Class Discussion Gardens Growth

Humbert Humbert and Lolita

Humbert Humbert and Lolita

Last week I posed a question to my Globe University Introduction to Literature students.  After viewing the film, Lolita do you feel for Humbert Humbert? Is Lolita the victim and Humbert Humbert the villain?
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Out of nine students, only one said that she felt for Humbert Humbert; however, the majority of the students believed that Lolita was no victim.  What did I then ask them?—“Why and how did you make this choice?”
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In-depth discussions are just that simple to plant.  Ask a student to tell you “why” without blocking off the room with discussion boarders and they will surprise you and even themselves as they share ideas.
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Last week Brady Lowe, Community Relations Specialist at Globe-La Crosse, wrote a blog titled “Top 6 Reasons Small Class Sizes Work!” and Jeff Trotnic, Criminal Justice Instructor, noted that there is an enhancement in classroom participation.  I agree with Jeff.  Students feed-off each other when it comes to verbal communication, and as an instructor, I don’t get to reap the benefits but observe them as they take over the class and start to till their own garden.
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My Introduction to Literature students, from all different programs (Paralegal, Medical Assisting, Business, Information Technology, etc.), pulled out examples from Lolita in forms of sound, lighting, and mise-en-scène to back up their cases on “why,” while I got to see them learn through one another.  With such a small class, they were open to each other’s ideas, thoughts, and at times outlandish observations. No comment is wrong or silly in my classroom; they are opinions.  They smiled, laughed, and said, more than once, “I didn’t think of that until you said it. . . . Oh, I see now. . . . I missed that. . . .” And, my favorite, “Wow! Good job!”  Yes, they complimented each other.
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Lolita is not an easy book to read or film to watch.  It is beyond gritty and dark.  It dives into the inner psyche of someone that society deems as inhuman.
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Did my students see beyond the inhumanness that the story portrays when a grown man falls in love with a 12 year old emotionally and sexually?  Yes, they noticed themes of “love and age,” “want verses need,” “obsession, infatuation, and death,” and “morality verses the heart.”
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A student’s point of view can take growth through small classroom discussions if the instructor just gives them the tools to do so.  I give my students only the necessities: a bit of dirt, a shovel, and perhaps a full watering can if the well gets dry.  The true work is up to them.
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My Introduction to Literature students worked hard this week.




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