Theory meets practice. Classical texts in the primary school classroom.

Submitted by: Anne Lind
Abstract: Revised Version.
Abstract at ARLE conference 2019. Anne Bergljot Svenkerud, Anne Lind.
Key words: Classical texts - literacy - teacher education - adaptation - thematic analysis
Theory meets practice. Classical texts in the primary school classroom
Teacher education in the second year of Norwegian at Oslo Metropolitan University emphasizes a canon of classical texts by authors such as Henrik Ibsen (1867), Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson (1857), and children’s classics by Astrid Lindgren (1959) and Tove Jansson (1963). Students often find these older texts challenging to work with. An assignment the students get is to choose one of the texts from this curriculum and adapt it to pupils in primary school (5th, 6th, 7th grade) (Weinreich 1997). Three of the students’ teachers wanted to investigate how the students applied the theoretical knowledge they had acquired at the teacher education to their practical work in the classroom; and if this would enhance their understanding of both texts and didactics. Our project was undertaken in the spring of 2018 where the teacher educators visited the students at their practitionary schools to see the results of their work. They chose different adaptations; dramatizing scenes, station work with fairytales, music, drawing, dance, different writing assignments, and digital picturebook.
Our methods were observation in the classroom, interview of twelve students, each of them by their tutor, and close reading of students’ texts, which were didactic descriptions of their adaptations. For analyzing the transcribed interviews we chose a thematic analysis following the guidelines of Braun & Clarke (2006).
The topics the students thematize led us to form three themes: The students’ attitudes towards classical texts, their literary competence and their knowledge of literary didactics and adaptation. We found that the students were fond of reading generally, but had little knowledge of classical texts, and thought it was “old and heavy stuff.” The next finding was that a change of attitude took place in preparing for the adaptation and that all students were positive to the texts after the adaptation process, both to read them and to use them in primary school. Finally we found that pupils at the age of 10-13 clearly could relate to issues in these texts and enjoyed the adaptation of them, and that this fact generated enthusiasm and motivation in the students.
On this background we will discuss two main issues at the ARLE conference, one concerning reasons why the students changed their attitudes towards classical texts. The other question deals with how classical texts can be adapted to pupils in primary school (Rosenblatt 2001).
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