I have been teaching for thirty years. It is a strange thing to assert–thirty years. In that time I have discovered one reality of all great things.
What works takes work!
People are always looking for the easy way to do things, myself included. I have decided that is the wrong goal. I will no longer pursue the easy way to do things. I am going to chase the efficient way to do things. I don’t mean that I will expect anything to be easier, but I do think things can be better, can be improved, and that’s now my goal.
I asked my students to write a “working thesis” for each of the capstone essays that they are writing in my class. Several of them, delights that they are, gave me something. I now give them something back. I list here the theses (slightly revised) of each of my students who submitted one for review. I believe they have promise, and I look forward to reading the essays that grow from them. Here they are:
The people who rise up and become leaders for the French Revolution see their own actions a completely justified.
In A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens shows that at one point or another everyone must sacrifice what he or she loves.
In A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens explores how economies, particularly of France and Britain, are affected by the American Revolution and French Revolution.
Against the backdrop of Revolution, Dickens explores the dynamic nature of familial relationships, and shows how all power struggles are linked to specific families.
Dickens uses Jerry Cruncher, a humorous character, to lampoon the malicious deeds and morbid practices common in British Victorian culture.
Dickens exposes the traps inherent in monarchy and absolute power and how people suffer under this absolute power.
You will notice that all of these call for some research and some reading. I like that. I also like that they all refer to Dickens. See…that’s the essential part of this paper, that it comes from and reflects on a major work of an important author, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. The next step will be to visit with these students about their research and their reading, to give them suggestions about what might work best for them. To try my best to make the hard work a pleasure, an efficient pleasure.
Writing well involves work. I do not mind sweating if I get great products. I’m hoping my students are ready to embrace the one truth of all worthwhile endeavors:
What works takes work.
Excellent teachers get excellent results!
Working Thesis: In A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens shows that at one point or another everyone must risk sacrificing what he or she loves most.
Quote: “For you, and for any dear to you, I would do anything. If my career were of that better kind that there was any opportunity or capacity of sacrifice in it, I would embrace any sacrifice for you and for those dear to you. Try to hold me in your mind, at some quiet times, as ardent and sincere in this one thing. The time will come, the time will not be long in coming, when new ties will be formed about you–ties that will bind you yet more tenderly and strongly to the home you so adorn–the dearest ties that will ever grace and gladden you. O Miss Manette, when the little picture of a happy father’s face looks up in yours, when you see your own bright beauty springing up anew at your feet, think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you!” (Dickens 157).
Yep. This is an amazing quote to go with your thesis. Great choice!
Working Thesis: Dickens uses Jerry Cruncher, a humorous character, to lampoon the malicious deeds and morbid practices common in British Victorian culture.
“Dickens seeks through his fiction to impose social discipline on his readers” (Goodheart 50).
“caricature is one of these resources but also an especially significant one because its widespread use is symptomatic of a satirical attitude to the self which is tellingly characteristic of contemporary culture” (Gregson 4).