Title

You can’t play if you don’t know the rules: Interpretive conventions and the teaching of literature to lower-track students

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1998

Publication Title

Reading & Writing Quarterly: Overcoming Learning Difficulties

Department

Education

Abstract

This teacher?research effort reports on student discourse from two lower?track secondary English classrooms. Two questions guided the study: Will direct instruction of specific interpretive strategies promote critical engagement with literature for our students? How is the teacher's classroom role affected by such instruction? We found evidence that students took a questioning stance toward literary texts, read between the lines, and made personal connections. In addition, placing interpretive strategies at the center of the curriculum freed the teacher from endorsing a particular interpretation and helped redistribute literary authority in the classroom. While our students appeared capable of complex interactions with literature, we argue that they were unlikely to do so alone; simply opening up the classroom to student responses may not work. These students needed focused practice in collaborative settings with specific criteria in order to experience the rich transactions that literature can provide.

Volume

14

Issue

4

pp.

355-377

ISSN

1540-7942