No Learning without Feeling
Claire Needell Hollander
Questions and Answers (AECC BLOCK – 02)
1. What according to Hollander should determine an English teacher’s choice of suitable reading for adolescents?
Answer – Adolescents generally like to read literature that packs high-octane emotion-gripping power. Stories and poems that knock them hard, be it with sorrow or joy, have a special appeal for them. Hollander is convinced that reading literature becomes a true learning exercise when the story sways the learners’ minds to extreme turmoil. Texts interspersed with poignant or euphoric highs or lows are ideal for learning literature because they guide the learners to learn new skills and new techniques of building a plot, or describing a scene. In a nutshell, the sentimental the story is, the more is its value as a text for Literature. Hollander is convinced about it.
2. How does Hollander argue the value of a literary education for the young?
Answer – Literary education is the most important pathway to higher learning, according to Hollander. It conditions the mind to understand and appreciate subjects like Philosophy, Psychology, Political Science etc. These subjects are replete with elevated levels of emotional thoughts. So, conditioning young mind to absorb the abstract thoughts involved in these subjects is best done by exposing the young students to emotional scenes and plots in literature books.
3. How does Hollander describe the fate of reading which is divorced from our personal lives and concerns?
Answer – Literature serves as a double edged sword that can either familiarize one with life as it is, or, make one delve into the world of fantasies and form the notion of untroubled incessant pleasure. Hollander understands well that every human is ought to face the adversities of life one day or the other. He is aware of the fact that life is not all sunshine and roses. He wants the budding minds to be armoured with diverse experiences and to not be paralyzed in the face anomalies waiting ahead. Literature divorced from our lives and concerns is good for nothing and Hollander, in a way, attempts to depict the intellectual paralysis it ends up inflicting on us.
4. What is the difference between teaching language through literature and teaching language as an abstract medium of communication?
Answer – Language is the thread that binds the human intellect with perception and allows one to weave his unique view of the world. That uniqueness in turn forms his identity. Language and abstractness are oxymorons. Language as merely an abstract medium of communication is stripped of its essence and only serves as a robotic transaction of lifeless words, various sets of rules that are to be memorized and utilized to obtain the products of desire. It is result oriented but devoid of anything truly meaningful. When literature serves as the medium, it attaches its depths of emotions, uniqueness of outlooks, blends of experiences and most importantly, exposure to the realities of life along with language learning. The distinction here is apparent. One rewards you truth and liberty whereas the other restricts you from that.
5. Why does Hollander want the English curriculum in school to follow the college English Curriculum?
Answer – The English curriculum in school is limited by design, partly by the desire to stay clear of any political intervention and partly by the dormant dread of exposing teens to radicality and the extremities of human emotions. Meanwhile, the college curriculum is free from any such restrictive attitude and prescribes the learners literature that is realist. Such literature can potentially serve as their entry point into several other fields of study and unexplored spheres of life. Hollander finds the contrast between the two curriculums absurd as one precedes the other and realism is the ultimate eventuality. Thus, he aspires to bridge the gap between them to enable the orientation to literature a fruitful endeavour for the teachers as well as the students.
6. Why does Hollander see de-emphasising literature in the school curriculum as a problem?
Answer – Hollander takes issue with literature taking a backseat as he internalizes how it serves as a roadblock for the students in literary exploration. By playing safe and nitpicking extremely basic and insignificant titles, the students are essentially made to form the preconception that literature is inherently boring and insignificant. Not giving literature its due importance robs the students of the exhilarating experiences of being in the shoes of the exemplary authors whose produces remain evergreen. Hollander, as a proponent of freedom, wants the formative minds to be exposed to authentic literature and have the liberty to explore life as they will with command over their emotional response to all adversities.
7. What are the uses of having emotion or feeling as an entry point into teaching literature?
Answer – Literature is one of the building blocks that form the cohesive whole of art. Art is inherently alive and emotion is the driving force of that liveliness. Art that is bland and devoid of any moving element ultimately fails to resonate with humans. By having emotion as an entry point, it can be ensured that the readers are genuinely initiated into the process of sucking out all the marrow of life using literature as a pathway. Literature that succeeds in evoking emotional responses will not be alien to the readers. That familiarity will allow them to effortlessly connect with the teachers and together, they can explore the depths of human experiences literature has to offer.