Senior Moments: Separate Worlds

Politicalblogs infoplotThe summer reading assignment for one of my senior classes (AP Lit) was to find two books that somehow explored the idea of separate worlds. 

This turned out to be a much better assignment than I even realized as seniors are, by virtue of their status, living on or moving toward the border between one world and the next.

So it is with elders, one world (of family, work, comfort, security, and more) giving way to another world where one comes to live more and more; for many, though, including Ann, they move back and forth across those worlds. Thus what often appear to be totally separate worlds are, in most cases, much more integrated, something like the image at the top.

This process, of moving from one world into the next, is almost a law of physics when it comes to high school seniors: they are supposed to grow tired of and even resent school, home, family, and sometimes friends. It requires a lot of steam to get oneself up and out of the world of the familiar and into the world of the future you must begine to create responsibility for yourself. 

To get students to think about this idea of separate worlds, to goad them beyond the obvious thinking of either/or, I gave them images like the one above and the painting below by Edward Hopper. Art bring together so many forces; it needs a bigger place in the curriculum. 

ARThopper3 Artists and writers, such as Jonathan Franzen in his book Freedom, which I just finished yesterday, remind us through their depiction of us lost in our separate worlds just how connected our worlds are. One might go so far as to say that the more separate we imagine our worlds to be the more obvious it is how similar we all are.

Today, the kids came in, having spent the last couple periods developing their ideas about this theme through spirited, intelligent discussions, and spent the period writing the year's first essay. Judging by a quick scan of the papers, they did the sort of thinking and writing (about their reading) that we hope to see all our kids doing as they prepare to leave the world of high school for that other, seemingly separate world of the real world.

 

 

Note: I entirely understand if you decide to unsubscribe from the blog this year as I post nearly every day. If you do, stop back by now and then to see what's up and check in; then come back next summer when this year's "Senior Moments" thread has concluded.

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6 Responses to “Senior Moments: Separate Worlds”

  1. Becky Martin August 18, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Jim, I am GLAD you are posting every day. I say keep on posting!!

  2. “Judging by a quick scan of the papers, they did the sort of thinking and writing (about their reading) that we hope to see all our kids doing”
    Yaaay! I am sure you are SO proud of them. Isn’t it a wonderful feeling when a lesson just unfolds perfectly, like a flower bud opening, just the way we’d planned for it to?
    I am proud to count you as a colleague!

  3. Thanks for the encouraging words, Becky! And your comments, Clix, are most welcome, too: yes, it’s very satisfying when something new goes well, though I am not sure we ever feel it’s perfect. Lennon said in an interview once that he never listened to his own stuff because all he could hear were the mistakes….

  4. Karen Davis August 19, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Hi Jim–I love that you left the discovery of the texts up to the students themselves…I’m just curious what titles they came up with for this assignment?

  5. Your posting about separate worlds brings to mind a book I am just finishing: Good Morning Midnight by Chip Brown. Worth a look. I also applaud the use of the painting with the idea to drive home the concept from different vantage points. I’ve become a real fan of The English Teacher’s Companion and it is the required text in my methods class. I’m a new subscriber and looking forward to the blog postings. Keep up the good work.

  6. I am not sure we ever feel it’s perfect… I also applaud the use of the painting with the idea to drive home the concept from different vantage points.

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