Over the 19 years I’ve been teaching English, it was only in the past 6 years teaching AP Literature and Composition that I began to realize just how challenging it is to understand the complex endeavor of literary analysis.
Every year, I’d be disappointed with the vast majority of theme statements in students’ essays. If you teach English, you know the kind I mean: “Of Mice and Men is a book about the importance of friendship” or “The Great Gatsby shows the American Dream.” The students often just repeated ideas they’d heard in class without exploring their own ideas about the complexity of the text, and I finally figured out why. I was asking them to bite off way more than they could chew and needed to figure out a way to scaffold practice of the many skills necessary for independently analyzing a text. … KEEP READING