Friday, May 3, 2013

teaching, learning, postmodernism and criticism

Teaching is hard, especially in today's school culture. Standing up in front of the room and suggesting that everyone think about what you have to offer puts a bullseye on your forehead and practically begs people to ask questions like, "Who do you think you are?" and "Why should I listen to you?" I want to thank Ashlie for giving it a shot, especially in my absence.

As you know, postmodernism can be confusing to people who don't have much experience with it. We are surprised by the unfamiliar, and not always in a fun, exciting, opening-a-birthday-present kind of way. This is as true in life as it is in literature. It must have been a shock for the sub to see a student acting as teacher, in the same way some of you were taken aback by Vonnegut inserting himself as a character in the fictional novel he wrote. And, just as some of you were unprepared for Vonnegut's language, imagery, and humorous treatment of war, apparently the sub was unprepared for the language and subject matter addressed in the videos Ashlie used to illustrate elements of the postmodern project you're doing over the weekend. (I don't know what she showed and I'll ring on that when we see each other next week.)

All too often we communicate in ways that don't bring us closer to the truth or each other. I was sorry to hear--from several sources-- that the conversation between the sub and Ashlie turned negative and disrupted the class. I'd like to propose that we learn from it.  Here are three ways off the top of my head:

First: Please be sure to complete your postmodern presentation: the in-class exchange does not in any way change our itinerary or your obligations.  It may change the way you see viewer/reader response to postmodernism; do you think there is a generational difference?  Can you imagine a reader feeling irritated at the breakdown of the fourth wall?

Second: Please read this letter from Kurt Vonnegut to the Superintendent who burned copies of Slaughterhouse Five because the book contains "obscene" language.

Third: Please understand that no compelling/impactful/innovative/disruptive new idea or presentation is ever met with universal acceptance.  Innovation and entrepreneurship of any kind require a combination of resilience and the ability to refine & strengthen practice in light of critical feedback.  ONWARD!

All comments/observations are welcome.  


  1. The videos that Ashlie showed weren't that bad got off topic but they weren't to bad

  2. Must we do this project? I honestly do not feel so confident in doing this. i feel as if it was just thrown at us. And plus i dodn't like this book as much as the last one :(

    1. Life is full of surprises. You have to be able to handle what ever comes your way, trust me when I say it does not get easier. It's better to have this technique under your belt now and be able to face pressure. Besides this really is a very free project to do whatever you please as long as you make notice that you comprehend what post modernism is. I gave it as such so it wouldn't be such a burden. And I understand the feeling of not liking a book, but so it goes. Life is not perfect. You have to take the bull by the horns.You got this! Don't worry. If you need anything described further or need any help at all just let me know. Best of luck!

  3. yeah can we at least go over it again?

  4. Not all videos were used for the post modern project, some where just to let you have a breather and suggest things you might like to watch with our time. But thank you for that. And we can definitely go over it again! That is not a problem at all!