Monday, 9 July 2018

Mystery and teaching

Mystery and Melancholy Giorgio de Chirico

Ideally, to stimulate and hold the students’ interest you need a touch of suspense and a balanced mix of science and art. It is not every day that I can strike gold in this endeavour, but from time to time I come across some promising material such as a recent item entitled How we Found Three Poisonous Books in our Library on Conversation.
You could introduce your topic by writing down
books                                    poison                         colour
and then asking the students to think of any possible ways to link the ideas. The speculation would enhance the mystery around the forthcoming text.

To test some fine points in syntax I turned some extracts from the text into a transformation exercise, which the students had to do before they read the text. They then confirmed their answers while they read the text.

I also gave them a vocabulary exercise to do in order to practise the new words.

However, I often get this niggling feeling that the students are not quite active in learning when they simply perform tasks, but on the other hand I am aware of the fact that because they are young they need some guidance in order to become independent learners.

To this end, I searched on the internet for some related topics and came up with the following:

The mystery of Caravaggio's death solved at last – painting killed him, The Guardian

Oil paints that could kill: did Albrecht and Margret Durer poison their customers with their paintings? Part I, By Dr. Elizabeth Garner and Joe Kiernan

Next, I devised some kind of framework within which the students can prepare an oral presentation of each text and assigned each to pairs of students. They had to meet up outside school and work together on their presentation. I was pleasantly surprised by how well they accomplished the task and how many questions arose out of doing this independently.
I provide the copies of the Student’s handouts here:
(Some Greek equivalents are given by way of explanation for some lexical items. I am all for such shortcuts when it comes to technical terms or words which it would take too long to explain.)

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