Page: 279-294 Author: VALA, J. Key words: readership, reception of the text, understanding of the text, literary education, reader
Goals – The study is a response to current debate on the content and overall conception of literary education at basic (primary) schools. The main goal is to analyse the reader reception of eight different literary extracts by pupils in the ninth year of basic school, then to assess differences in their reactions and engagement with the text and to evaluate the suitability of the texts for the age-group concerned (approx. 15 years old).
Methods – In the quantitative part of the research project we used the method of semantic differential and using an assessment scale adjusted and tested by factor analysis we analysed the reader experiences of 203 respondents from the point of view of three factors: comprehensibility, evaluation and appeal. We carried out the qualitative part of the survey using focus groups. On the basis of audio recordings we identified how pupils reacted to individual texts and how they thought/spoke about them..
Results – From the reactions of the pupils it emerged that the difficult and for them incomprehensible language made it impossible for them to receive the semantic meaning of several literary works included in readers (J. W. Goethe: Faust, Comenius, The Labyrinth of theWorld and the Paradise of the Heart). They cannot get to the message and ideas through the text itself. The pupils expressed appreciation above all of texts that they are capable of relating to their own lives and today’s world.
Conclusions – The results of the survey can serve as basic information useful for discussion on innovation of the content of teaching and its reform in the direction of the needs and capabilities of pupils. If pupils encounter texts that are within the limits of their level of understanding, we can also develop their basis of knowledge of the world, and not only in relation to literary history and theory. It is desirable and useful to influence children’s reading skills and scope in the direction of higher quality, but at the same tim we must not lose contact with their basic understanding, for otherwise our teaching will lose communicative power and authenticity and will become merely formal..