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Teaching Literature at Ridgeview

Russell Weaver

This collection of essays demonstrates that using fiction, poetry, and drama in the classroom provides students with the best opportunity to learn about thinking, writing, and life at their deepest levels. Several of the contributors have worked or studied at Ridgeview Classical School in Fort Collins, Colorado. E. D. Hirsch, in The Making of Americans, has said of this school that its success «stands as a sharp rebuke to the anti-intellectual pedagogy of most American schools». Within this volume, readers will also encounter essays by teachers who have not worked at Ridgeview but utilize the same approach to teaching, illustrating that these methods can be used with students at all levels of education, from rural schools to major universities. Included in the appendices are course descriptions, syllabi, and study questions to provide examples of how these teaching concepts can be applied in the classroom. Ultimately, these authors provide readers with new insight, in this era of supposed practicality, by illuminating literature as a down-to-earth vehicle whereby students can learn to read, write, think, and feel in ways that empower them both as learners and as human beings.
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Teacher and Principal, Ridgeview Classical School

I hope it will be informative to begin my account of teaching literature at Ridgeview with a short description of my classes with Russell Weaver at Ashland University. I had come to AU with the intention of studying philosophy, which I did, and with the desire to compete as a student-athlete, which I also did. However, I had not been prepared for my first class with Dr. Weaver. It was, as Hannah Arendt had said about Heidegger, as if “thinking had become alive again … There is a teacher; maybe one can learn to think again.” As a freshman, I took a class with Dr. Weaver and I continued to take one for each of the following seven semesters. I had seen thinking come alive in the classroom and I knew that I had to apprentice myself to this teacher if I wanted to learn to think.

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