Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tasks and Understandings

Mulling over my last post a bit, the pet Hamlet unit I refer to was built around basically these two tasks:

Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.

Analyze how an author draws on and transforms source material in a specific work (e.g., how Shakespeare treats a theme or topic from Ovid or the Bible or how a later author draws on a play by Shakespeare).

But those tasks were heavily scaffolded and really a jumping off point for an exploration of the emergence of modern drama and modernity itself.

I suppose that could count as:

Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

But those three bits don't add up to what I was trying to get at -- something much simpler would do just to meet those three standards, particularly if you're just prepping for a test. What I really had in mind was more like this Finnish objective of instruction:

(for students to) consolidate their knowledge of literature, thus developing their thinking, expanding their all-round learning in literature, their imagination and artistic insight and vision and constructing their world view;

If you've got the first three but not the overarching reason, you've got a problematic foundation for a discipline.

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