The reading is titled: Louise Rosenblatt: A Voice That Would Not Be Silenced by Carol Hosenfield and it appeared in Expanding Our Vision Toronto: Oxford UP 1999.
This is my intorduction to Rosenblatt's theories on reading and I must say I was impressed. Her views really resonated with me. Her theories confirmend my suspicions on how to conduct my class in specific scenarios and she has really given me some food for thought on how to conduct reading expereiences. Let me explain.
Rosenblatt presents a "transactional theory of reading," basically her theory views reading any text, expository and literary, as a "transaction" among the reader, the text and the meaning. She believes that meaning does not reside in a text, but results when a specific reader, at a specific time, and in a specific place "transacts" with a text and in doing so gives birth to its meaning for that reader, at that time and in that place (p 113). I really like this theory. I believe that what Rosenblatt is saying is true. Every time we interact with a text we bring a different part of ourselves to that text. One day we may have had a lot of sleep, had a great morning, kissed the hubby good day and the kids didn't fight on the drive to school. That day the text will hold different meaning then on the day we burnt our toast and were late for work. Our students bring a different self to school every day. It is our job as an educator to be tuned into this and elicit responses that are in tune with their experiences and not how I feel the text should be interpreted.
Rosenblatt stresses "the quality of the actual reading experiences" (p 116). As a teacher, I need to seek out texts that allow my students to have high quality reading experiences. This means that the text must contain themes and characters that reflect where they are in their life, issues that are important to my students in this moment. Following this thread, it is my job to be cognizant of what my students are reading. I have read all of the Twilight books; because I noticed a student who was not normally engaged in books devour the series. I was able to engage this reluctant reader in conversation and share in her excitement of the characters and stories. And for what it is worth, I am on Team Jacob. Rosenblatt says, "to attempt to ignore these student reactions would destroy the very basis upon which any great literary sensitivity could be built" (p 117).
I really like how she suggested we question our students. She believes we need to frame our questions to "foster framing their responses more closely to what they actually lived through" (p 118). Some of the open-ended questions she suggests are; What do you think is worth talking about when we talk about this story? How did you interpret the story? What in this story is meaningful to you? (LOVE that one!) What question do you have about this story for which there are no answers? (p 118).
I feel Rosenblatt's theories are worth considering. I want to be the teacher that fosters independent thought in my students. I want them to contribute their thoughts and views on a topic and I would love to have a discussion on texts we get to share. Each child will have something unique to offer and I look forward to my students teaching me something about them when they share.