In talking about the items and stories that we had just shared in class, the students demonstrated that they could recognize and appreciate the value of symbols in their everyday lives. They knew how to do this. The poignantly personal nature of the items that were brought to class and of the stories that were told about them allowed students to see what each other valued and to subsequently see each other in more depth.
Once students connected the object as a symbol in their everyday lives, the discussion moved to symbols in academic literary pieces. It was easy to connect the process of identifying the symbolism in these personal items to that of identifying and analyzing symbols in literature and various other media:
As we explored the layers of meaning and significance that each special item had, it became evident how symbolic they each were. We discussed how the analysis of that symbolic meaning enhanced our perceptions and understandings. The link was then made to the analysis of symbols in literature and how that too served to enhance our intellectual and emotional understanding of a piece of text and the human issues that it raises (Field notes, November 2004).
The data refers to the other instances where students applied the understanding of symbols and symbolism to other media. The following is a description of my observations after the class watched a video:
As a follow-up, today we watched the wonderful National Film Board short called Neighbours (Norman McLaren, 1991) (8minutes). There are no spoken words in the video. The message of it is VERY clear. We had a WONDERFUL class discussion about the symbols in this powerful little (old) video and the class was vibrant and completely successful in finding 093640490586503030 symbols and explaining them. I am not saying that they may not have been able to do that had I NOT done the narrative the day before but…(E-mail to RiPP team members, September 2004).