In other news: I'm also concerned about yet another reading list. I'm buried in so much paperwork nowadays I ought to just lock myself up. But. A group of pastors has asked me to conduct an informal year-long literature seminar/reading group for their organization. I'm not a member of their church (or churches), but some of these pastors have been close family friends for years, and I once taught a series of English tutorial classes for adult church members a few years back, so I couldn't say no. This time, the project will focus exclusively on pastors within the province who, aside from their local constituencies, are also active in international missions. We've had several discussions about the nature of pastoral education in the Philippines--especially in the more obscure and poorer churches--and the pastors I talked to are very critical of its shortcomings. Their program is actually a combination of social work, local evangelization, and international missions, with particular focus on training missionaries. However, they don't think that they can reach out to as many people as they want to if they will not attempt to go beyond their admittedly parochial orientation with regard to secular matters. So to address this perceived defect, they decided that one of the first steps they need to take is, quite simply, to broaden/update their education. Most of them are college graduates but given the fact that--save for the bigger and better-funded universities--college education in the Philippines, especially in colleges outside Manila, is not exactly what you would call cosmopolitan, that's not saying a lot.
Anyhow, they can't afford to go to special classes in college (and the community college doesn't offer any such course) so they settled on me, perhaps because seeing me with my nose perpetually buried in a book from childhood on has led them to think that I might actually be something of an expert in haha literary (i.e., reading) matters. Another, more experienced teacher is taking over the 'technical' English class. I would much rather be teaching the use of subjunctives since you have little room--latitude, actually--for mistakes, you just follow what the workbook says. But compiling a reading list? and conducting a literature seminar for pastors? is another matter altogether. I won't deny that the project interests me, but then I've always had a stupid weakness for uh idiosycratic projects. (And I didn't really think of my schedule when I agreed, my mother is going to kill me.)
I've been turning over the concept of the reading list for days. I can always give a diagnostic test so I can relativize the list to the pastors' reading comprehension level in English and so on, but that's just, I dunno, sort of counter-productive? Even given the fact that they've admitted that the only things they actually read in any depth are the Bible and the newspaper, I don't see how they can radically 'update' their literary horizons with a facetious sampling of what might be classified as easy reading material (you know, stuff straight out of high school textbooks). It's not as if their English is bad, only that they've never really tried to cultivate it or to improve their fluency in the language through reading. Besides, they said that they wanted to learn new things so that they'll have a wider range of sources to draw from when confronted with, say, a Sikh who has read Thucydides and Jane Austen.