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The Progress of Lesson 2

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    The aim of the second lesson was to discuss the text as ‘cultuurtekst’: text as a cultural construct through discursive mapping. I had wanted to draw students’ attention to the prominence of particular discourses in the text, and how these took on an aura of ‘truth’. The issues of representation had surfaced in the first lesson, but I wanted students to recognize the cultural locatedness of the text, i.e. the different discourses and values, and to see whether the range of different discourses added an extra layer of meaning to the text.

    The lesson moved from eliciting some initial responses from the Dutch students to discussing issues of representation: how maleness and femaleness were constructed and what particular values, intertexts, and discourses were recognizable. Finally, we moved to the question of whether this issue is talked about differently in England and Holland; in other words, was there a Dutch articulation? By the exercise of discursive mapping, as well as looking at ‘Dutch articulation’, I asked students in effect to look at both a ‘generic’ and a ‘differential’ level of language and culture (see Chapter 3).

    After the short discussion around the initial responses of the Dutch students, I had asked students to do an exercise in pairs to look specifically at how men and women were represented in the text and to make a list of words and expressions which showed that. The aim of the exercise was to encourage students to see these different discursive formations by looking at the language used. By doing the exercise I hoped to make the (conflicting) discourses visible. After this exercise, we looked at the text in sections by which I hoped that the students would recognize the different voices with which women were represented. So far in the first lesson, only Claire had picked up the issue of the different representations. In the second lesson which I discuss below, students were ‘dialoguing’ more with one another and responding to one another’s comments than in the previous lesson.

    On the whole, the Dutch students took a fairly equal part and the English students were not particularly more interested in what the Dutch students had to say in comparison to themselves. The Dutch students were perhaps a little reticent and less likely to respond as this was a new group and also a new way of looking at texts. The English students felt very comfortable in their comments about how things were ‘done’ in the Netherlands; as they had lived there during the year abroad, they felt their observations were valid.

    My role during this lesson was less fore-grounded than in the first lesson. Whereas I asked questions to initiate discussions, responded to students’ answers, and asked students to elaborate on certain points, on the whole, I took a background role. Students were dialoguing and engaged in the discussions, frequently without any prompting from me.

    I did not use the questions on the framework explicitly, as it had become clear during the first lesson, that working our way through the framework rigidly stopped the flow of the discussion. Nevertheless, there was progress in the lesson as I had the framework questions in my mind, and through the discussions, the notion of discourses and values in the text were gradually made more explicit by the students. However, this process did not take place neatly in a linear way and also led to misunderstandings amongst students as they sometimes were more interested in discussing the issues which were thrown up as a result of having highlighted the discourses, rather than seeing the text as the microcosmos in which these discourses were reflected and recreated. It turned out that the presence of the Dutch students helped to make the discussion more focused. I will start with the latter point below, and then move on to discuss how students engaged with the text and its underpinning values in an increasingly intercultural and ethnographic manner.

    This page titled The Progress of Lesson 2 is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Gerdi Quist (Ubiquity Press) .

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