19th Century Russian Literature


Musings on How We Best Learn Literature.

A recent student survey indicates that Midd students have lots of practice in reading and writing. But far less in presenting and defending their ideas orally. How can we/should we move to integrate more of you to encourage and enhance learning in our course on Russian literature?


  1. February 22nd, 2009 | 9:42 am

    I think the smaller class size will help a lot with this.

    Also, I thought that the debate class inspired much more productive and conclusive discussion than we have ever had in class. I think this was less because of the competitive atmosphere, and more because everyone was listening to eachother, taking notes, and preparing points before they spoke. As students, we should try to transfer these habits into our normal class discussions.

    I also think we have the bad habit of speaking too much without really saying anything. It seems that we often back up our arguments with flowery words while failing to give any concise arguments. But maybe this is just because there are 26 of us all eager to speak .

  2. Ashley Quisol
    February 22nd, 2009 | 3:32 pm

    I agree with the idea of having smaller classes. This way, we would be able to have a better discussion rather than a string of comments about the story. Perhaps this wouldn’t work so much for the weeks that we are reading more than one story, but once we begin to read books, meeting once a week would be advantageous because we would be able to delve deeper into the analyses without having to switch gears and turn our attention to another story.

  3. Catherine Ahearn
    February 22nd, 2009 | 9:12 pm

    The results of the study do not come as a surprise and I think they could probably be generalized to include students at other schools as well. Each night Middlebury students have piles of reading to do and some sort of writing assignment (like the blog) and least once a week. There is a much smaller forum in which students can express and defend their opinions because of class sizes and time restraints. Classes can only last so long and most of the time do not leave adequate time for everyone to express themselves clearly and accurately (or even at all).
    I agree with the idea of making our class smaller by meeting once a week because I think it will eliminate this issue. Some people also have a hard time thinking on the spot and remembering each of their points regarding a story or concept. I think that the blog serves as a place where students can write their opinions down before hand and, in a way, already be prepared with their thoughts already formulated.

  4. Natalie Komrovsky
    February 23rd, 2009 | 4:17 pm

    I think the blog is a great idea, and also just having questions and other points of view to consider when coming in to class. I find discussions and debates to be helpful. I don’t think formal presentations would be as beneficial as just having an in class discussion.

    Also, smaller classes would be ideal. But if we still want to meet twice a week, maybe we could have one group go from 11-12 and the next group go from 12-1 (if there are people that don’t have a class directly after this one). Just a thought.

  5. Casey Mahoney
    February 23rd, 2009 | 7:45 pm

    I don’t have anything new to say– I agree with the halved class size, and I think that will help with the ease we’ll be able to discuss, debate, and present orally.

    …just to throw my two cents in.

  6. Lisa Eppich
    February 23rd, 2009 | 9:14 pm

    I also agree, halving the class would be really beneficial to everyone. The things we’ve done so far have been interesting, but all in all I don’t think it allowed us to really cover the stories in the way they deserve, and as we get into the larger works this will only get more and more problematic. At the end of the day, I think it matters most that we all walk away from this knowing and discussing as much about this literature as possible, and this class size just won’t really allow that no matter what we do if we keep the group together, and the new schedule you came up with looks like it would allow us to still cover everything in the syllabus even if we split up. The blog an still serve as a means to keep the two halves in touch with each other and serve as the “group discussion,” and maybe at the end of each book we can come together as a full class for a final discussion of the work, or something like that.

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