I teach in one of the largest, most diverse high schools in New York, and by extension, America. My students are radically diverse in background. They come from every borough in the city to attend my school. They come from every conceivable political, cultural, and social background. They come from wealth and they come from poverty.
They come to my school ostensibly for its sterling reputation in STEM subjects, however, they often find their voices in the language arts classes.
The challenge, therefore, of teaching in my school is finding texts that have a universal appeal.
I chose 110 copies of This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff. The reason is simple. When asked to describe my students I spoke about their beautiful magnificent radical diversity, but I neglected to point out 70% of them are boys. According to education research, the American teenage boy, more than ever before, is falling behind in school. When asked to explain the alarming trend, researchers say many boys feel disconnected and alienated in the classroom.
My goal is to create an atmosphere of inspiration through the literature we read in class.
Which is exactly why This Boy's Life is more vital than ever. This is a memoir that anyone can connect with, but especially boys. My goal is to use this novel to spark conversations about growing up, conflict, redemption, and identity. My goal is to create an atmosphere of inclusion and inspiration through literature
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