For the past eleven years, I have been fortunate to teach a diverse group of students in Brooklyn, N.Y. We are a Title I school, meaning the majority of our students are from low-income families. Many students live in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn; 47% are Latino, 40% are black, and 30% have special needs.
At this progressive school, students achieve academically through writing intense personal narratives and completing comprehensive research and analytical papers in each of the core subjects.
The school also fosters their socio-emotional side through restorative practices instead of the more punitive discipline that students at some comparative schools may experience. The result is a student body that is empathetic, impassioned, and enthusiastic about learning and social justice.
Students love talking about gender and feminist issues, especially when they have an engaging text that raises controversial issues. This year, after reading theory by Audre Lorde and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, we plan to read the play "Actually" by Anna Ziegler together as a class.
Reading the play out loud gives students the chance to become different characters and explore the dilemmas the characters face.
The play, about an investigation of allegations of date rape on a college campus, raises many issues and challenges students to make ethical decisions.
The unit will culminate with a Socratic Seminar and a literary analysis paper that will enable students to capture in words their new thinking about gender/feminist theory, as inspired by this thought-provoking play.
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