Because of You

The focus of today’s post is you, the readers of Teaching Tolkien.  One of the benefits of this reading project is the opportunity my students have to interact with people outside of their school and community.  They have greatly enjoyed the interaction from your supportive comments and your positive response to their work.  It has been highly educational for them to learn about your countries as they’ve marked them on our classroom atlas and they ask me daily if we have picked up any new readers in uncharted territory.

Today I am appealing to all of you to have some input in the direction of our site.  Teaching Tolkien was designed to be a resource for creating and sharing materials and methods for using the works of J.R.R. Tolkien in the classroom.  It is also a place for Tolkien fans and readers alike to engage in discussions on the text, be reminded of the fresh perspectives that new and somewhat younger eyes may have on it, and assist in the process of passing on the joy of discovering Middle-Earth to a new generation.

I suppose that sounds a bit idealistic, but I truly do hope that this site, as it continues to grow within the Tolkien community, will break new ground and push the boundaries of classroom usage of Tolkien’s works.  Today I’m giving you the opportunity to assist my students in some of their ground-breaking work as both young, struggling readers and second-language learners struggling with the additional burden of learning English.

My students would love to know what types of questions you have for them and what topics related to Lord of the Rings you would like them to focus on for future blog posts.  We would love to hear from you and any ideas you have for potential detours on our journey.  Teaching Tolkien has definitely been an unexpected journey for my students and me and we are glad to have companions from around the world along for the ride.

8 Comments on “Because of You”

  1. Tinfang Warble
    April 19, 2013 at 10:25 am #

    When reading The Hobbit to my daughter there were two things she showed great interest in:
    – Beorn as a character (protective, shape shifter)
    – Thorin Oakenshield reconciliation before dying with Bilbo after the Arkenstone ruse

    Beorn is interesting as a character because he was powerful, careful and loyal once you proved yourself as truthful. He was a solo character who cared for animals but of course he identified with them because he was also a strong bear..

    Thorin was a good person but overcome with greed who realised the good character of Bilbo after he experienced the bad consequences of his actions. But he did realise and acknowledge. There is still the sadness of his death even when the story of their friendship has a happy ending.

    • hmrodgers
      April 19, 2013 at 11:47 am #

      Interesting areas to explore! Thank you!

  2. Troelsfo
    April 19, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    I am starting to forget what I have said where about your journey and your blog 🙂

    The Tolkien community has always been very interested in listening to first time stories, and there is often a wariness not to spoil too much (and an underlying excited anticipation as one waits for the new readers to come to one’s own particularly favourite passages). For now I am happy to be able to look over your shoulder and follow your progress, helping with what encouragement and knowledge I may, but as you finish the story and we can discuss more freely, I hope to enjoy a more lively exchange here.

    There are a few passages that I am looking very much forward to reading your reactions to — particularly because of the mixed backgrounds. Perhaps especially some comments in book IV about warriors and homelands, and later on, at the top of some very long stairs, a discussion on the nature of story. Do you ever look up at the beauty of the stars and realise that the Shadow is just a passing thing? And do you then also realise that we are all, all of us who will enjoy the piercing beauty of the stars, a part of the same story?

    I set great value in idealism, and I hope that this site will achieve what you wish for it.

    My own role as an educator is mainly related to my involvement in scouting in Denmark, and there I would enjoy finding ways to use Tolkien’s stories to engage our scouts (the themes underlying Tolkien’s stories are great for discussing some of the things we wish to educate our scouts on) — using Tolkien with the same age group, but also out of the classroom, helping them to develop as whole persons. (As an additional bit of information, I recently found out that J.R.R. Tolkien and his brother Hilary had been patrol leaders for a scout patrol back in Birmingham in the first years of our movement.)

    • hmrodgers
      April 19, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

      What a fantastic idea to incorporate Tolkien with scouting! Thank you for your ideas and your support. I look forward to more lively discussions on the site, as well.

  3. The Starry Mantle
    April 19, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

    Holly, I applaud your efforts in teaching your students as well as their hard work and devotion to this project! I hope that you’ll be able to realise many of your goals for this blog — I think it’s wonderful.

    One thing I’d be interesting in hearing about and might be an interesting discussion for your class are your students’ thoughts on the nature of mythology, both Tolkien’s and that of their own countries. What similarities and dissimilarities do they see? Are there any particular features of Tolkien’s invented mythology that resonate with their own cultures’ mythologies or that are particularly unusual to them?

    • hmrodgers
      April 19, 2013 at 5:08 pm #

      Oooh, I LOVE that idea! Think we’ll definitely pursue that. Thank you!

  4. Jason Fisher
    April 25, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

    A loose parallel that has struck me is how your students are learning English (or improving the English they already know), just as Bilbo learned Elvish and then taught some of it to Frodo. Frodo flatters the Elves he meets leaving the Shire by speaking to them in their own language. Indeed, language is a powerful thing, breaking down all kinds of barriers and opening all kinds of doors (literally opening the door to Moria, for example). I’d be interested in hearing whether Tolkien’s use of imaginary languages in his novel, and his example of Frodo learning and using Elvish, touches off any conversation with your students about learning English and reading Tolkien in English.

    • hmrodgers
      April 25, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

      Great point, Jason, and great suggestion!

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