For some the purpose behind this blog might be obvious, and for others not so much. So today let’s discuss what exactly the purpose is behind this blog. To help you understand the purpose of this blog and why I am here doing this, I’d like to tell you a story — specifically my story.
When I was younger there were two things that I was terrible at: sports and school. And when your skills are lacking in both of these fields you end up limiting yourself a little when it comes to deciding what you want to do with your life. So when I was younger my career dreams consisted of being a princess, and really nothing else. Because there wasn’t anything else that I felt I was good enough at or enjoyed enough to consider pursuing a career with it. Granted I was still in the age of middle school years, so obviously I still had a lot of time. But you know most tend to leave the dream age of princess when they’re in middle school, so you can understand why I was a little worried.
One thing that I had always loved was reading, so obviously if I could have just had a career of reading and getting paid for it I would have followed that in a heartbeat. But there’s not, unless you want to be an editor or publisher but I lacked the necessary grammar skills. So back at square one with the princess goal. Until 2005 happened.
One day my grandmother pulled my sister and me out of school early to take us to see the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice starring Kiera Knightly and Matthew Macfayden. I left that theater in love with a culture, language, and story that held me captivated from beginning to end. And from there my love and obsession for Jane Austen and her work grew. That same month I purchased the book and read it, followed by the rest of her works. I hunted down as many film adaptations as I could along the way and from there I became a Jane Austen fanatic. Since then, my love and devotion to Jane Austen and classical British literature has grown.
I went to two different schools for high school, and at both I never had a teacher discuss Jane Austen, and really little to nothing when it came to the British literature classics. Which saddened me. I was surrounded by students who had no idea, or cared very little about my favorite author, and teachers who seemed to assume that she was an author of little to zero importance. This disappointment resulted in my decision to become a teacher. Current generations miss the value and importance of literature, especially anything that wasn’t published in the 2000’s. So what better way to start showing students the value again in literature, than teaching in the classrooms where I can daily share my love and passion with others?
So now that you understand my very long, and hopefully not boring or tedious, story about WHY I’m a little obsessed about Jane Austen, how it started, and how this resulted in becoming a teacher, let’s now go back to the point of this reading: why create the blog?
We live in a culture that focuses more on our Facebook statuses than what’s going on in the life right in front of us. We worry more about responding as quickly as we can to a text message than we do on saying the right thing and listening to those who stand right next to us talking and sharing their life stories. And we would rather spend hours watching cat videos and vlogs on YouTube than sit in a corner and read a chapter in a book. These needs and addictions make it difficult to work with those who keep their nose in their phone 24/7. Especially with teacher student relationships.
For teachers, I feel most of us simply try to fully stomp the digital era out of the classroom. We think: well if I force them to read and take notes and stay off their phones, they might moan and groan but they WILL learn and they WILL like my class — with time. But in reality this doesn’t work. We can’t simply stomp the digital era out of the current generation. But what we can do is work with it, integrating the digital era into the current classroom in ways that benefit us, the teachers.
Now I’m not saying this means we bend our will and ways to our students fully: letting them stay on their phones in the classroom as long as they want and watching YouTube summaries and film adaptations instead of reading the actual book is NOT the answer. But if we create lessons, activities, group work, etc. around digital tools that we can use in the classroom, I believe, that we as teachers can overcome that road block of successfully teaching our students something while making it engaging and entertaining for them.
So with this in mind, I created a blog. With the focus being to introduce and explain different digital tools that teachers could us in the classroom. These tools and activities are geared with high school students in mind, but in reality they could work for any age group. Obviously some of them are a little more complex, so you would need to edit around your student’s needs. And this is not only for the Jane Austen enthusiast teacher. If you’re obsessed with Charles Dickens, work it around that lesson plan. Or maybe you’re teaching American Literature instead of British Literature. That’s fine too. These tools are NOT meant only for the Jane Austen novels or British Literature classroom. My focus is placed upon Jane Austen because she is my obsession, and thus when creating the sample tools necessary to help YOU understand the process, it is easier for me to create examples using stories and characters that I love and know well.
I hope that with time this blog grows and I continue to build with it. Perhaps it will expand with different teaching ideas, or even working other novels into the examples I provide. There’s no promise that everything I introduce requires using a digital tool. Because using digital tools in the classroom does not mean we have to use them 24/7. Maybe I will add other posts here. Possibly we will work some silly Jane Austen rants, reviews of films and novels that are retellings of Jane Austen’s work. There are a lot of maybes and possibilities when it comes to where this blog will take me as the author, and you as the readers. But for now this is a work in progress, of me sharing my love and passion of Jane Austen and teaching with you.
I hope that this will ignite something in you, whether you are a teacher, student, parent, or simply a British literature enthusiast. Wherever you are on your path I hope this inspires you in some way to share your passions with others. We live in a world now that encourages sharing in ways that are not possible through simple face to face discussion. So even though sometimes we wish we didn’t have the cell phones, laptops, and wifi, maybe sometimes instead of regretting and resenting what we have we should learn from it and use it to meet OUR needs and passions.
Till next time…