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Monday, February 8, 2010

discovering the hidden “pearls” in “The Pearl”



I truly enjoy teaching my form 5 tuition students “The Pearl” ,a novel by John Steinbeck and it’s an amazing experience for me. At first most of my students who attended my class did not like literature, especially the novel. It was a challenge for me but I accepted it as God’s test for me. I tried to look through the rose tinted glasses, and I put more effort to bring the life to the literature lesson. I wrote a brief synopsis and concise summaries of the six chapters of the novel for my students to read .Then I told my students that we can never love this novel by just holding it; so we have to read it, explore it, go inside it, and imagine that we are there with them. I told them to put their love in what they are reading, and as they read the novel, I asked them to observe the characters and the way they talk, act and interact with other characters, and take note of the sequence of events from the beginning, rising action, climax, falling action and ending. Then I discussed with them the characterization of the characters. “ Insight into characters in literary texts could also derived directly through the characters’ actions, speech and thoughts. A character’s actions, speech and thoughts in any situation would throw light on his personality and character traits.”(Edwin,2004) I love to hear their different opinions regarding the characters of Kino, Juana, the pearl buyers, the doctor, Juan Tomas, Apolonia, the priest and the trackers. The most interesting part is when the students tried to bring out the theme of the novel together with the moral values and lessons that they have learned, they finally discovered the situational irony in the novel. 

The pearl of the world that Kino had discovered which was supposed to bring the image of wealth, happiness and purity has turned out to be the cause of evilness, discrimination, envy, disaster, obsession, and finally the dramatic tragedy as Coyotito, the only baby of poor Kino and Juana , was accidentally killed by one of the trackers.
I do not encourage my students to bring in any reference books for “The Pearl” as I wanted them to discover independently the "pearls" hidden in “The Pearl” and of course I facilitated them as they did various activities. I want my students to enjoy the literature lesson and make them explore the novel themselves so that it will be students’ oriented and not just teacher centered. I also gave my comments and feedback as they express their views individually or in groups. I love to see their cheerfulness and enthusiasm as they express and support their thoughts. What really touched me was when my students finally admitted that they love literature and really enjoyed the class. It is so amazing to see my students developing in their personal growth, improving in their language proficiency and bringing other literary text into the class room to be exchanged among themselves for extensive reading.
“Literature is experience, not information, and the students must be invited to participate in it, not simply observe it from outside. Thus, the students is very important- not simply a recipient of information, but rather a maker of knowledge out of meetings with literary texts.” Probst (1988:Preface)