People often ask us what it’s like to participate in Books@Work. From time-to-time we share the link to a short story with some guiding questions or reflections on how the text was used in a Books@Work seminar. Our hope is that by sharing texts with readers of The Notebook, we will expand the impact of our program beyond those who participate in Books@Work seminars. Former Books@Work Curriculum Director and professor Paul Jaussen invites you to take a closer look at a short story by Mark Twain in this post. You can also take a look at other “texts at work” here.
Many Americans first encounter Mark Twain in middle school or high school. In that context, students read for the purpose of fulfilling an assignment, often with a zealous teacher looking over their shoulders. But what happens when you return to one of these high school authors with adult eyes? What might you see?
Last spring, participants in the Books@Work program at the Maple Heights City Schools did exactly that, reading Twain’s “The £1,000,000 Bank Note” with their co-workers. One participant, reflecting on her high school experience with the story, pointed out that she “didn’t have a clue what it was about” and was only reading because she “had to do a book report on it.” She compared this to a child dancing to her parent’s music without really understanding the words, only to discover, as an adult, what the song was really about.
We offer Twain’s story of wealth, poverty and hope as our latest “text at work.” See what it is like to experience Twain – or some other common high school author – with adult eyes, and tell us what you discover.
Image: Photograph of Mark Twain, Underwood & Underwood, 1907, Library of Congress [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons