Transactional theory in the teaching of the novel, grades 4-12

Dawe, Robert T. (1989) Transactional theory in the teaching of the novel, grades 4-12. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

This thesis advocates a re-evaluation of novel study. Grades 4 to 12. It appears that too few students have formed the habit of turning to literature for pleasure and insight. Many high school graduates distrust their personal response to the novel, some even feel they lack the capacity to enjoy or understand works of literature. The novel for them has been too much something to know about, something to summarize or analyze or define. Teaching has been analogous to a spectator sport where the student sits on the sidelines watching the teacher react to the work of art. The teacher, in an effort to crystallize the ideas about a text for some test, often rushes past the process of active creation and re-creation of the text by the student. -- Transactional theory suggests that the teacher at any level of instruction must concern himself with three aspects of literary experience - the work itself, the reader, and the interaction of the text and the reader. The experience of literature, far from being for the reader a passive process of absorption, is a form of intense personal activity. -- The purpose of this thesis then is two-fold: First, patterning on the stages of mental growth established by A.N. Whitehead, this thesis argues for a developmental approach to the teaching of the novel. Students move through three stages of growth from a state of unconscious enjoyment to a conscious delight of books. The Romantic stage (Grades 4-8) is a time in which students explore, read and react freely to a wide variety of texts. The Precision stage (Grades 9-11) is a period in which students consider alternative responses and examine further both the craft of the novel and their own reaction to it. The Generalization stage (Grade 12) is the time of conscious delight in which the student has the power to synthesize all the literary elements into a unified pattern. -- Second, this thesis advocates the application of transactional theory in the teaching of the novel at each stage. The accompanying teacher strategies are aimed to facilitate principles inherent in that reader-response approach with its emphasis on the role of the reader. The reader's background and the feelings called forth by the reading are not only relevant, they are the foundation upon which understanding of a text is built. Transactional theory encourages students to put themselves into the character's place, interpret what's happening to the character as a commentary on what actually is happening to them. The proposed strategies place priority on collaborative activities, students talking together to come to an understanding of a literary text. An awareness that others have different experiences with a novel should simply lead the reader back to the text for a closer look. The methodology assigns responsibility to the student for making meaning in reading and writing. Procedures outlined devalue somewhat the teacher's role as dispenser of knowledge, arbiter of correctness, but aims instead to make the students more autonomous and committed readers. It is through a critical scrutiny of their responses - and here the teacher's role is crucial - that the readers can come to understand their personal attitudes and gain the maturing perspective needed for a fuller and sounder response to literature.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/906
Item ID: 906
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 274-284
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: 1989
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Literature--Philosophy; Fiction--Study and teaching

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