Why this blog?

"... Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves ... Do not search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. The point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer." - Letters to a Young Artist, R. M. Rilke

Rooted in the promise and challenge of growth ...

these are letters from a young teacher.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What made you think that?

I got my first reading journal entries from my middle-schoolers this week. What a joy to read! Insightful thoughts and strong opinions, everything one would expect from well-read teenagers. Except, of course, any iota of evidence to back up their opinions.

As a result, our question of the day today was: What made you think that? I emphasized to them that for every opinion they offer, they must back it up, especially if they are trying to persuade someone who has not read the book to do so (or dissuade, as the case may be). How else are they going to know what you're talking about?

So, I put out a challenge to them: We would write a journal entry collaboratively about a book they had all read. The choice: The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, which I, conveniently have not read. ("What?!" they gasped, and one of them immediately took a copy from the library shelf and shoved it into my hands. I guess I'll have to now.)

"Where do we start?" I asked.

"The Hunger Games is amazing!" sounded one student, exuberantly.
"It’s fascinating because it’s in the future," said another.
And then another, and another, and another. But - the golden question - what made you say that? Back and forth, they opined, and I challenged. It was the most fun I've had with teenagers in a long while. Here is the result of just five minutes:

The Hunger Games was amazing! It’s fascinating because it’s in the future. Technology has progressed, but we (humanity) are socially digressing. The Capitol is a totalitarian government at the center of 13 districts. It has initiated the “Hunger Games”, where children aged 12-18 fight each other to the death. Everyone must watch as a reminder that the Capitol is all-powerful. Also, the Capitol is keeping the districts in poverty by keeping resources for themselves. Despite these horrific conditions, technology has advanced to the point that animals are genetically engineered and surgeries are available to dye skin color. The irony of this situation is that despite this technology, common people in the districts cannot access it and are struggling too much to survive to even think about it.

We will continue next week. I'll keep you posted.

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