Open Boat, The
- 1 Column One
- 1.1 Exordium
- 1.2 Interpretation
- 1.3 Erudition
- 2 Column Two
- 3 Column Three
- 4 References
Column One teaching and learning should make up about 10% to 15% of the total scheduled instructional time. It is didactic in nature and uses teacher lectures, text books or other didactic instructional materials, and questioning appropriate to this mode of education. Teaching in this mode encompasses of three facets: Exoridium, Interpretation, and Erudition.
- The story is fairly short, but it can be beneficial for students to have audio access for the first read through, although they should still follow with the written text with a pencil in hand.
- free audio copy of the book: http://freelistens.blogspot.com/2008/07/open-boat-by-stephen-crane.html The live links at the top ot the review for each chapter give you the opportunity to download the audio for that chapter.
- Text with line numbers is available for print out in the school's moodle site in the Rdg & Wrtng II-B class Week of March 21 to 27, 2012
- Text can also be accessed on the following site: http://www.online-literature.com/crane/2544/ This site also has links to other Stephen Crane works as well as background and biographical information.
- This work is in the public domain.
Textual Interpretation refers to the teacher's didactic analysis of a written work in terms of the four major questions a demanding reader should ask of a text. Using the term work instead of book, these questions are: (1) What is the text about as a whole? (2) What is being said in detail, and how? (3) Is the text true, in whole or part? and (4) What of it? The Exordium begins to answer the first question because it introduces the whole text both orally and in writing (although the oral presentation may be limited in the case of longer works). It is in the Interpretation stage of Column One instruction that the teacher didactically begins to thoroughly unlock the second question. The third and fourth questions are relevant to Interpretation, but question two receives most of the teacher's attention. It is only when the student begins Column Two activities that a fuller grasp of questions three and four begins to mature in the student's mind. Consistent with the purpose of Column One instruction, the teacher is simply introducing elements of proper interpretation for the student to build on during Column Two and Column Three learning.
These questions can be appropriately modified for analysis of a work in science, mathematics, or the fine arts. Analysis of these types of works proceeds in a manner analagous to that of a text. Inasmuch as imaginative literature can be considered a work of fine art, the analogies drawn in Adler's and Van Doren's How to Read a Book can serve as a guide to other types of works too.
Interpretation of <Words and Terms> or <Elements>
In textual interpretation, the teacher didactically presents the author's key terms in the stage of Interpretation of Words and Terms. In addition, the teacher anticipates unfamiliar general vocabulary. These words and terms are given didactically, either orally or in writing, or both, but the task of interpreting is a Column Two skill of learning that the teacher must coach. Consequently, the purpose of this Column One stage is merely to point out key terms and potentially unfamiliar terms. The student must learn how to interpret. Again, this planning can be adapted to other kinds of works.
Interpretation of Key Terms
The key terms are those few words or phrases the author uses in unique, special, or important ways.. In the Column Two stage, students are coached both to find these key terms and to "unlock" them on their own. This skill is essential to analytical reading. In this Column One stage, however, the teacher points out a list of such terms. Students should understand that this listing is not necessarily exhaustive. In addition, the teacher provides students with a handful of these terms worked out in detail for consideration; it should consist of about three to five terms.
- dinghy a small boat usually carried on a larger ship to travel to and from shore in calm harbor waters
- <Second Term>
The teacher may anticipate general unfamiliar vocabulary and point out the more difficult words either orally or in writing or both. However, defining words using context, a dictionary, or a knowlegable friend or adult (including the teacher) is a Column Two skill that must be coached. Teachers must help students build good habits of knowing the meanings of words. Dictionaries, in both electronic and book form must be available, and students must be taught how to use them. They must also be taught how to ask for definitions--a perfectly acceptible life skill commonly used by demanding readers!
- dinghya small boat intended to ferry people from the ship to the dock in calm harbors. Usually around 12 feet long.
Note: If the teacher points out words in anticipation of their potential difficulty, this should be done in context by giving citations or electronically highlighting the words.
Interpretation of Sentences
One point of didactic interpretation at the level of interpreting sentences is to use grammar to get at the author's meaning. As with interpreting words and terms, this level of interpretation is also a Column Two skill that must be coached. Consequently, at the Column One didactic level, a teacher should choose a handful of the most difficult sentences in the text for demonstration. The teacher will always unlock the grammar of a few important and more difficult sentences for students independent of whether these sentences are key premeses to an argument. As appropriate to the text, a teacher should also consider demonstrating the grammar of sentences that work together as propositions in the author's most important arguments.
Another important point is to demonstrate the meter and prosody in both poetry and prose texts. This aim is in great danger of being completely overlooked or forgotten in a world where oral reading is not nearly as common as it once was. Nevertheless, great speechs often succeed in part because the author understands prosody. Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and King's I Have a Dream serve as striking examples. The teacher should select sentences or versus to demonstrate both meter and rhythm.
- <First Sentence>: <explanation of the grammar and how it helps to unlock the author's meaning>
- <Second Sentence>: <etc.>
- <Third Sentence>: <explanation of meter and rhythm, consideration of overall prosody>
- <Fourth Sentence>: <etc.>
Interpretation of Passages
Crane uses repetition of the same key words and phrases in a fascinating way: (line numbers refer to the numbered copy posted on the school moodle site.)
"If I am going to be drowned-- if I am going to be drowned--if I am going to be drowned, why, in the name of the seven mad gods who rule the sea, was I allowed to come thus far and contemplate sand and trees? Was I brought here merely to have my nose dragged away as I was about to nibble the sacred cheese of life? It is preposterous. If this old ninny-woman, Fate, cannot do better than this, she should be deprived of the management of men's fortunes. She is an old hen who knows not her intention. If she has decided to drown me, why did she not do it in the beginning and save me all this trouble? The whole affair is absurd.... But no, she cannot mean to drown me. She dare not drown me. She cannot drown me. Not after all this work."
"If I am going to be drowned--if I am going to be drowned--if I am going to be drowned, why, in the name of the seven mad gods who rule the sea, was I allowed to come thus far and contemplate sand and trees? Was I brought here merely to have my nose dragged away as I was about to nibble the sacred cheese of life?"
"If I am going to be drowned--if I am going to be drowned--if I am going to be drowned, why, in the name of the seven mad gods who rule the sea, was I allowed to come thus far and contemplate sand and trees?"
Note the decreasing length but total repetitiveness of the quotes. Have student consider and discuss what this does in terms of reflecting the narrator's state of mind and exhaustion.
The narrator continues to contemplate drowning with further quotes:
It merely occurred to him that if he should drown it would be a shame.
He thought: "I am going to drown? Can it be possible Can it be possible? Can it be possible?" Perhaps an individual must consider his own death to be the final phenomenon of nature.
In his struggle to reach the captain and the boat, he reflected that when one gets properly wearied, drowning must really be a comfortable arrangement, a cessation of hostilities accompanied by a large degree of relief, and he was glad of it, for the main thing in his mind for some months had been horror of the temporary agony. He did not wish to be hurt.
Have the students analyze and discuss what is happening now to the author's attitude and acceptance.
Erudition refers to all manner of background information assumed by or necessary to understanding or fully appreciating the text.
<Note that these categories are presented alphabetically for ease of organization>
- <information relevant to anthropological issues and discoveries--include citations--delete if not used>
- <information about references to things no longer commonly understood because of their situation in ages past--include citations--delete if not used>
- <information about the author--always include>
- <information about other textual references to important people--include citations--delete if not used>
- <information and links to cultural references--include citations--delete if not used>
- <information and links to ethical references--include citations--delete if not used>
- <links to relevant maps--delete if not used>
- <information and links to historical references--include citations--delete if not used>
Column Two teaching consists of coaching. This mode of instruction aims at helping students to form habitual skills in the language, scientific, and fine arts. Thus, a teacher must correct students as they practice listening, speaking, reading, writing, observing with the senses unaided, observing with the aid of scientific apparatus, measuring, estimating, calculating, and exercising dexterity in the musical and visual arts. Each of these arts in turn rely upon the aquisition of fine and gross motor, imagination, and memory skills. These rules for developing Paideia Unit Plans address teachers. For their counterpart written for students, see Paideia Learning Plan.
Column Two learning comprises 65% to 75% of scheduled learning time. It's chief charactaristic is student activity. Students must be practicing some skill or skills while the teacher corrects him or her. While athletic coaching is an obvious example of this type of instruction, debate coaching, directing a drama, art instruction, and piano lessons also represent coaching. In order to coach well, a teacher must have a repertoire of activities carefully designed to exercised desired skills. Additionally, the teacher must have a clear idea of how to correct the skills as students practice them to ensure their habitual formation.
- <links to additional quality recordings--include citations--delete if not used>
- <information relevant to listening for grammatical, logical, rhetorical, poetical, and stylistic elements of the work--include citations--delete if not used>
- <imitation of quality oral readings--should be a part of every unit>
- <recitations from memory--should be some part of every unit>
- <oral presentations of written work--should be a part of most units>
- <class discussions--should be a part of every unit>
- <recitation of the rules of reading from Adler's and Van Doren's How to Read a Book or similar rules>
- <read hard-copy with a pencil in hand--always!>
- <marking up a text both with a pencil and electronically>
- <inspectional reading notes as taught in Adler's and Van Doren's How to Read a Book>
Character Annotation Chart Name ___________________________________________________
Track your impressions of characters as we read “The Open Boat”. Include 3-5 quotations/summaries with page numbers for the description and strengths/weaknesses. After you finish the story, summarize the fate of each character. Character Description Strengths/Weaknesses Fate of Character
(A formatted/table worksheet for this assignment is available on the school moodle site in the Rdg & Wrtng II-B class for the week of March 21-27, 2012.)
- <Choose phrases from text and express them in different ways>
- <Reconstruct a previously disarranged passage from the text>
- <Compose verses or lines in imitation of the author>
- <Change a passage or poem of one kind into another kind>
- <Imitate a passage>
- <Write a composition imitating the author>
- <Translate sentences or passages into Latin or another language>
Seminar Question Writing Guidelines
The following table serves to guide teachers in understanding the types of questions that guide good seminars and how to write them. Good seminars follow the general structure given by Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren in their classic How to Read a Book published by Simon & Schuster in 1972. Column one gives the four main questions that a demanding reader should ask of any book. These questions guide the types of questions and the purpose of each type used in good seminars. The last column serves to illustrate questions that might be asked of The Declaration of Independence, The Gettysburg Address, or Hamlet. This table could be easily adapted for any work of fine art like a painting or a musical score.
|From How to Read a Book
Adler & Van Doren (1972)
|Question Type||Purpose of Question Type||Sample Seminar Questions
Answers to Be Supported from the Text
|What is the book (work) about as a whole?||Opening||Identify main ideas||This story's title is: "The Open Boat: A TALE INTENDED TO BE AFTER THE FACT. BEING THE EXPERIENCE OF FOUR MEN SUNK FROM THE STEAMER COMMODORE" Is this the story of four men, or is it about one more than the others?
Provide your own subtitle: A TALE OF. . .
|What is being said in detail and how?||Analytical||Root out main ideas, assertions, and arguments||Who are the characters in this story? In what ways are they the same? In what ways are they different from each other? (roles on the boat)
Examine the evolution of the characters' attitude toward drowning, particularly the correspondent--does it change? Why or why not? If yes, how?
|Is the book (work) true, in whole or part?||Evaluative||Make and support judgments||The author states at the beginning of section III: It would be difficult to describe the subtle brotherhood of men that was here established on the seas. No one said that it was so. No one mentioned it. But it dwelt in the boat, and each man felt it warm him.
They were a captain, an oiler, a cook, and a correspondent, and they were friends, friends in a more curiously iron-bound degree than may be common. The hurt captain, lying against the water-jar in the bow, spoke always in a low voice and calmly, but he could never command a more ready and swiftly obedient crew than the motley three of the dinghy. It was more than a mere recognition of what was best for the common safety. There was surely in it a quality that was personal and heartfelt. And after this devotion to the commander of the boat there was this comradeship that the correspondent, for instance, who had been taught to be cynical of men, knew even at the time was the best experience of his life. But no one said that it was so. No one mentioned it.
Why would "the friendship be more iron-bound than may be common"? Do you think it really was? Why or why not?
The author states four times that no one spoke of this bond--why wouldn't the men speak of it? Would it change the bond if they did speak of it? Why or why not?
Do you have a preferred character? Who? Why?
|What of it?||Closing||Relate judgments about ideas to one's own life||What would you think of, if you were in that open boat? What would you most regret? Be most glad of?|
<Include written plans of actual seminars that have been conducted here.>
- How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren, 1972, pp. 46-7)
- How to Read a Book, Ch. 8
- see Adler, The Paideia Proposal, 1982, pp. 27-8; see also Adler, The Paideia Program, 1984, ch. 2