Help me give my students a classical literary experience that allows them to explore human nature and its impact on society and culture by providing us with a class set of "The Pearl" by John Steinbeck.
Seventh grade is a sort of crossroads for so many students in middle school. Think about it. They are no longer the "newbies", yet they are not the outgoing class who is expected to leave some sort of legacy. They are, to use one of many more cliches, literally in the middle! They are thinking about who they are and of what their values are. They are building their own legacy for when they become the outgoing class next year.
My seventh grade Language Arts students are lively, delightfully quirky, and like fingerprints, each child is unique.
We are a close-knit public school, and the majority of these students are relatively naive about the impact of societal issues involving cultural differences. Even though they stem from diverse backgrounds, we are a small school, and many of these children have known each other since kindergarten. Therefore, their experiences concerning certain societal issues are limited. For the most part, they have learned to nurture and support each other.
We have started a unit regarding "perception vs. reality" in our literature anthology, and we have recently completed a unit related to fighting for causes/beliefs. Both of these units and their contents have lent themselves to a variety of class discussions regarding social issues and culture as well as respecting differences. Our novel studies have included characters who have met with obstacles regarding their values and decisions. It has made me realize that many of my seventh graders are not quite sure about how to handle serious societal issues even though they respect and understand each other regardless of their various backgrounds.
I want my my seventh grade Language Arts classes to continue to explore concepts such as tolerance and values among different cultures, and I want to begin their exposure to classic literature.
I feel that a classic novel such as Steinbeck's "The Pearl" will be a great start to this endeavor. There are so many opportunities in this novel for discussions about human nature and how perception and even economic standards affect how we think and who we are. I feel this novel is a wonderful segue to teach tolerance and moderation through literature.
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