animeHrmIne wrote:How do you feel about alternate interpretations of the literature you teach?
My questions are simply, how do you deal with situations like this, and do you have any advice on what we could do, besides wait for the end of the week when the Unit is over, and hope that A Tale of Two Cities isn’t as polarizing()
Also, should that last sentence end in a period or a question mark? This is when I envy Spanish, where you can clearly separate the interrogative and indicative parts of a sentence.
Well, I mostly like to value any interpretation of a text if it has merit. The other day we looked at a poem and when someone posited an interpretation I hadn't considered, I lauded her on her ingenuity and took a minute to elaborate on the possibility. In retrospect, I don't think her interpretation is aligned with the poet's intention, and if I took the time to think about it I would point out why I'm sticking with the original interpretation. BUT: I'm thrilled she offered that interpretation. I like when students go out on a limb.
At other times, as is often the case, I hear interpretations that are more like guesses; a student is trying to piece things together and come to a conclusion, but the evidence is lacking or the notion wasn't completely thought through. For these cases, I'll nod my head in consideration, reiterate the student's idea, and give evidence for why I agree or disagree. In most cases, after hearing my side, students agree. But when they offer additional evidence that I'd overlooked or *gasp* misread, I'm happy to concede.
On the other hand, I've had interpretations that I can't call anything other than wrong. I don't like to say a student is wrong at interpretation, and I avoid it when possible. Still, there are those instances where someone is taking a shot-in-the-dark, or has sorely misunderstood a passage. In these cases, I don't think there's any debate after we look at more correct possibilities. I won't dismiss an answer unless it holds no credence.
As for your case, I'd be interested in seeing the sort of interpretations that your teacher shoots down. If your claims are opinionated and rooted in the text, then I think any interpretation is worth hearing.
My suggestion for your sentence:
My questions are, simply: How do you deal with situations like this? And do you have any advice on what we could do, besides wait for the end of the week when the Unit is over and hope that A Tale of Two Cities isn’t as polarizing?