The WRAP workshop ended last Thursday (July 30), but I haven’t really had time since to reflect on the value of the whole week.
Wednesday gave us a chance to see some examples of how incorporating multiple texts into a curriculum unit allows us to “cast the widest net” (my term, not theirs) for our upper-level HS students. The example centered on movie stills and excerpts from To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman.
We also analyzed some texts from legal scholars’ evaluations of Atticus Finch. The goal of these various texts is to show how perspectives can change and shift over generations and genres.
Personally, this was the day where I realized how much of my curriculum is “cherry picked” to my liking. I have always followed the notion that if I’m enthusiastic about a topic or text, the students will be too. What I have disregarded, however, is that some students may never like what I like and thus feel short-changed.
I remember covering a portion of The Iliad a few years ago. Homer has never been my guy, but I found that some students were really into the storyline and various characters. I didn’t fake enthusiasm, but I do recall thinking that this text wasn’t nearly as “bad” as I had set it up to be in my head.
Since then, I have tried to break away from the same texts every year. While I still have a few staples (Gatsby, Catcher in the Rye, Separate Peace, etc.) I have begun including more modern texts.
The next step for me is to pair those novels with non-fiction articles, reviews, and other valuable texts that offer intellectual perspectives. If our goal is to award diplomas to well-rounded students, we have an obligation to expose them to as much as possible.
Today, there is no excuse not to do just that.