ERIC Number: ED285195
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1987-Feb
Insiders and Outsiders: Teachers and Students Confront the Text.
Richard, Blakeney J.
Because students often come to a literary text without the prerequisite knowledge to understand or explicate it fully, they can be thought of as outsiders, needing the help of insiders, or experts in literature, to "learn the text's secrets." Moreover, students often do not fully comprehend how much of literature rests on symbolism that demands special knowledge to fully appreciate it. However, literature, particularly Western literature, has a history of using symbolism that has rendered works readable at a surface level as well as an inner, more complex level. The parables of the Good Samaritan, for instance, can be read as advice to care for one's neighbors, or as an analogy for divine love and the Second Coming. John Bunyan, Jonathan Swift, and Henry Fielding also implant mysteries or "secrets" in their work, partly for the amusement of becoming an "insider" by untangling literary puzzles, and partly in imitation of the Biblical notion of the incomprehensibility of God. Teachers can assist students in becoming insiders by acquainting them gradually with the idea of symbols. The use of popular songs or poetry in the classroom can help them feel comfortable with the idea of symbols. (JC)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Texas Joint Council of Teachers of English (22nd, Corpus Christi, TX, February, 5-7, 1987).