How to Talk about The Little Red Schoolhouse Curriculum on the Job Market

You may be surprised to learn that knowing the Little Red Schoolhouse (LRS) curriculum often matters more to literature people than to writing people. Here's why: if you're a writing person you need to know all the major pedagogies and their strengths and weaknesses. But no one expects a literature person to know them all. However, if you know one that's distinctive, and let's you mark your teaching, then your ability to teach writing is not a ticket you've punched, but a genuine advantage. In addition, LRS is more adaptable as a background for teaching literature than most other pedagogies. Be prepared to offer a two minute example of how an LRS activity improves students' ability to learn literature.

  **You've got to know what LRS is, where it came from, and what its reach is.
  **You've got to know what's special or distinctive about the LRS curriculum, like the following:

LRS is grounded in the writing of professionals, not students. That is, it teaches students what they need to know not what they used to know.

-LRS is explicit and formal: tells you what to do where and when.

-LRS is highly flexible: it is used to teach lawyers, doctors, engineers, literary critics, all the way down to first year students--teaches them principles that they can adapt to new environments.

-LRS is entirely reader based: what do I have to do to get my readers to respond how I want is the question it asks and answers consistently.

-LRS gives students a coherent theory of what a text is and how it works.

-LRS teaching starts with student intuitions and responses--it does not move from principle to application but from intuition to application. LRS gives a principle for describing intuition and then teaching students how to manage those intuitions.

  **You've got to have a two minute explanation of LRS with an example of what it looks like. For example, if you want students to know x, then you teach them one of the following: nominalizations (characters & actions); introductions (fairytales); and point of view (for instance, the lesson handout that shows how judges changed their minds when presented with evidence from different points of view). You'll need to explain quickly how one of these lessons would play out.

If you're a graduate student in the English Department at the University of Virginia, you'll have wonderful preparation for the job market through the Placement Director. Click here for the website, and if you've forgotten the password, contact someone in the English Graduate Office