Creating a healthy academic discourse in a (relatively!) non-selective classroom with pupils who haven’t chosen to be there.
What does it mean to ‘understand a text’? The interpretation of a text can be intensely personal, and to simply say an interpretation is wrong is very problematic. Understanding WHY someone thinks a certain way should be our hidden curriculum.
What interpretation is the truth of a text:
Is it our truth?
Is the truth of the teacher?
How about the truth of the leader?
What about the interpretation of established study guides?
This leads us to two conclusions:
1. One option is for absolute relativism.
2. The other point of view is to entirely deprioritise non-indicative content, from either the exam or just your judgement.
What should we do in this dichotomy? We should look at how academics aim (or should aim!) to determine dominant interpretations. It involves a community debating, of a respectful discourse. Of course academics are people, and dominant interpretations can be based on authority or what is culturally popular, or even lucrative. But the principle remains: alternative interpretation should be debated in good faith.
I have been playtesting some ways of sharing and debating different interpretations of the text. Find that here. It aims for everyone to:
- share the same concepts/themes in a text,
- to organise what concepts are most meaningful to you.
- To recognise, debate and celebrate difference, nuance and hedging.
What do the ideas of 1984 mean to you? How can you relate the concepts in a way meaningful to you that can be applied beyond the text?
See this example: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1IFN6W-ColsDYqr0eceQVYlR0wxVnwCfaRX8DZTzrykQ/edit#
Two interpretations of ‘Their Eyes were Watching God’ from two teachers…
See this example: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1hOP6zAigB-UXDanDQ9OBmuNXnsxWqFE4fAzl4aSYszQ/edit#
This practice aims to synthesize the need to understand different interpretations while still understanding the dominant interpretations.
Our hidden curriculum here is seeing and celebrating how people see the same text in different ways. It means ‘no idea must fail’.
How are minority voices heard? Marginalised interpretations still shared and celebrated?