Thursday, September 24, 2009

Facet # 2: Interpret!

Now the 2nd Facet seems sort of similar to #1 (especially when you notice that it is included in #1's definition) but does deserve its stand-alone position.

As per, Interpret is defined as the following:

To construe or understand in a particular way.

Now for me, this is a great level of understanding to aim for as it fits perfectly within the English classroom. Many of us striving to be English teachers will be astonished to find the multi-faceted nature of interpretation that our classes embody. While we will be teaching dozens of students, it must always be remembered that each student's interpretation of a text will mirror their own individuality. Sometimes we may get lucky and we'll have a unanimous consensus on what a particular text is trying to say. More often than not, we'll find our students surprising us with a unique perspective on a text that even we failed to acknowledge.

While it may seem intimidating for us to be faced with students that could challenge our own interpretations of a text (The horror! Students thinking for themselves!), we should welcome each student's unique interpretation of a text. For example, my interpretation of F.Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is based on my views of class and capitalism. From a non-Marxist perspective, a student may see the novel as a poignant illustration of the alienating effects of wealth. While different from my own, this opinion is valid and extremely critical to our class's eventual interpretation of the text. Without contrasting and differing views, my class may find whatever my interpretation of a text as both irrelevant and oppressive. In getting kids to share their unique interpretations, my classroom gains the advantage of being a welcoming and inclusive academic environment.

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