Getting on Course

As I wrote a few weeks ago in a post on teaching literature and teaching reading, I will be asking my students to learn a little differently this fall, to learn without essays, without exams, without traditional lectures, even without mandatory texts.  Instead, they will be going with me to a used bookstore, where they will buy five books of their own choosing.  They will then be responsible to read these texts and to blog their responses to this reading on their own blogs, which will all be aggregated with the class blog into a blog planet.  In order to provide a model of what this kind of reading and writing might look like, I will be reading and writing along with my students in exactly the ways that I am asking of them, but I would like them to have many such models, to see the many approaches that skilled and interested readers might bring to a text.

So, I am extending an invitation to you, whoever you may be, to read and write along with us this fall.   You may do so very simply.  You need only to read what you would be reading in any case, without even the very rudimentary guidelines that I have set for my students, and then to blog about what your reading inspires in you, whenever and however often you feel so inspired.  Just create a category for your responses, something like Literature or Reading or whatever, and then send me the RSS feed for the category so that I can include it in the blog planet.   Of course, if this seems like too much commitment, you can also participate just by adding the blog planet to your reader and commenting on the posts that interest you.

If you want, you can even accompany us on our trip to the bookstore, for which I will post details shortly, or you can join us for our open discussions, which will be held during two or three of our classes this semester.  I will also be asking some of you personally to make guest appearances in our class discussions, and if you would like to participate in some way that I have not yet imagined, just let me know.  I am willing to explore anything that might make the learning process more open and more accessible.

My hope, in this invitation, in you, in your participation, is that it will produce precisely this openness and this accessibility.  I want to turn the focus of the learning process away from the requirements of the institution and toward the passions and the disciplines of reading and writing in the world, a reading and writing that you and I produce every day.  I want my students to find themselves engaged with people who read and write, not because they have something due tomorrow, but because they find something valuable in the very acts of reading and writing.  I want them, not merely to join a class for a semester, but to join a community of readers for life.

If you are at all interested in being involved with this project in any way, please let me know just leave a comment here or email me at

Note:  This post has been changed several times to reflect some technical changes that I have been forced to make.

  1. Curtis said:

    OOO, OOO, OOO, pick me,pick me, very interested.

    As for the bookstore, since, if I am correct you’re doing this at EBC, might I recommend the KW Bookstore, Casablanca books, and the shop In Orbit, all of which are a two minute walk from one another in Down town Kitchener, on King street.

  2. Curtis,

    Thanks for the recommendations. I will actually be taking them to Old Goat Books, but I will see about the others as well.

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