Department of Education has provided for want-to-be “accomplished” teachers, the example teacher often asserts his or herself over the students to keep them calm, complacent, and well behaved. In one video, shown on the Ohio Department of Education website for teachers who wish to become an “accomplished” teacher, the teacher of a high school, special education, Social Studies class asks the students if her glass was have empty or half full. She does not let the students speak unless called upon. She tells a tardy student where to sit. She then shows the objective on the board for all of the students to see, so that they can see that the lesson is important because the state says it is important. Even though the teacher is an African American woman who puts down the perspective of the colonists toward non-white people she is still discriminating against her students because she does not show any respect toward their ability to make choices or their ability to be able to converse as an equal. She talks about the American Enlightenment period in her lesson and she says, “people are starting to think” (Lesson 28). This is an absurd statement. Clearly people have thought before Benjamin Franklin came into the picture. The American educational system is a biased system. It is an egocentric system that believes that if it is important to America, if it shows America in a good light, then it needs to be taught as fact.
In many classrooms that make use of the “banking” concept of education the students who think out side of the box or that show an interest or excitement in a subject are deemed dangerous, or worse “annoying,” for expressing their opinions or thoughts about a subject, especially if their opinions contradict those of the teacher. This is mainly because the “banking” method is one that “promotes prolonged silence or lack of student engagement” (hooks 39). Teachers are taught to follow the standards given by the state. They are told that the students are successful if they can pass this test or that exam. Schools that have a high percentage of students that score highly on a test are deemed “excellent” or given a “gold” ranking. The important question to ask here is: who is deciding that this school is excellent? Is it the students? Certainly not. It is the authority. The same people who determine what should be taught. One group of people decides if the students are successful and learning. At this time I want to point out another group of people who have decided if someone was successful- the slave owner. A slave owner allowed a slave to learn only what benefitted the owner. If this slave did as she/he was told and was successful in the tasks that the slave owner put to her/him, then that was an “excellent” slave. This man or woman was easy to oppress because they were taught that they were below equal.
Teachers often use the “banking” method to assert their authority. Like the teacher from the video previously mentioned, teachers misinterpret their knowledge as authority and demand respect because of it. “The teacher presents himself to his students as their necessary opposite” says Freire. This kind of thinking assumes that the students that are being taught are ignorant and need to be thankful for the all-knowing teacher that will guide them to enlightenment.
Freire explains that the “banking” method eliminates “creativity, transformation, and knowledge” (Freire 257). The students who are subjected to the “banking” method become passive. Their job is to sit, listen, and memorize. Through the “banking” method they are taught to conform to the rules of the authority figure- “Mrs. Doe said we need to memorize this for the test,” when they should really be saying things like, “I’m reading this book because I love baseball.” Students are told what to think about. They are shown “the important” pieces of knowledge needed to “succeed.” This is a flawed system that, Freire says, aligns with the goals of the oppressors “who care neither to have the world revealed nor to see it transformed” (Freire 258). As stated in the epigraph, education is a weapon that has ability to change the world and liberate the oppressed. The “banking” method does not do this; it creates an environment of assimilation “for the more the oppressed can be led to adapt to that situation, the more easily they can be dominated” (Freire 258). Education is seen as safe and effective to the oppressors if the students are learning only what they are meant to learn.
Although this “banking” method is one used by oppressors, it is also used for other reasons. Teachers find it easier to stand in front of twenty to thirty students and give a lecture than to sit and participate in a discussion and risk coming to a subject that a teacher is either ignorant to or uncomfortable talking about. hooks addresses this in her book. She says that many teachers are intimidated by the thought of a more progressive approach because “they fear losing control in a classroom where there is no one way to approach a subject” (hooks 36). Teachers are afraid of confrontation because they too have been taught to avoid such a thing. Teachers want their teaching environment to be a “safe” place (hooks 39), a place where students do not need to worry about offending anyone or, God forbid, sparking an emotional debate. This fear of the unknown effects is a fear of change, a fear of enlightenment, a fear of losing control or authority. This is discrimination.
What is Engaged Pedagogy?
From the writings of bell hooks I have learned that Engaged Pedagogy is a way of learning that liberates all involved in the process. Notice how the word “teaching” is not included in this short definition. This is because Engaged Pedagogy is not a way of a teacher teaching, but rather a path to self-actualization and liberation for both teachers and students. In this type of classroom there is not an authoritative head of the class. The teacher brings up a point of discussion and the students use critical thinking skills to evaluate and analyze the topic at hand. With the Engaged Pedagogy, students may take the topic in many different directions. This is a way for the students to see how many different topics relate to other topics that may interest them.
Teachers that want to use the Engaged Pedagogy also must use the Progressive philosophy of Education. This philosophy, led by John Dewey in the early twentieth century, was centered on the child and focused on how to use emotional and creative aspects to help stimulate and encourage students. It reaches above what the conventional teaching philosophies were achieving on Maslow’s Hierarchy, esteem needs and acceptance by society, and reached for self-actualization, the highest level on the Hierarchy. This level is achieved when an individual comes to her/his full potential and encompasses creativity, morality, and a sense of purpose.
Instead of a conservative (and common approach in the Appalachian area) version of the “banking” method, Engaged Pedagogy does not rely on the assertion of authority, but rather the well being of all people in the classroom. hooks sees this assertion as dangerous to the identity and wholeness of the student. Instead, she suggests that we take the approach of one of her mentors, Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, which emphasizes uniting a student’s body mind and soul. This kind of approach asks teachers to see students as whole persons who are on a search for higher sense of being as opposed to memorizing bits of knowledge that are chosen by the political standardized canon (hooks). In hooks’ book she talks about instances where people believe that black women writers are just reanimations of classic white male writers. She says that this is a defense mechanism for those who are unwilling to un-learn colonialism. She goes on to discuss how many of these types are afraid of the de-centering of Western civilizations and a white, male canon, and how they see it as cultural genocide. This fear is a deep-seated fear, stemming from egocentrism, a value of one’s own culture and seeing every other culture as ignorant or wrong, which is hard to uproot. What they do not understand is that this kind of canon “fails to nurture critical consciousness in students reifying classroom knowledge” (Florence 98). hooks feels that this fear can be counteracted with discussions and respect in the classroom. “To hear each other (the sound of different voices), to listen to one another, is an exercise in recognition” (hooks 41). This recognition is a way to rid the students of today of their engrained preference toward themselves. Egocentrism is a trait that the colonists and early explorers possessed that led to a huge genocide of the native people in what is now America. This trait has not left. Now that the world is constantly linked in, students are aware of other cultures through the lens of Americanized media, where commentaries from well dressed, beautiful men and women put a spin on every picture, video or cultural gathering. In a classroom where Engaged Pedagogy is embraced the students are encouraged to see the world with an unbiased lens, to hear voices that are different, but not wrong.
According to hooks, a teacher must first find self-actualization in order to help her/his students achieve it. Again hooks quotes Thich Nhat Hanh, “the practice of a healer, therapist, teacher or any helping professional should be directed toward his or herself first, because if the helper is unhappy he or she cannot help many people” (hooks 15). In Thich Nhat Hanh’s writings he almost always refers to a teacher as a “healer” because it is the teacher’s job to heal the separation between body, mind, and soul that has been engrained into what society believes to be the effective and appropriate way of teaching.
Many instructors feel unsure about the use of the Engaged Pedagogy because it is often inconvenient to view students as “whole human beings with complex lives and experiences rather than simply as seekers after compartmentalized bits of knowledge” (hooks 15). In the classroom teachers should create a space for the sharing of knowledge, not only from the teacher, but from the students as well. Discussions, interests and opinions will give students an opportunity to experience liberation through education.
Socrates was once quoted saying, “I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think.” This quote is a staple in hooks’ Engaged Pedagogy. The main idea is not to spit knowledge at students but rather to teach them to think and develop a love for learning that can grow into sense of freedom and self-fulfillment. It will be difficult to transform the classroom from what it is today because so many educators have been taught and value the “banking method” or the westernized canon. hooks says, “If we fear mistakes, doing things wrongly, constantly evaluating ourselves, we will never make the academy a culturally diverse place where scholars and curricula address every dimension of that difference” (hooks 33). In other words, hooks is wanting teachers to try. She is encouraging all to “commit [themselves] to the work of transforming the academy so that it will be a place where cultural diversity informs every aspect of our learning” (hooks 33). Martin Luther King Jr. often focused on a verse from the Holy Bible, Romans 12:2, “Be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewal of your minds” (hooks 33). This statement, whether of Christian belief or not, is a strong statement relating to the Engaged Pedagogy, encouraging all to value their minds, to reject the unfair and discriminatory ways the world influences learning to fight for self-actualization and liberation through and unbiased education.
Florence, Namulundah. bell hooks' Engaged Pedagogy. Westport: Bergin & Garvey, 1998.Print.
Freire, Paulo. "The 'Banking' Concept of Education." 1993. Ways of Reading: An Anthology for
Writers. Comp. David Bartholomae and Anthony Petrosky. 7th ed. Boston: Bedford/
St. Martin's, 2005. 256-70. Print.
hooks, bell. Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. New York:
Lesson 28: High School Special Education Social Studies. Prod. TAP: the System for
Teacher and Student Advancement. Ohio Department of Education. N.p., n.d. Web. 5
Nov. 2013. .
"Teacher Evaluation." Ohio Department of Education. Department of Education, 23 July 2013.
Web. 31 Oct. 2013. .