In The Sign of The Beaver, what made Matt change his approach to teaching Attean to read in Chapter 8?    

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Chapter 8, the one thing that makes Matt change his approach to teaching Attean is that his original method fails to interest the Indian boy. Matt initially begins the English lessons by teaching Attean the letters of the alphabet. He starts with the letter 'A' and asks Attean to pick out all the letters 'A' in the book Robinson Crusoe.

Since Matt has told Attean that the letter 'A' is present in the word 'arm,' Attean thinks that every 'A' stands for the word; as a consequence, he finds it ludicrous that the word 'arm' should be present throughout the book. Of course, this isn't the case, but Attean's lack of knowledge causes him to come to this conclusion. It is after this unfortunate first lesson that Matt decides to change the way he teaches Attean to read. In Chapter 8, he tries to make it clear to Attean that reading is about enjoying stories.

Cognizant of his own misadventures when he learned how to read, Matt decides to read to Attean the most interesting sections of Robinson Crusoe. At first, he is discouraged when Attean shows little emotion during the reading; eventually, Attean surprises Matt when he asks pertinent questions about key points of the story. The chapter ends with Matt coming to the realization that he must try to understand Attean's worldview before he can be successful in teaching him.


Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial