Key to Reading comprehension in the post 51
Learning experience 2
a. teachers (from ‘teaching’ in the title)
b. what goes on in the classroom while teaching and learning.
Because emotions of human beings are involved in the whole process of the education
c. performers other than us
d. the teacher’s
e. values, relative
f. Just as we love animals that we rear at home and are affected by anything that may happen
to them, we love our definitions of success and failure and are affected by criticisms from
g. ‘Actors’ actually ‘pretend’ to be what they are not. Whereas there’s no pretention in the
case of teachers because what they do is real.
Learning experience 3
We as teachers should perform our duties without bothering about success or failure or criticisms from others because we are bound by the morals of the teaching profession.
Learning experience 5
As teachers we are part of teaching-learning situation. But we are not the only people involved in this situation. There are others like learners, syllabus designers, examining bodies. These people have a say in our success or failure as teachers. It all depends on how well or poorly these people discharge their responsibilities. We may work hard, others may not, and failure will result. This is not the only problem. Who can with certainty say what success or failure really is? I may not accept others’ descriptions and others may not accept mine. While I may think I am a failure, others may think I am a success. There are two problems then: the knowledge that we may not achieve success in our teaching. The difficulty in deciding the definitions of success and failure that are acceptable to all. As a result, we might lose heart, we might give in, and we might become mechanical. But these shouldn’t happen. Because we accepted a commitment when we entered the teaching profession. The commitment is an implicit one and a moral one, too. Whatever the odds, we must fulfill our commitment by teaching to the very best of our abilities without worrying about the results of our actions and without allowing this worry to bring down our level of performance.
Learning experience 3
It was autumn again,/ October,/ his sixth year in the monastery./ The ruddy glow of
sunset /tinted the brilliant maples on the hill./ He heard the rattle/ of the serving hatch,
then the familiar scrape and thump of a cup and bowl/ being set on the shelf/ beside his
5 He glanced toward the tiny hole/ at the base of the workman wall/ where Stuart Little
suddenly appeared. /The mouse sat on his haunches,/ raising its forearms /to brush his
All you need /is a knife, fork and bib,/ Drew silently joked,/ amused at/ how the rattle of
the serving hatch/ had become Stuart Little’s dinner bell./
10 The mouse scurried over/ as Drew brought the meal/ to the workbench./ Bread and
water;/ another fast-day./ His stomach rumbling,/ he noticed Stuart/ trying to climb up his
robe, /and with a sigh of feigned disgust,/ he tore a piece of bread,/ tossing it down to the
mouse. /He sat at the bench and bowed his head, /pressing his hands together praying. /
You know, Stuart, /he thought as he finished, /you’re getting greedy./ I ought to make
15 you wait to eat/ till grace is finished./ A little religion/ wouldn’t hurt you./ How would y
you feel about that, huh?/
He glanced toward the mouse on the floor./
And frowned./ The mouse lay on its side,/ unmoving./ Drew stared in surprise,/ not
moving either./ His chest tensed./ Shocked,/ he held his breath,/ then blinked and
20 inhaling slowly,/ bent down to touch Stuart’s side./
It remained inert./
Drew gently nudged it,/ feeling the soft sleek fur,/ but got no response./ His throat seemed lined with sand./ As he swallowed painfully,/ he picked Stuart up./ The mouse lay still in his palm./ It weighed almost nothing./ But the weight was dead./
25 Drew’s stomach felt cold./ In dismay,/ he shook his head, baffled./ A minute ago,/ the mouse had practically been dancing for its supper./
Was it old age, he wondered./ A heart attack?/ Or a stroke?/ He didn’t know much about mice,/ but he vaguely recalled having read somewhere that they didn’t live long./ A year or two./
But that was in the wild,/ exposed to predators,/ disease,/ and cold./ What about here, in 30 the cell?/ He strained to think,/ telling himself that even with warmth and good care,/
Stuart Little had been bound to die./ There wasn’t any way to know how old it had been/
when it showed up last autumn,/ but in human terms/ by now it might have been ninety./
I shouldn’t be surprised./ By feeding it,/ I merely postponed.../ If it hadn’t died today.../
35 He bit his lip, grieving/ as he set the small corpse back on the floor./ And felt guilty
because he grieved./ A Carthusian was supposed to shut all worldly distractions./ God
alone mattered./ The mouse had been temptation that he should have resisted./ Now God
was punishing him,/ teaching him why he shouldn’t become infatuated with transitory
Drew shuddered./ No. I wouldn’t change anything./ The mouse was fun to have around./
I’m glad I took care of it./
His eyes stung,/ making him blink repeatedly/ as stared down at his lifeless friend./
Terrible thoughts occurred to him./ What should he do with the body?/ For sure,/ he
45 wasn’t going to have a custodian brother dispose of it,/ perhaps even dump it in the
trash./ The mouse deserved better./ The dignity of burial./
But where?/ Through misted vision,/ he glanced toward his workroom window./ Sunset
had turned to dusk,/ casting his garden into shadow./
A cedar bush grew in a corner of the wall./ Yes, Drew thought./ He’d bury Stuart Little
50 beneath the shrub./ An evergreen,/ it lived all year./ Even in winter,/ its color would be a
His throat felt swollen,/ aching each time he swallowed./ Thirsty, he reached for his cup of water,/ raised it toward his lips,/ glanced past it toward the thick slab of bread in his bowl./
And paused. /
55 His spine began to tingle. /
He peered down at the bread on the floor,/ the chunk he’d thrown to Stuart Little./ He
stared at the water in the cup he held./ And slowly,/ cautiously,/ making sure that no
liquid spilled over the top, / he eased the container back down on the table. /
Reflexively,/ he wiped his hands on the front of his robe. /
60 No, he thought./ It couldn’t be./
But what if you’re not imagining?/
His suspicion filled him with shame./ In his sixth stern year of penance,/ did he still
retain the habit of thinking as he had in his former life?/ Had his training been that
65 Were his instincts that resistant to change?/
But just supposing./ You know,/ for the sake of argument./ What kind might it be?/ Did it
kill on contact?/
Tensing,/ he stared at his hands./ No, he ‘d touched the mouse./ And the bread./ Just a
minute ago./ But the mouse had died quickly./ In the time Drew had taken to close his
70 eyes and say grace./ If it’s poison and it kills on contact,/ even with my greater size,/ I
ought to be dead, too./
All right, then,/ it had to be ingested./ (You’ve got to stop thinking this way.)/
And it’s powerful. / Almost instantaneous.
75 Assuming it’s poison./
Of course, just assuming./ After all, it’s still possible that Stuart Little died from natural
causes./ (But what would have you thought six years ago?)/
He struggled to repress his terrible memories./ Now God’s testing me again./ He’s using
this death to learn if I’ve truly purged myself./ A man of detachment would never think 80 like this./ (But in the old days../. Yes?/ you thought this way all the time./)
He narrowed his vision till all he saw was the unmoving mouse on the floor./ Slowly,/
frowning so hard he felt the beginnings of a headache,/ he raised his eyes toward the
serving hatch beside his door. /
The hatch was closed./ But beyond was a corridor./ (No, it makes no sense./ Not HERE,/ 85 not NOW!/ Who?/ Why?/)
Besides, he was merely guessing./ The only way to know for sure if the bread had been
poisoned was to.../
Taste it?/ Hardly./
Have it tested?/ That would take too long./
90 But there was another way./ He could investigate the monastery./ He stiffened with doubt./
The notion repelled him./
But under the circumstances.../
He stared at the door./ In the six years he’d been here,/ he’d left his quarters seldom,/ only
to convene with the other monks for mandatory communal rituals./ Those ventures outside
95 had been keenly disturbing to him,. nerve-racking intrusions on his peace of mind./
But under the circumstances.../
He wiped his sweaty lip./ His years of disciplined regimen told him to wait a short while
longer/ until he normally left for vespers./ Yes./ The decision calmed him./ Avoiding
extremes,/ it appealed to his common sense./
100 The vespers bell stayed silent,/ but in rhythm with his daily cycle,/ he knew that it should
have struck by now./ He told himself that the mouse’s death had disturbed his
judgement./ Time was passing with exaggerated slowness,/ that was all./
He counted to one hundred./ Waited./ Started to count again.. And stopped./
With a painful sign,/ he repressed his inhibitions,/ broke six years of habit,/ and opened 105 the door.
[an excerpt from The Fraternity of the Stone by David Morrell, New English Library 1987)
Learning experience 4
The manner in which Stuart Little died leads Drew to thinking that someone tried to kill him with poison in the bread.
Learning experience 5
The quick death of Stuart Little makes Drew wonder about the cause of death. He feels neither old age or heart attack or stroke could’ve killed the mouse. He believes that there could be poison in the bread that was meant for him that killed Stuart. The only to find out why someone wished him dead was to investigate the monastery and so he decides to step out of his cell.
Learning experience 6
Stuart Little died from natural causes
Stuart Little may have been old enough to die. Or it could’ve died from heart attack or stroke.
It’s possible that Stuart’s death was a natural one.
One moment Stuart was alive, the next moment he was dead. Such quick death could’ve been caused by poison in the bread.
If it was poison in the bread that killed Stuart, there could be poison in the water, too. So Drew didn’t drink water though he was thirsty. He’d touched Stuart and hasn’t died, so it wasn’t poison that killed on contact. It had to be ingested into something like bread for instance. And it had to be a powerful one because Stuart died in the time Drew said his prayers. All this was mere guessing on Drew’s part. To know for certain, he had to investigate the monastery and find evidence for his assumption.
Drew could conclude about Stuart’s death and whether someone tried to kill him by injecting poison in the bread only by stepping out of his cell and look for evidence in the monastery.
Learning experience 1
The speaker has to decide the future with the other person
Key words: cross-roads, leave or come, lingered, doubts, love, face, road
Learning experience 2
i. your teacher will help if necessary
ii. ‘doubt’ is compared to ‘darkness’, ‘love’ to ‘lamp’ and ‘road’ to ‘leave or come’
contrast is between ‘darkness’ and the light the ‘lamp’ provides
iii. The problem is to continue or discontinue the journey of life with the beloved
Yes, it is solved. The solution is the speaker to go with the beloved.
Learning experience 3
Keyword implied meaning
a. crossroads a very important moment in the speaker’s life when the
person has to take a decision that will affect his future life
and someone else’s, too.
b. leave or come It’s time for the speaker to take a decision
c. lingered The speaker mulled over the problems deciding one way or
the other could cause for both the people involved
d. doubts the speaker had doubts about the happiness of the union or
sadness resulting from separation
e. love The speaker’s partner’s facial expression showed the way
f. face The partner’s face provided the solution
g. road indicates the partner’s help
ii. The pronouns refer to the speaker and the partner. ‘We’ refers to both the speaker and the partner, ‘I’ to the speaker and ‘you’, to the partner. The speaker uses ‘we’ to show that they have come to a critical stage in their lives, ‘I’ to say the responsibility of taking a decision lies with the speaker, ‘you’ to show the partner’s readiness to travel with the speaker.
The speaker uses ‘and’ to indicate the flow and sequence of thoughts, and ‘but’ to contrast the confusion in the mind of the speaker with the clarity in the mind of the partner.
i. In all probability the ‘I’ refers to the man because generally speaking women are expressive of their emotions than men.
ii. The problem could’ve arisen from any of the several aspects: status difference, opposition from the man’s family, difference in religion, nationality or race.
iii. Hope you enjoyed the poem. What aspect of the poem did you enjoy? If you didn’t enjoy the poem can you say why?
You state your personal reasons and the logic
iv. Use a dictionary to know what ‘mesh’ means to decide the appropriateness of the title.
Come away, divide, difference, faithful, safe, see, dissolve, dark, merge, join, unchallenged harmony
i. avoidance of criticism and scrutiny of the public (and the relatives)
b. The speaker in poem one is at a critical stage and has to make a decision whereas the speaker is only keen on avoiding the glares of the public and has thus not come to a phase where a decision needs to be made.
ii. a. Staying away from the questioning looks and shutting out the world by seeking asylum in the living quarters.
b. The speaker in the second poem reacts to the moment and seeks only temporary solution whereas the speaker in the first has to make a permanent decision.
iii. a. ‘Streets’ and ‘show windows’ stand for ‘light’ which highlights the differences between the speaker and the partner. ‘grey’ is akin to ‘white’ aka ‘light’ and ‘dark’ is akin to ‘black’.
b. In ‘The Mesh’ ‘darkness’ identifies ‘doubts’ and a clash of thought in the mind of the speaker and ‘light’ points to the selfless love the partner has for the speaker. In ‘Come away, my love’, ‘light’ refers to the harm the speaker experiences and ‘darkness’, to the comfort the speaker experiences.
i. ‘mankind eyes divide’ and ‘show windows reflect our differences’
ii. It’s an excellent metaphor; ‘faith’ always accepts things as they are and doesn’t question them. In the room, there’s safety because there’s no one else except the speaker and the partner, and they are faithful to each other.
iii. In the streets, the pair is not alone whereas in the room they are by themselves so the speaker sees only the partner and none else in the room.
iv. ‘divide’, difference’, ‘dark’ and ‘grey’
v. The speaker is probably a Negro and the parter is a White.
vi. The piano refers to the merged and entwined bodies and as the bodies press and move they produce a oneness that is heard when the piano provides excellent music coming out of the fingers pressing the keys.
The teacher may help, if necessary.
Note about the writers of the two poems:
‘The Mesh’ is written by Kwesi Brew, a poet from Ghana (north West Africa). This brief but subtle poem is one of the frequently anthologised poems of Kwesi Brew. In his collection ‘The Shadows of Laughter’, it occurs in the section subtitled ‘Today we look at each other’.
‘Come away, my love’ is written Joseph Kariyuki, a Kenyan poet (north East Africa).
You can also enjoy these great writers:
Wole Soyinka (who won Nobel Prize for literature in 1986)
South African writer
Peter Abrahams (his memoir: Tell Freedom)
novels: The Path of Thunder (1948), A Wreath for Udomo (1956), A Night of Their Own (1965)