Continued from the previous entry is the fact that every day I think about my job and how long I want to do it.
As planned, I passed my sheet of commentary (grouped around "elements of fiction"--setting, language, plot and the rest, ending with theme) and did my loop through the 7 table clusters. Even at that more intimate level, the students were reluctant to talk, unless I put a question or comment to any one person directly. My questions about "the experience of listening to and reading along with 'Sweethearts' the other day" didn't seem to make sense.
Sitting at each table, I could respond better to individuals, and they to me, I suppose. But the whole exercise didn't do much to get them closer to the story, I don't think.
I had the sense that just before and just after my pop-in, each group subsided, but for the diehards (bless their hearts), into talk about anything else but "Sweethearts".
Over at The Catcher in the Rye, I was engaged in a similar task: getting to know Holden Caulfield, with a class of 33 English 110 students. Holden's easy, in one way, bringing me up against an issue, call it a problem, across all classes: people content to do the minimum--in this case, pin Holden to a convenient definition.
In case this all sounds too negative, I'll say again that the act of inventing these ideas or variants of existing ideas--let's put them all into that category--is what I love about my job. When, as with Catcher, the acts of understanding the achievement of that novel and getting students into Holden's voice, so to speak, overlap, that's when the good stuff goes on.
I think I've decided to continue in this vein.