Saturday, March 27, 2010

Saturday English Teacher Weirdness

While roaming across the inter-webs, I happened upon a post that refers to this novels tournament bracket.  Round 2 is here.  I guess that makes this bracket of young adult fiction the NIT.  Then there's this idea for poetry brackets.  Silly me, I had no idea novels season was almost over, and I thought poetry season started in June.

If lit teachers are going to copy the sports world, we should go all in and play fantasy authors.  (I am aware that the use of the poker term "all in" matched with a fantasy game could be considered an evil mixed metaphor, but I prefer to think of it as a clever bit of misdirection.)

The rules could be fairly simple.  Each team would need six novelists, playwrights, poets, essayists,or short story writers.  Each team must have three male authors and three female authors.  Teams must include authors from the ancient world, the Middle Ages, the 17th Century, the 18th Century, the 19th Century,and the 20th Century.  The team must have American, British, European, and Asian/African authors.

The inclusion of non-American/British authors and the demand for gender equality makes it difficult to stack a team.  For example, I wanted Shakespeare, Twain, and Confucius, but, off the top of my head, I couldn't think of women authors from the other time periods to get all three.

20th Century: Flannery O'Connor (American)

19th Century: Jane Austin (British--She published most of her works between 1810-1815)

18th Century: Mary Wollstonecraft (British)

17th Century: William Shakespeare (British)

Middle Ages: Thomas Aquinas (European)

Ancient World:  Confucius (Asian)

Players earn points every time one of their authors is quoted or alluded to in major news publications or on-line news sources like time Time, Newsweek, CNN, or The New York Times.  Leagues could pick five to ten acceptable publications.  The scoring could be simple:  1 point for an allusion, 2 points for a direct quotation.

For example, my team listed above would get a point for this CNN article that mentions Confucius.  I'd want extra points because poetry about garlic is under-appreciated, but that's a different discussion. Whoever has Twain would get points for this NYT article.  If someone has G.K. Chesterton, they'd get two points for this Time editorial.

Although I started this post as a joke, I might try to flesh this idea out and use it in my world lit class next fall.  I do an allusions unit and try to compare some the authors we cover to American authors the students have studied.  I also have them do a quotation response notebook.  This game might make them a bit more willing to look for quotations in actual reading instead of running to a quote book as a first option.

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