Symbols | Empowering English Grade 7 I Important preparation for High School Poetry & Comprehension

Hello everyone Usha Pandit from ‘The
Mindsprings English Teacher’. Today I have got you a lesson called symbols and
is from the ‘Empowering English’ book seven so by symbols why should we have a
chapter called symbols you never find them in any book
right but it’s very important for children to learn symbols properly
because as you go into the higher classes poetry, short stories, texts, drama
all of this these contain symbols by the truckloads so people talk in metaphors
people talk in symbols and if children are not used to reading symbols they’re
going to have a rough time with those texts the problem with these things is
if you start explaining them they lose their charm so you need to teach them at
the right age when children are still curious when children are still
fascinated they are ready to explore the range of symbols that there are and
allow them to crystallize some of these concepts so that when they meet them in
a higher class where they are already overloaded with a lot of work the symbol
is almost instinctive understanding so that is why I do it in grade 7 anything
that is done in the books must be revisited must be used at grade 8 and
then 9 and 10 and in those classes they will naturally occur in poetry and in
texts and in stories you will find them so it will be natural so we need
to start at least in grade 7 looking at symbols quite seriously and it’s very
very important unless we break down certain achievement parameters or
certain success parameters that we expect children to have in the higher
classes into their rudimentary skills and processes in the lower classes and
practice them they are not going to be competent it’s not going to happen
overnight and it’s really really hard and very very trying on that senior
school teacher to do all of this at once so therefore the chapter on symbols so
what do we do. So we are looking at symbols one of the things we’re children
need to know is that symbols are always a representation of a very big idea or
something that is really so large that it cannot be contained in the text or in
the poem so the poem there is a small tiny little piece of paper and it’s got
all these little words 40 words 50 60 words written in it right
those words are hardly capable of moving us in to cosmic spaces into divine
spaces or into spaces where we marvel at maybe an idea of let us say something
like God such a big idea and how do you bring this large idea to children in the
form of a tiny little poem which has got 40 words and sometimes symbol is not
even a 40 word the symbol is one word in those 40 words or three words in those
40 words that sit together and create this magic right so therefore it’s the
big idea and it is represented in those small words this something children need
to know so let’s look at one symbol which you can do
with them so that they understand how it works and then you can go on to the rest
so if you take a symbol like the cross right
it’s easy to draw draw cross and then do a little mind map around it so what are
the connotations of this cross so one of the most common ones is the Christian
cross isn’t it Christ and Jesus Christ and if you further connote Jesus Christ
what does he stand for so if you make Jesus himself a symbol what does he
symbolize and you must get all these abstract words abstract nouns like
sacrifice and grace and forgiveness and eternal life all of this is what Jesus
stands for and when the cross stands for Jesus Christ then the cross this that
word cross that comes in takes on all the hues and all the flavors of the
cross and brings it to the reader that’s what a symbol does but there are others
it’s not just a Christian symbol so if you look for example at the Red Cross
that’s got nothing really to do I mean you can have a sort of a connection that
you can make but the red cross is about hospitals and about nursing and it’s
about healing and care and all of that positive symbol so you look at some of
those you look at positive symbols and you also look at you look at positive
connotations and you look at negative connotations so that’s still positive
but if you have a cross on every door that someone put in order to mark them
for death so those were the doors that were marked and they would be killed by
the flood so if you have a fable like that or a story or a myth like that then
that mark for depth becomes a negative connotation for the Cross then you have
you have angry she was cross with me right wrong
cross mark across you mark them wrong and then you have the vampire killer
cross so the cross is supposed to be the garlic and the cross and stuff like that
it’s supposed to destroy vampires instantly so there is a
magical quality about the cross layer and then you have bear the cross if you
are bearing a cross you are bearing a burden and if you cross the floor then
you are changing parties like we have right now
politicians are crossing the floor they’re going over to the other party
and then you have crossroads of life so you stand at the crossroads of life and
you wonder which way should I go should I take up engineering or should I
take up medicine should I marry this girl or that girl you are at Crossroads
so there is a confusion there there is a choice to be made
so that’s crossroads and then you have to go against someone to cross somebody
you say don’t cross me meaning I can be pretty harmful do not cross me don’t go
against me so that’s what it means so you put so many meanings for this cross
and I’m sure there are more if you actually think if you delve into it if
you go and look into a thesaurus or you go and look into you search the internet
you’re likely to get more on this cross so one word cross now you need to take
all the positives and negatives and ask yourself which one fits my poem isn’t it
but when I come across the word cross I am not likely to take it at face value
which is just a cross or just Christian I don’t have to take it at at just a
simple level I can take it at a much deeper level if I can connote it in my
head so that’s the cross let’s see what the book says so the book says symbols
and it tells you that it’s about understanding the purpose of symbols
learning about types of symbols and identifying and categorizing symbols so
it’s a pretty serious lesson on symbols it’s not just mind mapping a word it’s
also looking at how can I mind map all my books about are about how to how do I
do this how do I write how do I think about an idea how do I ID. It’s
all about the how all teaching is about how and if you just give tasks
then you are asking them to do certain things without showing them the house
and that is likely to be going against all your success criteria so remember
that so here we are saying that you identify categories and symbols the
symbol is a representation usually of an object that stands for a larger set of
ideas maybe so an idea can be democracy and an idea can be imprisonment,
incarceration a lot of you can have the all those big ideas sitting of fellows
whole philosophies can sit as ideas and be represented in the form of a symbol
if you draw a swastika a Nazi swastika then it has huge negative connotations
but if you draw it the way the Hindus draw it then it becomes auspicious and
it becomes all things that are good and therefore you have cultural connotations
that are attached to symbols. So a symbol is a representation layers of ideas and
meanings a symbol is a simple way of suggesting a complex set of meanings by
relying on associations as I said connotations or associations to that
word that they create in the mind so let’s take an animal symbolism so simple
words like dog and lime now animals are also symbol if you look at that I put
animals there now all those things that I’ve put in little ovals around the
board are all exercises that you could give children to do as symbols they can
do it in groups they can do it by themselves just single ones and bring it
back to share there are several ways in which you can do these lessons you can
economize on time you don’t have to give all of them to all the students and
burden all of them so that they’re sitting and burning the midnight oil
trying to do your homework you really need
to share work share the tasks and then share the learning both okay so if you
look at dog and lion the common Association the dog and lion are two
different animals they map both mammals and the lion is more powerful than the
dogs very simple as I said on the surface personal associations so that’s
another category. One is a common Association the other is a personal
association. Personal association what you feel about it the dog is a domestic
animal its loyal its obedient. Lion is the king of the jungle all these all the
stuff that you’ve heard around you that becomes part of it the lion is
associated with what so you look at also associations you look at majesty and you
look at dignity and you look at respect and pride and and the man of the house
all those kind of macho images that are attached to the line you look at that
also. So these categories give you a trigger to start looking at symbols
from certain prisms or certain points of view that aid the process of getting
your symbols done very quickly and very effectively then you have a linguistic
and literary association so now this will be the usage of dog and lion in
language so when you say he’s a dog you being derogatory aren’t you
but if you say faithful like a dog then you’re being complimentary similarly the
lion has a very high place but then the lion is also a predator and you have all
those associations that are there that works around a dog’s life
dog’s day so all of these proverbs and idioms and literary associations that
are associated with certain animals sometimes they are very strong those
associations those you bring into play or you have stories like the dog in the
mouse I mean sorry the dog and the bone and the lion and the mouse you have
stories like that as that you’ve done as children that
influence the way you start thinking in terms of animals you have cultural
associations so different symbols may have quite different messages so in
Britain for example dogs represent devotion and faithfulness in Islamic
culture dogs represent impurity the snake is Satan for the Christian and is
worshipped as ‘Nagdev’ in India the dragon is auspicious and it’s a water
dragon for the Chinese and it’s a fire dragon and it’s a monster for the West
so culturally the simplest of things have different meanings and connotations
and they carry a certain amount of load which we must be aware of okay then you
look at proverbs you look at it from the prism of proverbs you’ll get when this
is applied to human life in a proverb like better to be a living dog than a
dead line so if you look at that then you’re like wow you know now that has
its own spin isn’t it you may agree or may not agree but that’s a proverb that is that
is fed to you and you go you live by it very often the lion and the dog becomes
symbols that carry all the qualities of all that we’ve discussed above so this
is what we do so you can have a mythological, a
religious connotation when you say culture it is everything okay it’s the
kind of stuff that you have in songs in movies in books all of these come to
bear on words or symbols whenever you do poetry this becomes so so critical so
the best critical appreciations are those that have interpreted symbols in
all its richness and being able to present it to the examiner those are the
ones that carry away your A+ grades okay and then you come to the task now
there’s a matrix it’s been given to you on the other side
so it’s got a little like a little column and then it’s got all the symbols
that I’ve written there you got it there and then it says common personal
literary and cultural you can add more or you can take away the personal you
can could give it another name it doesn’t matter don’t sweat the small
stuff there’s a tendency to treat it like the Bible treat it like a
convenience a book a task is only as good as how much children understand and
how well they do it so you want to change the parameters a little bit go
ahead but the important thing is that they start exploring some of these so if
you look at this you see the Rose stands for love and the skull stands for death
just very simply if you ask if you put it on the board and yours they’ll give
me one word just one word nothing else so you don’t have to explore everything
like this this they can do at home they can do an inquiry they can sit together
and work it they can do many things but if you in class if you’re closing up
this lesson you just ask them for one word so scales justice planet son life
animals let us say vulture is a bird of carrion isn’t it so the book the vulture
is literally someone who feeds on carcasses and therefore a scavenger a
serpent as I said can be good or bad symbols we’ve done that a dove is always
peace planets have their own so all the astrology that we have is based on the
symbolism of of planets of Mars being a warring planet and Saturn giving you in
luck and Mercury giving you travel and the rest of it and then you have birds
different bird the eagle is very different from the crow and you have
symbolism in those the Raven for example after the poet Poe wrote about the Raven
the Raven has a very special place in all people who have done some
literature the fish for example is a very very religious symbol right the
biblical symbol of the fish is very big if you look at people from West Bengal
they have a very strong cultural association with the fish
similarly mirror the mirror has got literary associations if you look at
Sylvia Plath’s mirror you have if you look at stories like The Great Gatsby or
you look at stories like you’ve got so many stories with mirrors I mean I can’t
remember the name of that story it was about a dwarf who sees himself in the
mirror it was a very very powerful story so mirrors are powerful symbols because
they reflect or are just Cinderella not Cinderella what’s the name snow-white
mirror mirror on the wall tell me who is the fairest of them all is something
that we started so mirrors have a fascination right and the broken mirror
the superstition behind it lamb christian blake seasons. Seasons are
strong symbols isn’t it winter has depth and spring as a reawakening and summer
as a season of fruitfulness a ripe and rich and and literally sensuous right
and then you have shapes. Shapes are supposed to be very powerful symbols so
from the heart shape that tells you of love to the most intricate metaphysical
shapes or the other shapes which the tantrics use so you’ve got very very
strong indian connotations that are embedded in our culture and then you
have literature and then you have geographical you know variations of
symbols so it’s an extremely rich lesson it promotes a lot of thinking it
promotes a lot of understanding by of getting children to start connecting
and linking various people and various cultures and see how they how ideas
interact and how ideas sometimes very blindly influence perspectives so
symbols is a great lesson I’ve always enjoyed doing it the beauty is that you
can practice it throughout after that after that becomes so easy you just give
it to them and say find the symbols and they are eager to find them right so I
hope you enjoyed this lesson from Empowering English grade 7 that
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