David Szostak has been a 6th Grade Tutor at the Saint Thomas Aquinas Tutorial in Maryland while pursing a doctorate in Theology at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Washington, DC.
My literature final exam is formatted differently, but because the students don’t know they are being tested, they don’t act like it is a test. I require each of the students to vote for their favorite protagonist and most despised antagonist from the fictional books we have read from the year and to support this choice with examples from the text. I arrange the protagonists into a series of brackets which compares the characters with each other. Before the students vote anonymously for who advances in the tournament, they debate which character was better. Each of the students who present passionate arguments on behalf of one character over another demonstrate broad comprehension of the books we have read and present this to the class using logic and rhetoric.
These tournaments are even more raucous than the game show quizzes. I can guarantee that my students aren’t likely to forget the match between Digory from The Magician’s Nephew and Gilgamesh. Based on arguments by the boys in my class, the students voted that Gilgamesh was far superior to Digory due to his ability to expertly wield large weapons. The elimination of Digory from the tournament left the girl who presented him as her favorite character quite dismayed.