The Looking Glass : New Perspectives on Children's Literature, Vol 17, No 2 (2014)

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Tortoise-Spanke-17-2

The Tortoise's Tale

"... we went to school in the sea. The Master was an old turtle-we used to call him Tortoise-"
"Why did you call him Tortoise, if he wasn't one?" Alice asked.
"We called him Tortoise, because he taught us, " said the Mock Turtle

Jill P. May, editor


Photomontage and Surrational Imagery: One Teacher’s Encounter with Scott Mutter

Jeff Spanke


Jeff Spanke is a doctoral student in English Education at Purdue University. After earning a Master's in American Studies, Jeff taught high school English in Crawfordsville, Indiana for several years. Currently he serves as a composition instructor at Purdue and is a research assistant in Purdue's Gifted Education Resource Institute. His personal research interests include adolescent critical literacy development, public pedagogy, and service-learning's intersections with the Language Arts classroom. His wife and he live in West Lafayette, Indiana along with their two year-old son and a bountiful squirrel population.


“The problems of life are much more like the problems encountered in the arts. They are problems that seldom have a single correct solution; they are problems that are often subtle, occasionally ambiguous, and sometimes dilemma-like. One would think that schools that wanted to prepare students for life would employ tasks and problems similar to those found outside of schools. This is hardly the case.”

-Elliot Eisner

“I'm a pilgrim on the edge, on the edge of my perception. We are travelers at the edge, we are always at the edge
of our perception.”

-Scott Mutter

 

REWIND:

The warning on the first page hooked me. While I had read books before—mostly just perused them for purposes of not failing in school, but sometimes read them for pleasure—this was certainly no ordinary book. Like the naïve but curious fish who never noticed the ominous metallic gleam emanating from the backend of an otherwise enticing afternoon snack, so too did the portentous forecast printed just inside the front cover lure me to this new line of fiction. If memory serves, it went something like this:

WARNING!!!!
Do not read this book straight through from beginning to end! These pages contain many different adventures you can go on in The Cave of Time. From time to time as you read along, you will be asked to make a choice. Your choice may lead to success or disaster!


The adventures you take are a result of your choice. You are responsible because you choose! After you make your choice, follow the instructions to see what happens next.


Remember—you cannot go back! Think carefully before you make a move! One mistake can be your last… or it may lead you to fame and fortune!
(Heller)

            And so I sat. And I read. And read. And read. I couldn’t swim away. Bus be damned, looks like mom’s picking me up. Something about the imperative nature of this new genre—this Choose Your Own Adventure in which the subject was both grammatically and literally mespoke to the third-grade version of myself: compelled me to, yes, choose how I would engage with this faded and seemingly undiscovered treasure. The unprecedented literary agency with which those inked pages imbued me echoed only the digitized equivalent of playing one of my cherished first-generation Nintendo games. While at home I could make Mario jump into any magical green pipe I wished, now I could literally change the course of my character’s fate through reading this book. The warning, thus, became less of an actual threat to my survival—as I can’t recall, in fact, ever actually fearing that the book would kill me—and began to function more as an axiom which governed my burgeoning literacy prowess. The books told me to choose, and so I would choose. After all, how often does a kid ever really get to choose anything, leastwise their own adventures?

FAST-FORWARD:

Nearly two decades later, I close the door to my classroom. The familiar yet jarring monotony of the ringing bell signifies the start of third period: 10th Grade World Literature. The first two classes of the day had gone off without a hitch. After all, it was testing time, so there wasn’t much for me to do aside from distribute the correct packet of vacant bubbles to the correct students. But this period was different; this period I was trying something new. This should be an adventure, I think to myself as I scan the empty hallways once more through the slim window of my classroom door.

The students commence their daily ritual of collectively asking if they can go to the bathroom, if I have a pencil, if I drive a truck, if my son can walk yet, if I watched the game last night, if I’m hungry, if I “heard,” and what we’re doing today: the latter, despite me having written the day’s agenda on the board in front of the classroom.  My polite smile seems to suffice in answering all the other questions. One student walks in late. I pretend not to notice. I’m sure he has a pass.

I walk to the projector, unsure of how my students will respond to my brand new lesson. Will they get this stuff? Will they like it? What if they hate it? What if I can’t teach it? What if my principal walks in and sees an English teacher looking at pictures in the dark? What if the projector doesn’t work? What if this whole thing doesn’t work? Does this meet the standards? Can I argue that it does? Would anyone buy it? Do I have a movie on standby? Would I need a permission slip to show it? Isn’t this a literature class?

PAUSE:

“Reading,” as argued by Freire and Macedo “does not consist merely of decoding the written word of language; rather, it is preceded by and intertwined with knowledge of the world” (29). Thus, as Freire would argue, before ever attempting to read the word, one must first read the world. Within the critical literacy framework, this world can manifest in local terms, global terms, or, as Kraidy suggests, “glocalized” terms. In other words, perhaps the most integral tenet of critical literacy is its pedagogical grounding in some sort of real-world setting: transcending the institutionalized confines of the school in order to tether itself to alternative, viable public sites of literary engagement.

As Larson and Marsh note, “important in this work is the emphasis on children as critical agents who bring to the classroom a wealth of critical insights on their world and who do not need to acquire a set of print-based literacy skills and knowledge before they can engage in critical literacy practices" (47).  As a child, perhaps the greatest appeal of the Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) genre rested in the seemingly eternal possibility to evade, traverse, and resist the structures and regulations typically imposed on readers through the conventions of literature. Reading these books—and by extension, crafting narratives specific to the particular reading experience—offered a unique and liberating process unbound by linearity and very much predicated on the assumption that I was the agent of my own fate. This coupling of literary agency with literacy ownership helps cultivate, what Bruner would call, a reader’s “landscape of consciousness:” a compelling notion given its geographic and topographic implications.

As a young teacher, while I would ultimately concede that I would probably never include the specific CYOA texts in my classroom—as, for whatever reason, their popularity declined near the end of the 1990s—I knew that I strove to cultivate an environment around, as Quintero posits, “the creation of new realities through the power of art and imagination,” as well as one that “has a definite role in creating a sense of place, a community” (138). In short, I wished to foster a critical literacy space in which students learn by doing, as opposed to limiting the scope of their education to simply doing what they learn. Implicit in this paradigm is the hope that students, through engagement with various texts as extensions of community, will develop a sense of critical consciousness—what Lysaker and Miller call "social imagination"—with which they will then bridge the gap between ideology and political awareness (Larson & Marsh). And, as investors both of and in their own literary capital, acquiring the skills necessary to navigate the discourse of narrative (Gee) should come naturally.

Dim the lights, here we go. Enter Scott Mutter.

PLAY:

They stare at the picture for a moment. This particular image, on the surface, is simple enough: a statue of knight standing in a field or glen, leaning on his sword and holding a shield. Some think it’s cool. Others don’t. Nobody says much. The conversation sounds something like this:

            “What do we see?” I ask. Still nothing.
            “A knight,” one student finally offers, after what seems like minutes of confused, silent deliberation.
            “Why would you say it’s a knight?” I wonder aloud.
            “He looks like one,” the same student replies.
            “Is it a real knight?” I prod. Silence. “Is it a real knight?” I ask again.
            “No, it’s a statue,” another student responds shakily.
            “Okay. What do we notice about this statue of a knight?” I ask.
            “He has a sword,” offers another student.
            “And a shield,” says another.
            “Do you notice anything about his shield?” I ask, thus officially beginning the day’s lesson.

We don’t get far before the conversation necessitates that I explain who Scott Mutter was as an artist, as well as the manners by which he conceived the purpose of his work. After noting that the shield seemed to be made of stained glass—an abstract metaphor given the fairly monolithic nature of the rest of the piece—I deliver a brief presentation on Mutter’s life, consisting of information I obtained mostly through the internet and various other miscellaneous bits of insight I could muster from the few art books I had at home: late Chicago artist, brilliant photographer, didn’t use Photoshop, inspired by Sergei Eisenstein’s notion of photographic montage (Becker). The present and regrettable lack of a comprehensive Mutter biography renders me in the futile position of having to stick with the basics, despite my pedagogical urge to teach this man with the same impassioned rigor with which I would illuminate Shakespeare.

            My first encounter with Scott Mutter's work is almost shamefully anticlimactic. I was a college student doing a little holiday shopping. I had limited funds and every intention of once again giving my mom a framed picture of myself for Christmas. I found Mutter's book at my local mall, one of three copies awkwardly displayed in a kiosk that was wedged between a shoe store and one of those loud places that sells glitter eye-shadow to ten year-olds. It was the kind of kiosk that's overstocked with anthropomorphized kitten calendars and novelty joke books. That's basically it. I saw Mutter's book conspicuously bobbing within a sea of lascivious cheerleader posters and miniature John Deer figurines, and I liked the cover. It hooked me. I opened the book, liked what was inside, and bought it. Then I went home, put it on my book shelf, and noticed that it single-handedly doubled my art collection. I never had any intention of using it in a classroom.

            Explaining why I chose Mutter over, say, the literally thousands of other talented and engaging contemporary artists is akin to explaining why I chose to dedicate my life to education; I'm just not sure there is one good reason. Sure, I could illuminate fellow passengers with various lengths of elevator speeches detailing my passion for language, my love of adolescent literacy, the thrill of witnessing those coveted “a-ha” moments, etc. And eventually the door would open, and we would leave, never knowing for sure if I was being genuine, but accepting my story because, hey, I seemed nice, and who doesn’t love those “a-ha” moments?

            But I suppose the truth is far more complex while altogether more simplistic. Almost obvious. I chose Mutter because, as a student myself, his work gave me the compelling opportunity to make sense out of the senseless; to find meaning in the inherently meaningless; to uncover bits of myself in images of things that can never exist and have never existed. Mutter didn’t come with an instruction book. He gave us no key, no map. His work serves not only to illustrate the imagination of a true artistic genius, but also to kindle  the best parts of all us who search for truth in abstraction. And the thing about Mutter, for me, was that the only challenge to that truth was myself. Every time I see a Mutter piece, I see something different. And this difference is refreshing. It’s a comfortable reminder that stability is an illusion, the recognition of which revitalizes us and anxiously prepares us for the unknown. Nowhere in Mutter’s art does he include the possibility for limitation or boundary. His work both emblematizes and transcends potential. Everything is fair game. And, as a teacher, I can think of no greater skill with which to equip students than the ability to encounter potential with creativity and curiosity. I think Scott Mutter would have wanted it that way.

As I describe photomontage to my students, my explanation isn’t necessarily as important as the underlying principle that by nature, a photomontage refers to the composition of a fictional work of art through assembling assorted individual pieces. Insofar as each of Mutter's montages functions as its own sign, they also reflect, what Chandler calls "an assemblage of signs," in that they are "constructed (and interpreted) with a reference to the conventions associated with a genre and in a particular medium of communication" (3). As Siegel and Rowe posit, as signs, photomontages never exist as containers of ready-made meanings; rather, meaning derives from an active engagement by and through a reader (204). Along these lines, for Mutter, "there are theoretical reasons why a montage works or is something. But you have to also understand and keep your mind open to the fact that what works, works. That's the bottom line." Mutter’s work, as we discuss, strove to represent a myriad of social conventions through the metaphor of montage. Examining what those social conventions were, and manipulating the manners by which he achieved this metaphor comprised our class itinerary over the next four days.

PAUSE:

With the exception of a few captions and the occasional poetic explication, Mutter’s art contain little or no words; yet they are nothing if not vast in their interpretative capacity. Inasmuch as they rely heavily on assembly, while also transcending notions of time and space, they exemplify the semiotic notion that, as signs, “many modes of representation are always in use at the same time” (Kress 38). As they open themselves for external analysis, so too do they offer a reader the most open form of text, unrestrained by linguistic confines.

In their research on engaging social imagination through wordless book reading, Lysaker and Miller “made the assumption that an open text would make it more feasible for the reader to engage with the voices of the text and promote a rich reader-text transaction” (6). Their project sought to potentially marry the process of “understanding text to the process of understanding people,” (5). In other words, the researchers discovered that removing the words from picture books, and having children relay stories based solely off their interpretations of the illustrations, invited the reader’s social imagination as a means to form a sense of appreciation for the other.

This research, as well as previous studies which suggest “that children’s understanding of stories provides them with important information about other people” (Lysaker & Miller 23), echoes, to a certain extent, the social-semiotic notions that signs (texts) do not have given meanings, but “instead have the potential to represent and generate meanings” (Siegel & Rowe 203). In other words, the lens through which my students viewed an image projected on a screen necessarily derived from each of their own unique experiences with similar images, similar screens, and similar classroom exercises. The word “knight," after all, is essentially nothing more than an arbitrary, yet socially-agreed upon composite of dead, finite symbols. Still, the same processes through which we make meaning from Mutter’s photographs allow us to also derive meaning from words. While my students didn't initially consider the image to be a statue of a knight, they certainly weren’t wrong in saying it was an actual knight; they were merely operating according to the representational principle of metaphor. In fact, what they saw wasn't even a statue of a knight but instead a projection of a statue: one representation of another representation. Nevertheless, seeing the projection of a statue of a knight activated the various schema (Anderson) with which they entered the classroom and prompted them to identify the image as something other than what it actually was. In the process, they became agents of their own meaning-making.

As we proceeded with the lesson and discussed the significance of the stained-glass shield, we not only further activated existing schema, but also began to acquire additional schemas (Anderson) which informed their perception of the photograph. What began as simply a group of students silently staring at a piece of synthetic material hanging from their English teacher’s ceiling, organically evolved into a cogent, rich discussion over the fragility of faith, mankind’s predisposition to violence, the isolating nature of conviction, and the dehumanization of war. My students shared personal memories of corrupt church leaders, jaded discharged soldiers, and even criminal acts of vandalism. A few talked of family travels abroad, some offered insightful anecdotes about the economic plights of local craftsmen, and several shared their perceptions of the current political climate. Many seemed to agree that faith and politics tend to govern much of American culture. In short, that day my students started to breathe life into the stone knight. I just smiled and nodded. This was their adventure, after all. But we were only just beginning.

PLAY:

After we deconstruct several of Mutter’s other pieces, identifying their distinct aesthetic components and ascribing to them various meanings, I notice that my students, per my instructions, have each filled pages with assorted thoughts, interpretations, and corresponding personal experiences. Their attention to the seemingly most minute and insignificant details of the respective images accentuate the degree to which they’ve already engaged with these disarmingly complex texts. Over the course of the period, I witness my students evolve from seeing “a guy in the water” (in a picture depicting a man walking through an ocean towards a giant escalator) to watching a “dark, faceless man, slowly walking away from the audience through a rough and dangerous-looking ocean.” Their descriptions of the images grow increasingly robust, consistently complicated by the ambiguity of Mutter’s composition. In the absence of certainty, these photographs seem to have ignited my students’ curiosity, and their papers reflect this. They’ve schematized their sheets.

When they arrive for class the next day, I announce that it is now time to write. Despite my perceived success of the previous day's analytic discussion, I know that given the literary nature of this course, I have an obligation to validate our newly-formed discourse by couching it within a Language Arts paradigm. In other words, now we need to get to work. I spend a few moments answering the proverbial So What question by bridging what was otherwise an enlightening class discussion into something more practical and applicable to the mission at hand: to teach these students how stories work, what counts as literature, and, as Siegel and Rowe suggest, not only “how texts mean,” but also “how to do things with texts in this new and communicative landscape” (202) that Scott Mutter’s work facilitates.

Having previously learned the traditional aspects of story—exposition, rising action, climax, dénouement/falling action, conclusion—my students approach this next task with a certain degree of apathetic familiarity. They know what to do, in other words, but I sense they would rather just talk about pictures again all day. They seem relieved, therefore, when I once again turn on the projector to reveal our image of the knight.

We spend the remainder of the period, as well as the ensuing class periods, immersed in assorted creative writing exercises. I have the students choose as many Mutter images from the previous day as they like to serve as various focal points for either one story or a series of stories they will create. While I choose not to make the connection between this activity and those CYOA books I used to read as a child, I detect a slight degree of student excitement as they begin to realize the unprecedented degree of control they have over this assignment. However, before they begin writing, I ask that they identify the respective plot points that will correspond to each photograph they choose. In other words, for example, before writing their story, I ask the students to indicate if the “knight picture” will serve as the climax, the exposition, the falling action, or any other identifiable component to their narratives. They need to document these decisions and submit them to me before they start. If they use more than one image, each needs to have a corresponding narrative function prior to starting the writing. I explain that they have the remainder of the period to construct their stories and that, of course, they may use their notes from the previous class. After I respond to the sporadic pleas for clarification, I put on some soft instrumental music, and start to bask in the sweet sounds of adolescent creativity.

PAUSE:

At this time, I feel I must offer a warning of my own.

There's nothing in the following pages that proves this activity worked. I've included no charts or student writing samples. I've offered no testimonials or performance evaluations. I calculated no z-scores, p-scores, t-scores, r-scores, or eye sores. I gave no test. I have no results. At least none that are indisputable. I awarded no certificates, nor patented any new pedagogical method. I saved no one that I know of. I won no prizes and delivered no speeches attesting to the success of "The Mutter Method," as I would surely call it if I were famous: maybe "Mutterizing" if I were really famous and had the luxury of making up words for money.

But I'm not famous. And I'm not rich. And as a Language Arts teacher, the word "prove" makes me itchy.

Proof leaves no room for ambiguity. It discounts all discussion, doubt, dissention, and dreams. It kills the capacity for creativity and reduces those who strive for transcendence to intellectual mockery. Proof infantilizes innocence. It negates the potential for potential and strips students of their agency to thrive tangentially. Proof eliminates margins. Proof invalidates art. It is the shield of my livelihood. This activity proved nothing.

But it taught me a lot.

As Gee argues, when teachers immerse children in experience and subsequently marry their world to a given series of texts, the process by which they acquire language, despite the complexity of the linguistic system, becomes easier. This explains why, according to Gee, children latch so tightly to the seemingly complex language structures of video games; they situate themselves in the meaning-making process through their cultivation of choice and power. By contrast, sheer exposure to text without proper stationing complicates the acquisition process. This may explain why simply giving a child a dictionary as a means to teach him the definition of a foreign word risks diminishing the inclination to either proceed with the task or remember the definition even if he does look up the word. Since students deal with and master complicated language structures in other, more extracurricular aspects of their lives, the key, as Gee would suggest, rests in the notion of “situated meaning,” wherein students engage with the images, actions, and activities of a particular discourse. Akin to the CYOAs of 90s lore, instilling in children a sense of agency and investment allows them to more organically and productively grapple with concepts that would otherwise fall short of comprehension. If students already have an aversion to texts or literacy concepts, using texts to explain other texts risks perpetuating the students' allergy to learning. However, offering experiences with which the students can engage and in which they can invest their imagination may offer a means to achieve growth and learning.

I can’t necessarily say that I know more about my students after this activity. I only know what my senses tell me. But what I saw definitely changed the way I approached the creation of agency in my classroom. I watched students who had never shown the slightest interest in other class texts feverishly pen stories reflecting their perception of the Mutter images. Students conferenced, joked, discussed, work-shopped, and helped each other deconstruct the essence of narrative. A few of my more artistically-inclined pupils even illustrated theirs and others students' stories, filling the visual gaps of their narratives where the Mutter photographs fell short.

What I heard over these next few days encouraged me as well. Throughout the course of the exercise, students began to argue over what, exactly, a climax was, for instance, as well as the most effective means to maximize its effect. They would consult class notes, refer to movies they’d seen or shows they’ve watched—they would gather at my desk and engage in conceptual discussions over how and why certain stories operated the way they did. These young citizens debated the importance of rising action as it pertains to the climax, and several students clarified the function of the exposition. Sophisticated notions of plot continuity, character conflict, comedic timing, and semantic craft begin to pepper the ensuing collaboration. Students were teaching themselves how stories worked by examining the means through which they each appropriated Mutter’s pictures. And, since these images were compositions in themselves, each student approached their narrative creations with a wealth of experiences and resources from which they could spring into their own adventures. What the stone knight meant for one student meant something entirely different for another. The stained-glass shield served as the primary mechanism of one student’s plot, but went virtually silenced other stories. Some used certain photographs as the conclusion, while others employed them as their climax. They were choosing their own adventures.

FAST-FORWARD:

I brought Scott Mutter’s work into my classroom during my first year as a high school English teacher. Neither he, nor his work ever left. Still, as the days turned to months, and weeks to semesters, the pleas for “more pictures” gradually banished into obscurity alongside Mutter himself and those faded and seemingly undiscovered literary treasures from my past. But the essence of Mutter always remained a cornerstone to my teaching philosophy. A few years later, as a college composition instructor, I still incorporate his montages in my classroom; though, admittedly with a slightly firmer grounding in composition theory and a much more refined focus on the philosophical tradition of montage. Sadly, few, if any of my college students have ever heard of Scott Mutter, though they certainly seem to enjoy discussing the meaning of the stained-glass shield and the man by the escalators.

My high school students knew that we couldn’t look at pictures every day. And we couldn’t write short stories either. We had tests to take, units to cover, other texts to read, and pep rallies to attend. But something about the experience of writing stories based entirely on abstract composites with which my students could, in some capacity, relate seemed to result in my trash-cans being a little less full than on days after I returned their vocabulary quizzes. An unfamiliar but intriguing sense of student pride emerged from their ownership of these stories, as evidenced by the lack of clutter with which the casual discarding of graded papers often left me. Through framing an activity in such a way as to privilege creativity over quality, my students responded by crafting narratives that resoundingly achieved both. And they seemed to know it too. They deserved to be proud of their stories.

It’s important to note, though, that not everyone succeeded in the task. Some didn’t complete their stories, much to their lethargic chagrin. Others didn’t try. Yet while most responded to the week’s activity with unprecedented enthusiasm and curiosity, the fact that a few students refused to so doesn’t bother me as much as one might think. Sure, I wish everyone would have tried and succeeded, thus legitimizing the lesson and getting me one step closer to capitalizing off the “Mutter Method.” Yet the solace I take in these few outliers stems from what I recall noticing when I asked these students for their assignments. Yes, they all submitted incomplete projects insofar as their gaping narrative dearth. But all of their papers were filled with notes and ideas ranging from theories of Mutter’s meaning, to their own experiences with the matters discussed in class. They all had been engaged. They had all been on board. And something about the liberating exercise of unbound expression prompted even the most reticent students to, at the very least, get something on paper. Granted, they chose not to complete the assignment. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have adventures to share. I only hope someday they’ll have the access and privilege to do so.

STOP:

It didn’t take long to figure out those CYOA books weren’t that good. In fact, some of them were pretty bad. But I’m not sure it ever really mattered. As a kid, the chance to choose my own adventure eclipsed the quality of the writing, for it ultimately provided an opportunity to read in a way that I’d never read before. Granted, my choices were always a binary—leave the cave or stay in the cave—and sometimes my decision resulted in my quick and anticlimactic demise—you’ve left the cave and are eaten by bear. The end—but these stories ushered in an awareness and appreciation for alterity: a thirst for something different, something new. Of potential for otherness and the meaning therein. As I grew older and continued to augment my education through reading additional facets of my world, I realized that extending this awareness of difference invited an equally passionate examination of the causes of difference: arousing questions typically marginalized in conventional institutional discourse. Why are there poor people? What is whiteness? Why are there rape jokes? Why do people laugh at them? Is our world heated? Why did the towers fall? I know why, but why? Is faith good? How do I help sick people? Should I help sick people? Who helps sick people? What about the others?

Perhaps one of the reasons Scott Mutter seemed to resonate so well with my students is that, like his images, they too are composites: each one an illusion of sameness crafted through the careful assembly of various complex components into a single work of art. Perhaps they saw themselves in his montages: the stone knight in the empty glen or the faceless figure navigating the unforgiving waters of a turbulent adolescence, all the while approaching a system of perpetual of peaks and valleys that seems all too daunting to scale. Perhaps; but I’m not sure it ever really mattered.

They say the last thing a fish would ever notice is water: that our natural default setting renders all of us, in some capacity, under the false impression that we are the center of the universe. This, of course, means that by nature, we deify that which confirms or conforms to our particular glorified view of the world, and by extension effortlessly dismiss that which challenges, resists, troubles, or otherwise messes with the way we prefer things. And of course, this is a mistake. In privileging our own perspective over others, we ignore the possibilities for disgust and discomfort, for they offer no respite from the banalities of our own lives. In short, by ignoring the gross inequalities of the world, we ignore the entire world. We’re fish unaware of the water in which we live.

In the end, perhaps, it all goes back to the hook. For me, this hook took the form of a warning in a book that told me to choose. For my students, it was a stained-glass shield. Whatever it is, we have a moral duty to hook our students: safely carving a fresh harbor of cognizance through which they can investigate our deliberate disruption of and subsequent submersion in a world they've always just accepted. Our hooks give them nourishment, welcome struggle, and offer enough slack to stay alive. Yes, our students' efforts to deviate may compromise the integrity of our otherwise firm grasp. But as they thirst for independence, Wallace reminds us that "the really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day."

So then one day, after hooking them and transcending the complacency of their world, perhaps we cut the line and let them go.

 

Works cited:

Anderson, Richard C. "Role of the Reader’s Schema in Comprehension, Learning, and Memory. From Anderson, R.C., Osborn, J., & Tierney R.J. (Eds.) Learning to Read in American Schools: Basal Readers and Content Texts. (pp. 243-257). London: Routledge .1984. Print.

Becker, Lutz. Cut & Paste: European Photomontage 1920 – 1945. Italy: Gangemi Editore. 2011. Print.

Bruner, Jerome. Actual Minds, Possible Worlds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 1986. Print.

Chandler, Daniel. Semiotics: The Basics. London: Routledge. 2002. Print.

Mutter, Scott. Surrational Images: PHOTOMONTAGES. Chicago, Illinois: University of Illinois Press. 1992. Print.

Freire, Paolo & Macedo, Donaldo. Literacy: Reading the Word and the World. London: Bergin & Garvey. 1987. Print.

Gee, James Paul. Social Linguistics and Literacies: Ideology in Discourses (2nd ed.). London: Tayor & Francis. 1996. Print. Print.

Gee, James Paul. "Surmise the Possibilities: Portal to a Game-based Theory of Learning for the 21st Century." Arizona State University. 2009. Print.

Heller, Jason. "Does your Beloved Choose Your Own Adventure Series Still Thrill?" A.V. Club. http://www.avclub.com/article/does-the-beloved-ichoose-your-own-adventurei-serie-90411. Jan.13, 2013. Web.

Kraidy, M.M. (1999).The Global, the Local, and the Hybrid: A Native Ethnography of Glocalization. Critical Studies in Mass Communication 16(4): 456-476. Print.

Kress, Gunther. Before Writing: Rethinking the Paths to Literacy. ­18-43. London: Routledge. 1997. Print.

Larson, Joanne & Marsh, Jackie. Making Literacy Real: Theories and Practices for Learning and Teaching. 40-67. London: Sage. 2005. Print.

Lysaker, Judith & Miller, Anegla. "Engaging Social Imagination: The Developmental Work of Wordless Books." Journal of Early Childhood Literacy. 0.00 (2009): 1-28. Print.

Quintero, Elizabeth P. Critical literacy in early childhood education: Artful story and the integrated curriculum. 135-159. New York: Peter Lang. 2009. Print.

Siegel, Marjorie & Rowe, Deborah W. "Webs of Significance." In Diane Lapp and Douglas Fisher (Eds.) Handbook of research on the teaching of English language arts (3rd ed.) 202-207. London: Routledge. 2011. Print.

Wallace, David F. Transcription of the 2005 Kenyon Commencement Address. Written and delivered by David Foster Wallace, May 21, 2005. http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~drkelly/DFWKenyonAddress2005.pdf. Feb.11, 2014. Web

 

 

Jeff Spanke


Volume 17, Issue 2, The Looking Glass, March/April 2014

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"Photomontage and Surrational Imagery:One Teacher’s Encounter with Scott Mutter" © Jeff Spanke, 2014.
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The Looking Glass: new perspectives on children's literature

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