Help me give my students copies of Toni Morrison's Sula novel to use in our classroom.
My sophomore students are a blend of urban and suburban students from throughout southern Connecticut. They each have selected to attend our school because of their artistic interests and passions. I have found our student body to be one of the most diverse and mature in the city of New Haven -- groups of artists often carry this mantle with them. After a year of high school here as freshmen, when many young people are focused on just surviving in a new and mature academic environment. My students have started their sophomore year searching in earnest for the inspiration that will guide their continued learning in both art and academic fields.
After teaching high school students for over 20 years, I have come to realize that this is a moment young people are most ready to listen to a new voice!
These young people have spent time adapting to their new environment and they likely have arrived at the realization that they have a place to sit and a unique voice others are waiting to hear more from. The opportunity for one great book to spark a lifetime of understanding and thoughtfulness is undeniable.
I have been teaching Toni Morrison's Sula novel to sophomores in urban high school settings for twenty years now. When you regularly work with struggling readers as I have, text selection becomes absolutely critical. And simply put -- Sula has been the single most successful text I have ever taught.
What makes Sula so successful for the students I have taught throughout my career is its nuanced perspective on ethics.
So many voices have reached these young people up to this age about how to be good people. And yet, so much of what their peers have to offer, and what they see on social media and in the news, offer so many ways to get away with being bad. As adults we know that there is a very wide spectrum between good and bad and it is rare for any one person to be so easily characterized as one or the other. Sula offers a rich and entertaining story by which to discuss this spectrum.
And it doesn't hurt that Morrison has shaped her novel in roughly 10-page chapters with a touch of violence and/or romance in each carefully wrapped segment to keep young people tuned in. If a student misses a lesson, Morrison's poetic imagery and vibrant dialogue will quickly draw them back in to the heart of the action to keep them engaged with their learning community and the complex debate about who is good and who is bad!
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|Sula • Amazon Business||$12.25||33||$404.25|
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