Senior English at Another Course to College, with Mr. Comeau

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Senior English - World Literature with Mr. Robert Comeau

at Another Course to College, a Boston Public School

 

Deeper thinking, rigorous pacing, critical consciousness, self-analysis.

Preparation for college success and a better world.

 

Some of the units below reflect an approach I took for many years as an English teacher, planning our year together before I ever met this year's students. This currated curriculum guided students through a chronological survey of world literature, and exposed students to college-level readings with an eye toward the historical development of human thought, in the history of ideas.

 

Today, I teach some of the same texts and units, but build more student voice and choice into what we read, and when we read it. I work to blend some curration with some student selections, polling juniors about their interests before the summer break, and preparing materials that match their interests to start the year. As we proceed, students sometimes vote on what to read next, whether to hold a debate on a text, and what the debate topics should be. In some books, like the Essential Feminist Reader, students choose what to read within the anthology, and teach their classmates about the reading the next day. During other units, students choose one of three books, and form small groups for discussion, then teach their classmates about their text. This form of "jigsawing" helps us cover more ground together than we could by all reading the same thing, and it taps into a powerful incentive for adolescent readers: voice and choice. At the same time, I work to preserve the important group dynamics of reading common texts together, so that readers can experience the zone of proximal development, growing their skills and understanding through interactions with more expert others -- their peers and teacher. Students analyze their chosen texts in large or small groups, led by their teacher or a peer. If everyone chose her own text, each reader becomes a group of one, and we miss out on the distributed cognition of seminar discussion, where our understanding together adds up to more than the sum of its parts.

 

New units, based on student interests, as reflected in surveys and voting:

 

Racial & Ethnic Identity Development

 

Feminism

Critical Race Theory, Postcolonial Thought and Critical Consciousness

 

 

 

Old chronological units, some of which are still in the mix:

Central theme

 

Day 1: Intro / Critical Consciousness

 

Unit 1: Religion and Theories of Liberation

 

Unit 2b: Ancient Greece: Pre-Socratics

 

Unit 3: Ancient Greece:  Plato

 

Analysis: Do and Don't

 

Unit 4: Ancient China: Poetry and Philosophy

 

Unit 5: Ancient Rome: The Aeneid

 

A Sketch of History

 

Unit 6: The Arabian Nights

 

Unit 7: High Medieval  Italy: Inferno

Unit 8a: High Renaissance Spain: Don Quixote

 

Unit 8b: High Renaissance England: Hamlet

 

Unit 9: European Enlightenment

 

Unit 10: Modern Economics: Smith v. Marx

 

Unit 11: English Romantic Poets

 

Unit 12: English Modernism

 

Unit 13: Existentialism

 

Unit 14: Magical Realism and McOndo

 

Unit 15: Postmodern Theory

 

Unit 16: Postcolonial Literature & Theory

 

 

 

 

 

Unit Goals: Racial & Ethnic Identity Development.

Readings:

Theories on Racial and Ethnic Identity Development, by Cross & Fhagen-Smith, Ferdman & Gallegos, Poston , Kim, and Rowe, Bennett, & Atkinson 

 

Selected stories from Among the Wild Mulattos & Other Tales, by Tom Williams

 

"Double Consciousness," from The Souls of Black Folks, by W. E. B. Du Bois

 

"An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness," by Chinua Achebe

Selections from The Wretched of the Earth, by Frantz Fanon

"Minutes on Indian Education," by Thomas Babington Macaulay

Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Chapter 2, by Paulo Freire

"The Talented Tenth," a selection, by W.E.B. DuBois

The 1895 "Atlanta Compromise" Speech, by Booker T. Washington

"A Seperate Black Nation," by Marcus Garvey

Stories and poems by Jorge Luis Borges

"I am not a Magical Realist," and stories from Alberto Fuguet

 

Unit Goals and Key Questions:

We'll work on these goals together, and add some of your ideas and interests. We must also develop skills and knowledge that are essential for success in college, career and life.

Develop stronger skills in thinking, reading, writing, discussion and debate. We'll learn to do deeper analysis, where we break apart texts and topics to reveal deep and hidden meanings.

Interrogate race and racism, where they comes from, how they work, and what change could look like.

Understand ideology, and how it operates to reinforce oppressive social structures.

 

Investigate ethnic identity, its origins and functions, and what it means to embrace or reject a hyphenated identity.

 

Understand identity, and the dynamics to the answer of the question, "who am I?" We'll explore essentialist and anti-essentialist notions of identity, race and ethnicity.

Practice critical consciousness, developing a critical eye on media, culture, power, justice, identity, language, freedom, and equality, by learning to read deeply the word, and the world.

Explore these topics across genres, in theory, fiction, poetry and film.

 

Assessments

-        Daily participation in class discussion. See the rubric in the class policies section for how to score points.

Two analytical essays.

o   AP and Honors students write two 1,250 word essays analyzing and evaluating the racial and/or ethnic identity development in the works we read together. Choose at least one theory and one work of fiction.

o   College English 12 students write two in-class essay analyzing and evaluating the racial and/or ethnic identity development in a work of fiction we read together.

One creative piece.

Compose poetry, rap lyrics, a 3D printed object, computer animation, painting, photography exhibit, or whatever genre you choose, and write a one page artist's statement on how your work reflects your ideas, questions or comments on race in America.

 

 

 

Unit Goals: Feminism

 

Unit Goals, Key Questions, & Topics for Class Discussion

Activities in addition to class discussion / primary writing assignment

History of Ideas

 

Understand what feminism is, in distinction to the way it is popularly portrayed.

Reconstruct arguments presented in feminist philosophical literature.

Learn to reason in a way that is sensitive to gender and gender inequality.

Develop a capacity to recognize gender bias in mundane, everyday interactions and social institutions that are usually taken for granted as natural or inevitable.

Recognize gender bias in their own beliefs, held out of convention or upbringing.

Analyze the damage done to women and men, from misogyny and patriarchy.

Read feminist literature, theory and essays across time and place, analyzing its many faces.

Examine the impact of patriarchy on the production of literature by women.

Analyze and evaluate the form of our readings, the function and effectiveness in the writing styles of women's liberation.

Develop the skills for a "jigsaw" approach to reading, where you each choose a selection to read independently, do your own analysis with evidence, then teach the class about it.

 

Jigsaw discussions, where students select readings of their own interests, and teach the class about them. This way, we'll cover more ground, and learn from each other.

 

Watch for the evolution of the women's liberation movement across time and cultures.

 

 

 Unit Goals: Critical Race Theory, Postcolonial Thought

                                         and Critical Consciousness

Readings:

 

Critical Race Theory, an Introduction, by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic

 

Two short stories reflecting the dynamics of racism in contemporary America "The Lessons of Effacement," by Tom Williams, a biracial American author, from his book Among the Wild Mulattos, 2015 and "More Stars than in Heaven," by Alberto Fuguet, an Argentinian author who has lived and written in America, translated from his Spanish book Shorts -- Stories, 1996

 

"This is America," music video by Childish Gambino

 

"Get Out" film, an allegory on racism in America, by Jordan Peele

 

Dante's Inferno, an alleogry on ethics, and the path from the bad life to the good. We'll read this as a preparation for Ellison's Invisible Man.

 

Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles, a tragedy on fate and flaw. We'll read this as a preparation for Invisible Man.

 

The Gospel at Colonus, by Lee Breuer, an adaptation of the Sophocles play into an African American gospel church services, in which the blind Oedipus is made holy through his suffering. We'll watch selections of the play for insights into the allusions to Oedipus in Invisible Man.

 

Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison.

 

"The Atlanta Compromise," selections from the speech by Booker T Washington. We'll read for context of Invisible Man.

 

"The Talented Tenth," selections from the essay by W E B Du Bois. We'll read for context of Invisible Man.

 

"A Seperate Black Nation," by Marcus Garvey. We'll read for context of Invisible Man.

 

 

 

Unit Goals -- Critical Race Theory, Postcolonial Thought and Critical Consciousness

 

Develop stronger skills in thinking, reading, writing, discussion and debate. We'll learn to do deeper analysis, where we break apart texts and topics to reveal deep and hidden meanings.

Interrogate race and racism, where they comes from, how they work, and what change could look like.

Understand critical race theory, and how it works to expose and address systemic racism that persists long after the civil rights movement.

Investigate racial and ethnic identity, its origins and functions, and what it means to embrace or reject a hyphenated identity.

Understand identity, and the dynamics to the answer of the question, "who am I?" We'll explore essentialist and anti-essentialist notions of identity, race and ethnicity.

Practice critical consciousness, developing a critical eye on media, culture, power, justice, identity, language, freedom, and equality, by learning to read deeply the word, and the world.

Explore "postcolonial" literature, and how to do a "postcolonial reading."

Examine multiple "images of Africa," from Conrad, Achebe, Salih, Memmi, Fanon, and Dangarembga. What is the image of Africa you start with in the unit? How can we complicate and enrich that image?

How can postcolonial theory, from Achebe, Memmi, and Fanon, help us to understand the literature we'll read? Analyze and evaluate the portraits of the Colonizer and the Colonized. How do the players in the process of colonization construct the self, and the other? What does it mean to analyze, to break down these structures? What are the psychological and cultural dynamics? How can we help make them better?

Identity and Assimilation: How is the native self constructed in the texts, compared with the identity of the colonizer? What happens on each side when the two spheres meet? What are your experiences of the dynamic? Is there a pure, original self to which one must stay true? Is identity more fluid, changing, and contingent? How do our readings present the dynamics of identity in the postcolonial world? In what ways is a clear, distinct and stable identity useful in revealing and healing colonial wounds? In what ways might we want a more nuanced, complex understanding of the self?

Hybridity: What does it mean to be between the colonizer and the colonized, to be both and neither? Is this a negative space, defined by what it is not? Is it a positive space, primed with potential for self-creation, for new ways forward? What are the special dynamics of subgroups within neocolonial situations, such as the colonized woman, a relatively privileged ethnic minority, or a middle-class member of the oppressed? Consider the dynamics described in Memmi's portrait of the "small colonizer."

Education: Compare and contrast the model for colonial education in Macauley vs. methods for liberation in Freire. Compare them to the formal schools of the colonial system, and the informal education of characters outside the classroom. What are the pedagogical motives and methods of colonization, and of the informal education sought by the colonized students? In what ways are these curricula met with compliance, and resistance? Analyze your own experiences in education, inside and outside school. Can you see neocolonial agendas? Postcolonial rebellions?

Critical Consciousness: Central characters in several of the novels are able to see what others cannot, or will not. How does analysis, vision with a critical eye, affect the lives of the central characters, as well as the ones who tell their stories? Can you demonstrate the ability to see critically, with analytical depth, our own culture?

Neocolonialism: Is America an Empire, with similar motives, hierarchies, and consequences of colonialism -- outside, and inside, our borders? What are some important similarities and differences between traditional colonialism and the uneven power structures we see in today's global economy, and growing class divisions?

Gender: How is gender used in the construction of the colonial situation, and of postcolonial resistance? What does it mean to deconstruct gender while deconstructing colonial myths about the feminized subject? In the resistance to colonial oppression, how does that resistance spread into critiques of traditional patriarchies?

What are your personal experiences of oppression and privilege, within the power structures of neocolonialism, racism, classism, and other power dynamics? How do your experiences inform your politics? How do they fit within, or outside, the frames of this unit's theory and literature?

What do we do? What are the effects of refusing, or accepting, privilege? Faced with oppression, what does it mean to rebel, to comply, or to assimilate? What hopes do contemporary left and right wing politics hold? What, in the face of increasing tensions over the roles of race and ethnicity in American life and social justice, will you do?

Explore these topics across genres, in theory, fiction, poetry, music and film.


Assessments

 

-        Daily participation in class discussion. See the rubric below for how to score points.

-        One analytical essay, for a paper grade. Use no outside sources, only your own original analysis of the texts.

o   AP and Honors students will write a 1,250 word essay analyzing and evaluating our reading from this unit, and/or from the Arabian Nights, by Nov. 5th

o   College English 12 students write a 1,250 word essay analyzing and evaluating our reading from this unit, and/or from the Arabian Nights, either by Nov. 5th to count for term 1, or at a later date to count for ter

 

One creative piece, for a test grade in term 2.

o   Make art that demonstrates your analysis and evaluation of the concepts you've learned in this unit.

          You could use our makerspace equipment, and produce a laser cut, 3D print or custom t-shirt or hoodie.

          You could produce computer animation, game design, painting, photography exhibit, or whatever genre you choose.

          You could write poetry, rap lyrics or a short story.

               For a test grade in term 2, write a one page artist's statement on how your work reflects your ideas, questions or comments on race in America. Explain your choices as an artist, how the form of your work captures and shapes its meaning.

 

 

 

 

Continued...

 

Central theme

 

Day 1: Critical Consciousness

 

Unit 1: Religion and Theories of Liberation

 

Unit 2b: Ancient Greece: Pre-Socratics

 

Unit 3: Ancient Greece:  Plato

 

Analysis: Do and Don't

 

Unit 4: Ancient China: Poetry and Philosophy

 

Unit 5: Ancient Rome: The Aeneid

 

A Sketch of History

 

Unit 6: The Arabian Nights

 

Unit 7: High Medieval  Italy: Inferno

Unit 8a: High Renaissance Spain: Don Quixote

 

Unit 8b: High Renaissance England: Hamlet

 

Unit 9: European Enlightenment

 

Unit 10: Modern Economics: Smith v. Marx

 

Unit 11: English Romantic Poets

 

Unit 12: English Modernism

 

Unit 13: Existentialism

 

Unit 14: Magical Realism and McOndo

 

Unit 15: Postmodern Theory

 

Unit 16: Postcolonial Literature & Theory

 

 

 Curriculum Calendars Rubrics

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