“I was prepared to dislike Max Kelada even before I knew him”.
W. Somerset Maugham’s opening sentence of the story “Mr. Know All’ is crystal clear.
This is a story dealing with prejudices.
I should be saying:
“Great, Naomi. You already have a pre-reading task ready on “being too quick to judge”, go prepare something else for the upcoming school year”.
I try to convince myself:
“You even posted about the importance of focusing on the central idea of the story in the pre-reading task, including a quote from a reading expert! Move on!” (Shifting the focus of pre-reading tasks, August 2018)
But I can’t.
Look at the next sentence:
“The war had just finished and the passenger traffic in the ocean-going liners was heavy”.
The war in question is World War 1.
You may think that it doesn’t really matter that my Deaf and hard-of-hearing students haven’t a clue as to when that war ended (some are a bit surprised that there was a WW1 even though the numbering should have been a clue…) but it actually matters a great deal.
For starters, if I don’t emphasize the time frame my students cannot fathom why the characters are spending two weeks on a ship instead of hopping on a plane, spending their time ignoring the other passengers.
There would be no drama without the journey on the ship.
But then my students get the whole issue of nationalities mixed up.
And it all comes up in the first paragraph.
The narrator was traveling from San Francisco to Yokohama
My students assume the narrator was American (once we ensure everyone knows where these cities are located…) because who else travels from San Francisco?
After my students have already jumped to conclusions it’s much harder for them to internalize the information about the British Empire and who is or isn’t a real “British Gentleman”.
“… I should have looked upon it with less dismay if my fellow passenger’s name had been Smith or Brown.”
Those surnames do not indicate any nationality at all to my students…
In short, I created a new slideshow.
While there are a few spaces where students are required to fill in the missing information (“look it up, students!!), this is not a task meant to be completed independently, without teacher involvement.
While difficult vocabulary items can be glossed, setting the stage for the story is crucial.
Now I can work on updating the glossary…
Here is the slideshow.