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Teaching with Commonplace Books

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Here is an interesting blog post on teaching with commonplace books. I’ve recently discovered the idea of a commonplace book (despite it being around for centuries). It seems that I have been keeping a variation for years. Anyway, this is a wonderful read and encouraging to think that teachers are being this creative with teaching!

This Gaudy Gilded Stage

This quarter I’m requiring the students in my eighteenth-century literature class to maintain a commonplace book. A commonplace book is a book into which you copy passages from your reading that you would like to keep on hand for reference, passages that are striking for their insight, their style, their beauty, their humor, or their embodiment of something significant.

Our system of commonplacing is based on a 1799 “improvement” to John Locke‘s method for indexing a commonplace book. As this 1799 text reads,

The man who reads, and neglects to note down the essence of what he has read; the man or woman who sees, and omits to record what he has seen; the man who thinks, and fails to treasure up his thoughts in some place, where may readily find them for use at any future period; will often have occasion to regret an omission, which such a…

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One thought on “Teaching with Commonplace Books

  1. Melissa, Thank you for sharing on Riley’s Smile… Keeping a Commonplace book is new to me, but I certainly need one.


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