An analysis of the teaching of prose literature in grade twelve
LaRochelle, Donald Adrien
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Problem.-- The problem is twofold: (1) to review recent professional literature concerning the teaching of prose literature in high school; and (2) to analyze current textbooks for teaching literature in the twelfth grade. The information gained from these two sources indicates professional recommendations concerning objectives, selection, organization, method, teaching aids, and evaluation in the area of prose literature and the extent to which these recommendations are adopted in a sampling of current textbooks. It was assumed that the suggestions in professional publications, written by experienced teachers who have become authorities in their field, would be representative of the best. The writer felt that the information gained would be of value both to the teaching profession and to himself as a prospective teacher. Scope and limitations of the study.-- 1. The study includes the teaching of prose literature in high school. The review of professional literature is concerned with recommendations concerning purpose, selection, organization, methods, teaching aids, and evaluation. The textbooks represent those in current use. 2. The study is limited to the teaching of prose literature, exclusive of drama, in the senior high school. The textbook analysis is confined to a group of twelve anthologies published since 1940, suitable for use in the twelfth grade. Procedure.-- Current professional publications and a representative group of widely used textbooks were analyzed with reference to the following: 1. Objectives in the teaching of literature 2. Content 3. Organization 4. Methods 5. Teaching aids 6. Evaluation The data were compiled and tabulated. A comparison of the data from the two sources was made and the resulting conclusions reported. Major findings and conclusions.-- In general the textbooks analyzed follow the prescriptions of the authorities in the field, although marked differences occur in certain areas. 1. Objectives.-- Reading for the sake of enjoyment and interest receives great stress by both sources. Of the two, professional publications more often hold broader aims, such as studying literature as an aid to living and to understanding the world and its people; while the textbooks emphasize reading to enrich the personality and to understand the development of American ideals. 2. Selection.-- Both sources place a great deal of importance on the use of material of interest and high literary quality. They agree that the new and the old in literature should serve as bases of study. Professional literature emphasizes that selections should be suited to the individual, but little is said to this effect in the textbooks. Although professional opinion does not recommend the literature of any particular nationality for the twelfth grade, English literature is most frequently presented in the textbooks, with American literature next in frequency. 3. Organization.-- There is complete agreement concerning the employment of a free reading program. Most professional sources advocate organization by theme or topic, but the period approach is still the most popular in the textbooks. Organization by type is recognized as one of less importance by both sources, while none of the textbooks stresses the intensive study of a single author, as suggested on occasion by some educators. The group study of specific selections, correlation of literature with other high-school courses, and the integration of reading, writing, speaking, and listening are recommended by both. 4. Methods.-- Professional sources and the textbooks agree that the study of ideas and creative thinking are of utmost importance as methods of approach to literature. The textbooks, however, are likely to accord the study of character and the study of the author the prominence given to the study of social content and the use of creative activities in the professional publications. The review of professional literature revealed that there is a dwindling interest in the direct study of authors for high-school years. The study of plot, theme, and style is recommended by both. Although considerable is said for the study of the prose types, this method is the most poorly represented in the textbooks. Neither source emphasizes the study of literary history in high school as more than an occasional approach in later years. 5. Audio-visual aids.-- In this area the textbooks fall short of the recommendations of the authorities. None of the twelve textbooks is organized so as to include definite lessons based upon the use of audio-visual aids. Neither are such aids listed or suggested in any order. All of the textbooks do include illustrations and some, time charts. As few as twenty-five activities in the twelve textbooks call, for the use of audio-visual aids. Those mentioned are maps, pictures and illustrations, recordings, samples, works of art, and models. 6. Evaluation.-- Here again the textbooks do not measure up to the recommendations of the authorities for evaluative instruments in the areas of knowledge, information, and understandings; skills and abilities; and attitudes, tastes, and appreciations. Only one of the twelve textbooks includes a concomitant testing program. Suggestions for further study.-- 1. Similar studies on other grade levels 2. An historical development of the teaching of literature 3. A comparative study of success in the teaching of literature through traditional and modern methods 4. The development of tests of attitudes, tastes, and appreciations in literature.
Thesis (M.A.)--Boston University
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