The great universal experience of life


Alert Janeite Lisa sent along a link to a fantastic opinion piece called “Why Jane Austen Matters,” written by a high school teacher with many disadvantaged students.

For the past two weeks Andrea’s class has been finishing up our study of the Romantic writers in England and preparing to tackle the Victorians. As a bridge between the two eras we have watched “Sense and Sensibility” and “Pride and Prejudice,” two films based on Jane Austen novels.

The 21 girls and eight boys that make up this general level English class have responded with an enthusiasm that has made our class discussions and their essays comparing the two novels a joy. They entered and left the classroom every day talking about the characters as if they were old acquaintances.

“Marianne is going to get hurt,” they worried.

“Willoughby doesn’t know what true love is,” they decided.

More important, my students have recognized themselves in novels that at first glance might seem foreign to their experience.

We keep saying it: Society changes. People do not. Do read the article, and if your cockles aren’t warmed then they are incapable of it.