Teacherpants has spawned a blog within a blog, called somewhat unoriginally The blog within a blog*. It’s a reading journal on the French Canadian autobiographical novel Mãn by Kim Thuy. I’ll be reading it in the original French. I’m guessing that my reading level in the language is comparable with theirs in English.
The idea is to keep pace with my students as they read their book club books in English. I will observe my reading process and post my observations; I will attempt to draw connections between what I am experiencing as I read and the challenges the students face. As I conduct this voyage of self-exploration, I hope to open channels of communication with my students, and perhaps provide useful material to my colleagues who are studying the book club phenomenon. Or not. Perhaps it will be a hopeless pastiche of humblebrag and navel gazing. At this moment, I’d say it could go either way.
The task imposes some fairly strict writing guidelines:
- to keep it simple without appearing condescending
- to add enough detail to make it relevant without boring them to tears with analyses of French clause structure
- to personalize it enough to make it relatable** without devolving into overshare
It feels strange to be so self-conscious about my reading. I worry that I will run out of observations and end up with “I read Chapter 5 this week. It was hard, but I looked up the hard words in the dictionary, and now I understand it better,” thereby conclusively proving to the students that reading is indeed supremely boring. At the same time, I’m resisting imposing themes too early. I kind of know I want to talk about tone, and about the temptation of translations, but I feel the topics will come up in due time. Right now, I need to relax and just read.
UPDATE: My supervisor has shared the link with the students and in the space of one day I have 60 views (out of 160ish students). It’s on! (I don’t know how many will be there for the second installment, though.)
* I kind of wanted Matryoshka, but it was taken; plus, that would have been, I don’t know, appropriation of voice or something.
** I know, I know, probably you hate “relatable” but I’m owning it. There is no word that works exactly the same way. By that token, in my books, it counts as legit.