Literary summaries and analyses. In developing a library collection, teacher can’t agree.
For some, there is a double standard with regards to literary guides such as Blooms Literary Themes or the Understanding Literature series published by Lucent. One school where I taught shelved every volume (every edition) of MasterPlots “for teacher use only” because…a plot summary and analytical overview is a “refresher” for teachers and “cheating” for students!? Cliffnotes, SparkNotes…the cheap way out of reading required materials.
Others teachers welcome the guides and the fresh, updated takes they offer. They generally believe that any student willing to read the guide is probably immersed in the literary experience. It’s for these teachers that I share the 60 Second Recap, a great site, whose mission is to “make the great works of literature accessible, relevant, and, frankly, irresistible to today’s teens…to help teens engage with the best books out there … not just to help them get better grades, but to help them build better lives.” This is how the site introduces it’s mission:
“Eat your lima beans,” Mom used to say.
And now that you’re out on your own, honestly, are lima beans a staple of your culinary repertoire?
There, in a lima bean, lies the problem confronting the great works of literature. We’re all forced to read them in school so we can get good grades so we can go to a good college so we can get a good job so we can forget all about that literature they used to force us to read so we could get good grades.
The 60second Recap™ aims to break this cycle of canonical irrelevance. We want to help teens (yes, teens of all ages!) engage with literature. We want to help them see it not as some chore to be endured, but as — dare we say it? — the gift of a lifetime. How? Through the language of our time — the language of video. Video that’s focused, engaging, informative … and short enough to hold just about anyone’s attention.
Smirk if you must. Consider this yet another mile-marker on civilization’s road to perdition. But here’s the fact: You won’t get non-readers to read by forcing them to read more. You’ll get them to read by opening their eyes to the marvels awaiting them between the covers of that homework assignment.
With the 60second Recap™, teens finally have an alternative to the boring, text-based study guides that have burdened them for generations. And — who knows? — maybe that’s just what they’ll need to begin a love affair with literature, one that will last a lifetime.
The site offers teens an opportunity to join ClubRecap, where they can get quick instructional videos that clarify literary concepts and terminology, as well as comment on the recaps offered through the site and request additional recaps. The opportunity to participate in community is irresistible to a generation of young people hooked on the power of social networking!
One thing I’d like to see here…the opportunity for teachers to post video segments into a blog or website…for guided, manageable instruction.