Reflections on English literature teaching in secondary high school.

  • Paola Della Valle Università degli Studi di Torino

Abstract

Reflections on English literature teaching in secondary high school. In Italian High Schools, literature in English is still often taught as the history of English literature, according to established tradition or convenience, although the Ministry of Education has given teachers ample freedom in the choice of texts, encouraging themes and genres close to students. The literary text most effectively contributes to improving the students’ knowledge of a foreign culture as well as their cultural awareness and critical abilities. A teacher course on the didactics of English literature must therefore help its participants to make the most of this extraordinary linguistic, cognitive and educative instrument, avoiding a reassuring but inefficient approach. My teaching experience in the TFA programme has pointed out that highly selected and linguistically proficient future teachers do not need to go through content again but should be freed from outdated teaching methods in favour of flexible and dynamic practices, including choice of appropriate and contextualised texts, interaction between text and reader, and connection of the text with the present and the students’ life. And the trainees may be surprised at the enormous possibilities of a faraway text such as Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

Author Biography

Paola Della Valle, Università degli Studi di Torino
Lecturer at the University of Torino. She taught English language and literature in High Schools for over 15 years. In 2013, she held the course “English Literature Teaching”, within the TFA programme. She is the author of two monographs, Stevenson nel Pacifico. Una lettura postcoloniale (Roma, 2013) and From Silence to Voice: the Rise of Maori Literature (Auckland, NZ, 2010). She has contributed to the volumes Contemporary Sites of Chaos in the Literary and Arts of the Postcolonial World (Roma, 2013) and Experiences of Freedom in Postcolonial Literatures and Cultures (London, 2011). Her articles appeared in “Le Simplegadi” (2014), “NZSA Bulletin of New Zealand Studies” (2010), “Il Castello di Elsinore” (2009), “The Journal of Commonwealth Literature” (2007), “Quaderni del ‘900” (2007) and “English Studies” (2007, 2006, 2005).

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Published
2014-06-30
Section
InCONTRI