Each year I find students who want to better know the curious attractions cultural capital: from my form group (or me!) who want to sing passages from Bohemian Rhapsody, and wish to know the individual plot synopsis for each Shakespearean play, to those students who aspire to become professors in humanities or science.
To these students I see the precious classroom time that we spend together as too important to be spent on motivating to ‘work harder’. My expertise (as yours, my dear reader) is perhaps best placed to guide and tweak the efforts of our students while we have a chance. In pedagogical terms, a teacher who can mark and model is a ‘real’ teacher, or rather a teacher of that subject. These are the two skills by which a teacher should (I think) be judged upon in terms of observable skills, while the rest of an observation should be based upon the assessment of a teacher’s knowledge of what they were doing, and why they were doing it.
To those students who want to better themselves rapidly, I would recommend the (free, incredibly!) site http://www.crossref-it.info/. Since first seeing it five years ago, I have been continually impressed by how it not only ‘fills in the gaps’ for students who are bereft of a classical education (ahem, quite a few then!), but it can also provide a guided foundation to the foundations of literature. I will set a homework next week that involves students researching this site, and producing a useful resource that will benefit the class. It may very well be something along the lines of:
“Research two of these ‘big ideas’ from the Classics: where in a modern book, film or story do you recognise the themes? Produce either a 15 sentence report or equivalent comparison table to produce for your peers.” http://www.crossref-it.info/repository/big-ideas-classics/?q=&submit=Go
Students show personal insight when applying big-idea to modern text
Students explain how big-idea applies to modern text
Students describe how big-idea applies to modern text
Students identify how big-idea applies to modern text