Tutor profile: Emily T.
Subject: Library and Information Science
How would you approach updating an outdated children's and young adult collection?
This is something I have encountered on more than one occasion in my career. Finding a balance in a collection of classics and an updated modern collection is a challenge. I like to start with any collection no matter what shape it is in, by weeding. I prefer to hand weed, rather than working from a generated list by check out date. This allows to put my hands on every book in the collection, and make a determination on the content of the collection as a whole, rather than just pulling books which haven't been used in an arbitrary amount of time. Once I get a feel for the personality of the readers that use the collection, and any holes which might be present in the content through the weeding process, then I begin ordering to update and upgrade the collection. For fiction I like to take a look at how I can diversify the selection. This is in regards to authors, as well as as subjects. Once I find a balance of diverse authors and subjects I like to go back through and see how the readership has responded, in a secondary weeding process. Not every new book will be a hit, and this second pass through allows me to see the reader response to new selections, and informs my ordering going forward. In regards to non-fiction, keeping an updated collection is a bit simpler. Similarly, I begin with a wholesale weeding of the entire section. This lets me see what is outdated and what information is missing. Outdated information is the killer of a good non-fiction section. In this regard it matters less what the users are checking out, if the information is bad, then the book needs to be replaced with something more up to date and accurate. After the initial weeding of a non-fiction section I like to focus on filling in the information gaps. Rather than a secondary weed for this section, I focus on replacing outdate information, and ordering to fill knowledge gaps,
Subject: Film and Theater
How would you describe the relationship between Bianca and Cassio in Shakespeare's Othello?
I think there is a tendency to reduce Bianca to a meaningless background character and plot device. Limiting her to being the funny side show and caricature who speaks more to Cassio's character than it does to advancing his character arc. Similarly I think that he is often dismissed as a plot device, and played to only the bare minimum of his efficacy within the play to advance Iago's plan. There is far more that a performer can do with this relationship that to relegate it to a back burner. It is incredibly important to play Bianca as a real person, and to stay away from making her an empty headed afterthought. What are her motivations? Does she really love Cassio? I believe she does. More importantly I believe that Cassio comes to realize that he really loves her. When she catches him talking about her in a prime example of "locker room talk", I think that is the moment when he realizes that she really means something to him. The way to accomplish this is by playing her strongly in this scene. Have her show her emotion, rather boiling her down to her sexual presence. This moment can be bolstered in her final appearance by having Cassio show his genuine affection for her, when he believes he is dying. These choices up the stakes of their relationship and make it a meaningful emotional moment for the audience, lending depth to a production. I would describe Bianca and Cassio as real. A real couple with their own issues, and communication problems which can be effectively communicated in three short scenes. They are the bread and butter, relatable, blue collar connection to the high brow upper class relationship of Othello and Desdemona.
How would you go about helping a student with challenges develop a love of reading?
Reading is frequently taught as an essential skill, something which must be done, rather than something which can also be enjoyed. The manner in which reading is encouraged in the classroom, can be cold and distanced, limited to improving skills by advancement of reading material, and involving analysis. I am a great proponent of helping students to read what they are interested in. Finding a book that they have an active desire to read, encourages the process of reading. Even if that book is below grade level, or not something traditionally used in a classroom setting, using that book as a jumping off place, and then finding more like it, in varying degrees of difficulty will encourage the student to continue reading because they enjoy it. Limiting the student to only the assigned readings, limits their ability to improve as a reader, by putting parameters on what they understand reading to be. Quality of literacy can be improved by reading Captain Underpants, the same way that it can be improved by reading Bridge to Terabithia. But the if the student isn't interested in Bridge to Terabithia, they will try less hard, and be less likely to pick up another book afterwards. Finding subject matter that the student is interested in, and then assisting them through the process of understanding that subject matter, will improve their skills. For students with challenges sometimes this means doing some of the reading out loud as the teacher, so that the student can follow along. The teacher should ensure understanding at each step, and encourage the student to ask questions when they have them. It all starts with finding a title the student enjoys though. They will be more likely to work through something which challenges them that they find interesting, that to work through something which they do not enjoy.
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