What is the value of using the Bard Blitz in class? The Bard Blitz is important and beneficial because it:
- Shows students through practical experience that texts by literary artists deserve and repay unhurried, detailed attention by any reader;
- Gives students authority as readers and interpreters of texts as they explore the words and ideas and develop an original thesis about what they read;
- Trains students in connecting close reading with thesis building or evidence gathering;
- Equips students to conduct, open-ended, exploratory and reflective learning, and affirms the value of this kind of learning;
- Rejects the spoon-feeding of students with an instant explanation of a text and with an approved or predetermined interpretation.
The Bard Blitz is primarily about the process of learning rather than the development of an assessable ‘product’. Students and teachers should enjoy collaborative and individual learning that is explorative and experiential. Success is judged not on the production of a final work; instead, success depends on encouraging and affirming the value of each student’s thoughtful engagement in each stage. The students’ experience of the Bard Blitz should equip them with a simple and repeatable method for getting to know a text, clarifying its meaning precisely, developing ideas in response to it, and arranging one’s concepts into a line of argument backed up by textual evidence. However, one never knows exactly what students learn from the tasks educators set them. It may be that one student learns only to have confidence in her interpretive authority, while another learns only how to examine a text closely and translate it into meaningful sentences, and a third learns only that he need not be anxious in initially approaching a strange text because playing with weird words is fun. These are fine outcomes.
Students should come away from the Bard Blitz with a sense that:
- literary art is beautiful, meaningful and complex;
- they are able to explore, comprehend and interpret literary art;
- their interpretation is personal, evidence-based and valuable.