U is for Understanding a Comfortable Environment

| April 25, 2014

As a kid I would sometimes stare at the sunlight that the window’s blinds would splice. I could still see the illuminated particles in the air though.


Understanding a Comfortable Environment

Prior to class, in addition to reflecting upon Wordsworth’s poem “Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 2, 1802” (and their previous analysis thereof), students will complete an assignment for homework that necessitates an analysis of an environment with which they are familiar: They will record their thoughts on how they perceive this place, endeavoring to uncover that which fosters the normality therein. What makes this place normal? What would not? Students will then reflect upon what could potentially alter this environment, and how this alteration would affect this preconceived perception.

Applying their understandings of subjectivity and their environment, students will collectively read “Frost at Midnight” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. While reading this poem, students will consider the following questions:

  1. How does our emotional, physical, and cognitive state affect how we perceive our surroundings?
  2. How might our past affect our current perception?
  3. Is nostalgia, if at all, problematic?
  4. To what extent can a person be present?
  5. Is it selfish to not give someone our entire attention?
  6. In this poem, how significant might the speaker’s environment be?

After multiple readings and annotations (with different colored ink for each read), in groups of three, students will illustrate (by means of pencils/colored pencils) the extent to which Coleridge, the poem’s speaker, is present in his current environment. These illustrations must supply textual evidence to support the speaker’s degree of engagement with the environment: Students must consider how nostalgia plays an integral role in the speaker’s behavior. Subsequent to finishing the illustrations, each group will present them and explain the critical, creative intent therein. For homework, students will compose a formal two-page analysis on the poem, which is based upon the critical observations embedded in their illustrations.