Cognitive Workout

I’ve been working on my syllabus for a senior seminar: Texts Teachers Teach. My intention is to teach texts that are frequently taught in secondary schools–but that aren’t often taught at the university level. It’s a class that has grown out of frustration that the high school canon hasn’t changed much in the last 30-40 years. I look at the texts that are commonly taught–Lord of the Flies, 1984, Animal Farm–and, frankly, I’m surprised that contemporary readers still make connections to these texts. But since they are the reality of the high school curriculum, I’ve decided to help our students get a head start on curriculum design.

My own design of this class has been a bit rocky. There’s so much I want to do in the class that the first draft of my syllabus was crazy-out-of-control in assigning so much reading and writing. I’m trying to scale things back and be a little more reasonable in my expectations. It actually helped yesterday when I wrote my objectives for the course–these helped me make better curricular decisions and  narrow my focus. I’ve realized that the point of the class isn’t to help students learn to design curriculum, rather I want to acquaint them with issues related to teaching secondary English, to help them hone their abilities to analyze texts, and to develop materials that will eventually strengthen their curriculum.

The course is taking shape . . . although I still have a lot of work to do on it.

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