"To inspire them to realize more and more of their capacities for living meaningful lives. Because there certainly is meaning to life."
-John Coltrane on Uplifting Others

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Effects of Consuming Literature and Making Movies

As I search the commons for pictures to place in my Hughes video, I couldn't help but start wondering, "Why is this important? How is making a visual representation of Hughes' poem going to help students learn?" A thought that is somewhat pervasive throughout my school years is the necessity of learning literature and history. In a world drenched in technology and driven by science, teaching poetry seems counterproductive. I remember in high school having my English classes justified as being "essential for management; learning how to write will land you a job." The stories and such are trivial compared to good grammar.
I didn't feel that way about English; although I scored poorly in class, I loved (and still do) to read. I found in books not so much an escape from the pine trees of East Texas, but a view into other worlds. I devoured books, because I felt a connection to the characters.
A few weeks back I found an interesting blog post about this very subject. In it, the author laments the downfall of reading. Like me, she observes the importance of literature to enter into the lives of others. That is the key for literature. Literature allows people to experience the "other," peoples and cultures unlike anything readers have experienced.
The question now is: what does this have to do with my movie?
If literature is the doorway to understanding or appreciating other cultures, then responsibility falls upon teachers to find ways for students to understand that culture. I am a Anglo-American who has lived in the South my entire life. If I want to understand even remotely "Theme for English B," I have to find images and accounts of what it means to be a Black Man during the early 20th century. What's more, I have to find ways to convey what it meant to be an African American in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance. I will never fully understand those feelings, but through the music, images, words, and accounts left behind, I can construct the mood surrounding the feelings. I see this movie as conveying this moment for students and myself. In this way, I can understand the "other," and gain an appreciation.

1 comment:

  1. Great reflection! I agree that we need to be careful not to let reading, and the love of reading to be neglected in our media-rich world. I also agree, though, that sometimes media can help draw us into a good book or poem, but helping us see and understand the context and setting for the piece.