Sunday, February 22, 2009

Making the Art Come Alive

Last week as part of an observation I returned to an AP Literature classroom to see a discussion of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  It was a fantastic discussion and the teacher brought in the film versions of the current film and the A & E version also.  Before she showed the films, as a class we discussed the portion of the text that we were going to watch, which happened to be the first time that Mr. Darcy proposes to Elizabeth.  We read through the text and the teacher talked about how important this part is and pointed out a few of the elements that make Austen so special and timeless.  Then we did something that I was not expecting, but was the absolute highlight of my day – the teacher asked me to read the part of Mr. Darcy. 

So she read aloud the dialogue of Elizabeth and I was Mr. Darcy and we went back and forth with the beautiful language and syntax of Austen coming alive in front of our eyes.  It was so much fun acting out that part and really giving life, shape, and meaning.  What was even more awesome for me was that I was sitting in a room full of girls – the boys were all reading another novel and had left the classroom to discuss it.  So here I am acting out the part of one of the most well known male figures in English literature in front of a bunch of girls.  Let me tell you though, that this was one of the most fun experiences I have had so far in student teaching.  Not because of the acting, which was really enjoyable, but because the text came alive and actually began to mean something to the girls in this class.  I could tell by their laughter, joy, and excitement that they had begun to look at Austen in a completely different way. 

As I walked out of the class that day I thought one thing: “This is why I study Language Arts – because it is fun, especially when you get into it, and it is totally applicable to real life.”