Tuesday, 16 February 2010

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

I have received an e-mail from a lady asking me about my experiences when it comes to teaching Mark Haddon's novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and rather than sharing my experiences with just one person, I will post it here for more people to read.

I have read this novel two times with my first year students. I am sure there are various ways of teaching a novel, but when it comes to this particular novel, I have asked the students to do most of the reading at home. I ususally give them some time in class in the beginning, though, just to make sure they all get started. As they read along, I have asked them to fill in information about plot, themes and characters in a table like this:

One of the advantages of taking notes like these, is that the students are forced to make up their own minds about certain central points in a literary text, and they also need to dig deeper into the text in order to find relevant paragraphs and chapters to illustrate their points of view.

When all the students have finished reading the novel, I have set aside time for group discussions on the text. I usually split the classes into groups of 5-6 so that they will all have to participate. The students' performance in these discussions is assessed. The kind of questions I ask, and how many questions I have to ask each group depend on how talkative the students are, but I usually find that most 16 year olds have quite a lot of things to say about Christopher's story so that I do not have to go through a long list of questions.

All in all, I like using this novel with my classes. Most students find the text quite easy to read, and they can also see that Christopher is different, but not all that different from themselves. I guess it is a good idea that we all see the world through someone else's eyes at times, and I am sure I will read this novel with more students in the future.

I have also written about the novel in these blog posts: