Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Yellow Wallpaper


I tried something with my fourth block College Comp class that I’ve always been meaning to try. I assigned “The Yellow Wallpaper” as homework. I also gave each student some reader response starters to aid in their comprehension.

Of course, I know this class is not the most ambitious, so I also devised a quiz. And as I expected, two of the students completed the assignment. A few had it half complete and a few others had absolutely nothing done.

For the quiz I decided to put at the end of the directions that if they read the directions thoroughly, they could skip all of the multiple choice questions and just answer the two essay questions on back.

So far I’m 8 for 8 in not having a student notice that.

It just amazes me that for a supposed college level class, where we are supposed to get the best and brightest, that they still fail to do a measly homework assignment.

And we wonder why we rank 25th in the world in education scores (and India and China aren’t on that list). It’s the apathy that has always been present in our society (or any society for that matter) but the apathy has become more popular. It’s become the cool think to brag about how little you do or how you did nothing to earn an A.

That’s why reports like “A Nation at Risk” ( and “A Democracy at Risk” ( are so worrisome.


Wonders never cease. I was irritated about their lack of motivation. But they’re are kicking ass now.

I decided to listen to a version of the story. While they are doing that, they are keeping a reading journal where they chronicle what new things they notice on this second reading (or initial reading for many).

Already we had an interesting interpretation. In fact, it was a postmodern interpretation - the narrator is not in a house at all. Instead she is confined in a mental institution. John is just an orderly as is his sister.

This keeps with such movies as Identity or Fight Club.

Great interpretation. I don’t agree with it, but the original thinking and examples some are coming up with are the real important thing.

Others think she is just nuts. I’m waiting to see if any tackle the feminism perspective.

We just discussed how she appears to be returning to a childlike state. Maybe, one student said, she isn’t going nuts. Instead, maybe she is just regressing to a child like state. After all, the room used to be a nursery. She talks about the strange wallpaper in a child like way, even mentioning that she had quite an overactive imagination as a child. Then she gets worked up and John has to carry her to bed and read to her until she falls asleep. Just like a child.

I’m just trying to stay out of their way.

Now the students are really starting to stockpile the evidence for their postmodern theory that she is really in an asylum.

One student wants to know why the author “uses the word ‘creep’ about a hundred times.”

I love.

Again, wonders never cease.

I think I’m going to find a copy of The Truman Show to watch and compare next week. Of course, that is the story of a man named Truman who is the subject of a reality TV show, only he thinks it is really his real life. The bulk of the movie is Truman’s awakening to his manipulated ‘reality.’

I think it would tie in quite well. I’d love to show Fight Club or Identity, but I think there are some questionable scenes in those films. Plus, The Truman Show, for a Jim Carey film, is pretty obscure. Hopefully, they won’t be familiar with it.

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