Friday, December 28, 2012

Literature and reverence

Diana Senechal again:

The Chorus in Antigone says that he who honors the laws of the land and the justice of the gods will be hupsipolis, that is, he will have a great city. One could say this about literature: if students learn to enter it and honor it, they will have the makings of a rich life. They will also have an opening to true difference; by immersing themselves in the sole voice of another, they will start to hear their own voice, assenting, questioning, disputing, singing along, starting a new poem or song. Much of this literature is difficult for readers today; the ideas may seem distant, the words obscure, or the sentences long and complex. It is the teacher’s duty to help the student enter the work, and this takes time and care. It cannot be done when students in a given class are reading many different works at the same time. It requires a certain reverence — not the reverence of calling an author “great” just because everyone else does, but the reverence of treating the work, for a little while, as the most important thing in the room and mind.

Republic of Noise: The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2012).

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