Showing posts from January, 2019

Giving Up Gatsby

For the past ten years, my sophomore English class has studied The Great Gatsby every fall. It's one of my favorite books and it typically--and quickly--became a favorite of about half my class, at least. I loved teaching it, but there was a doubt that niggled at the back of my mind: for a lot of my students, the book was just too hard. They could understand the story and produce incredible insights about human behavior and the American Dream, but they couldn't read the novel themselves. We would have to read large portions of the text out loud in class, and they'd need a healthy dose of guidance. And to be honest, that guidance often meant I was doing more mental work than they were. I love the book, but the truth was, I didn't love teaching it because deep down I knew that it wasn't good teaching.

So this year, to the shock of everyone in my department, I suggested giving up Gatsby.

I don't really let go of things easily. I keep the brochures from tourist sit…