Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Things do fall apart in class

My English II class is almost finished reading Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart.  I've enjoyed reading the book again and even enjoyed teaching it. However it's been a huge battle regardless of the students' reading levels.  Now that we are getting ready to write an essay based on the book, I'm really getting nervous. 
It's not that the writing is any more difficult; it's that the students don't like the book and are tired of it.  They've really struggled to get past the cultural confusion and have complained more about this one book than I think I've ever encountered.

I, on the other hand, have loved the book. Of course, it's my fourth reading, at least, and I have the advantage of having done some research and having a little higher reading ability.
I'd love the opportunity to read Arrow of God and Anthills of the Savannah.  Our priest is originally from the Ibo tribe of Nigeria and has told me that he prefers Anthills.  I wish I could express his excitement while we talked about Achebe, Nigeria and the book. 
 I am very happy to have the chance to speak to Father Ibe.  He has answered so many questions about Nigeria and helped me to understand the civility of some of the Ibo customs.  For example, he explained the idea of a bride price, or paying for the honor of marrying a girl.  The price is set not to show what the girl is worth, but to show how honored she is...thus, the higher the price, the more the honor.  

Explaining it to 15-year-olds has been a little difficult.  It's easy to understand a custom while Father is excitedly talking and animating the explanation.  Remembering and reiterating the answer while blank, bored faces are staring at me is not.  Ahh, if only Father would come and do the explaining and the animating.  He's tall and lanky so, when his arms start flying around and he's excited to the point of jumping up to show what he's trying to say, he's fun and loud and funny.  Add his first hand knowledge, and you have a spectacle. There's no doubt that he would get something more than the blank, bored stares.

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