The Art of Teaching Secondary English: Innovative and Creative Approaches

By David Stevens; Nicholas McGuinn | Go to book overview
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6

Romantic culture and the intercultural imperative

The unpoetic view of things is that which considers everything to be dismissed through the perceptions of the senses and the findings of our understanding; the poetic view is that which goes on for ever interpreting them and sees in them an inexhaustible fount of images…. Thereby everything comes alive to us.

August Wilhelm Schlegel

As we have tried to demonstrate throughout this book, there is no reason why those stalwarts of the English curriculum, personal imaginative growth and subjective aesthetic awareness, should be incompatible with social development and dispassionate critical appraisal. And, by the same token, there is every reason for creatively connecting a fundamentally Romantic sense of wonder with an interculturally oriented critical literacy, elicited as both may be by enterprising and resourceful English teaching. Required here is a meaningful synthesis, a re-conceptualisation of what English teaching could mean for the twenty-first century, in terms of both theory and practice. This is, effectively, the continuing message of the present book. It is important that the emphasis is on genuine, principled synthesis, rather than envisaging English as something of an eclectic collection of half-realised ideas: a bit of personal growth here, and some cultural heritage there, leavened by adult needs with a sprinkling of critical literacy to assuage any remaining radical tendencies. As Burgess (Burgess et al. 2002:33) has pointed out, specifically in relation to the teaching of writing in English classrooms but with far broader implications:

the right approach is surely synthesis. It is not impossible to conceive a practice that attends to the kinds of modelling and to the more explicit forms of instruction that are proposed through concentrating on text, but does not neglect attention to the writer or to wider cultural considerations concerning literacy…. It would be a loss to English if at the point of seeking to implement new strategies and practices too much emphasis were placed on contrast with past practice rather than

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