The Literature Workshop (Blau) – Chapter 1 & 2 Reflection
The Literature Workshop by Sheridan Blau
The first two chapters of The Literature Workshop use activities and scenarios in order to demonstrate the handicapping that occurs in the traditional model of literature instruction and the possibility of a new model. Often in college, the literature professor is importing knowledge onto his/her students. Students learn that they cannot understand literature on their own, without the aid of their professors. However, a literature workshop model puts the effort of understanding back on the students. It allows them to struggle with difficult texts and use their own rereading strategies and their classmates to find/form meaning.
One major benefit of the literature workshop is the development of metacognitive awareness in students. Students can explore what they know and what confuses them. Confusion is lauded because it is a pathway to deeper thinking. When students understand what confuses them, they self-confess that simply writing out their questions and rereading allows them to understand the text more. Asking questions allows them to rethink and to hypothesize answers, looking for evidence of their answers in the text. Through rating their understanding, students can become aware of how their understanding of literature grows through rereading and conversation. Students can no longer say, “I don’t understand it!” and quit. They will be able to see the various strategies will increase understanding.
Great philosophy and classroom activities in these first two chapters; however, I think I’m going to skim ahead to the writing chapters in the book in order to answer some more of my own questions about using literature as a springboard for writing.