Turning the Soul: Teaching Through Conversation in the High School

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University of Chicago Press, Apr 21, 1991 - Education - 213 pages
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Is our nation's educational system faltering in part because it strives to teach students predetermined "right" answers to questions? In Turning the Soul, Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon offers and alternative to methods advocated by conventional educational practice. By guiding the reader back and forth between two high school classes discussing Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, she gracefully introduces the alternative approach to education: interpretive discussion.

One class, located in a private, racially integrated urban school, has had many conversations about the meaning of books. The second group, less advantaged students in a largely black urban school, has not. The reader watches as students in each group begin to draw upon experiences in their personal lives to speculate about events in the play. The students assist one another with the interpretation of complex passages, pose queries that help sustain the conversation, and struggle to "get Shakespeare right." Though the teachers suffer moments of intense frustration, they are rewarded by seeing their students learn to engage in meaningful exchange.

Because Turning the Soul draws on actual classroom conversations, it presents the range of difficulties that one encounters in interpretive discussion. The book describes the assumptions about learning that the use of such discussion in the classroom presupposes, and it offers a theoretical perspective from which to view the changes in both students and teachers.
  

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Contents

An Introduction to Chalmers and Belden Schools
23
Why Do Teachers Fail to Draw upon Students Experiences in Discussion?
39
What Does a Good Interpretive Discussion Look Like?
53
How Are Students and Teachers Transformed through Discussion?
71
The Phony Issue
73
The Genuine Issue
85
The Group Emerges
101
The Evaluative Discussion
118
Getting It Right
132
How Do Students Learn to Build an Interpretation?
147
Getting It Wrong
149
Getting It Right Again
164
Problems and Possibilities
177
Notes
191
Index
209
Copyright

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Page 12 - learn from experience" is to make a backward and forward connection between what we do to things and what we enjoy or suffer from things in consequence. Under such conditions, doing becomes a trying; an experiment with the world to find out what it is like; the undergoing becomes instruction discovery of the connection of things.
Page 2 - A society which makes provision for participation in its good of all its members on equal terms and which secures flexible readjustment of its institutions through interaction of the different forms of associated life is in so far democratic. Such a society must have a type of education which gives individuals a personal interest in social relationships and control, and the habits of mind which secure social changes without introducing disorder.

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About the author (1991)

Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon, who taught in the public schools for five years, is now assistant professor of education at the University of Chicago. She is coeditor of From Socrates to Software: The Teacher as Text and the Text as Teacher.

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