BookView Review: Teaching Literature for Cognitive Development: A Double Perspective by Don Gutteridge

BookView Review rated it:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Teaching Literature for Cognitive Development: A Double Perspective

Don Gutteridge

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In a series of meaningful essays, Gutteridge reflects on teaching literature for cognitive development. He calls for a new paradigm in the study and teaching of literature, and argues for the need to reduce the boundaries that separate the two classes of students—“the general level” group who’re considered average readers and seemingly need help with both comprehension and follow-up writing, and “the brighter” batch, who is capable of any sophisticated form of response to great literary works. Insisting that the former group might well respond to fine literature as deeply in some respects as the academic group, Gutteridge delves into the work of renowned psycholinguistics, such as Moffett and Holdaway experiments (James Moffett (Moffett and Wagner, 1976) and Don Holdaway, (1979)), and shares that literature set in a highly controlled context not only enhance comprehension levels but also advances cognitive skills. If we shun the practice of student classification into oversimplified experiential, moral, or intelligence norms, it will change the way we think about our English programs in schools, such as an equal exposure of good literature, the use of the best literature appropriate to age and learning style because of its predictive patterning and psychological attraction, the use of only two learning styles instead of multiple streamlines, offering high-quality literature to students in a dynamic manner among others. And if teachers can recognize the significance of the cognitive, accepting that all students can and do become a better reader each day of their lives while accepting the limitations with good grace, then a real change can be brought. In the end, it is not the role of literature that needs to be re-defined, but the way it’s taught in schools. This slim volume makes for a must-read for all high school English teachers.


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