This interdisciplinary course in world history and World Literature for high school students at Standley Lake High School Jefferson County is taught in two consecutive periods each day the class meets during the semester. The purpose of this approach is to enhance the study of each discipline while drawing connections between the two areas. It is our hope that students will come to appreciate expressions of each civilization as they study these literary works in historical context.
FIRST SEMESTER TOPICS:
Religion is an important aspect of historical and literary studies. No universal agreement exists about religion. To encourage norms of acceptance and tolerance in classroom discussions, we examine the vocabulary of intolerance, such as ethnocentrism and xenophobia. We study various belief systems to learn about these and to understand others. Our purpose is not to proselytize. We recognize that there are many views.
Our approach to teaching religion is that some aspects can be explained while much is difficult to understand. We encourage students to keep on open mind. The question is posed: why are people attracted to religion? Ordinary people care about three things: their family, money, and death or life after death. They look to religion for guidelines to answer such questions as: How should we raise our children? Is there more to life than wealth? What will happen to me when I die?
Ancient Civilizations: Middle East, Egypt, India, and China
Egypt: The Book of the Dead
Middle East: The Epic of Gilgamesh
Bible/Genesis, the Story of the Flood
For each world religion, the question is posed: How did this belief system provide answers to basic concerns over family, money, and death?
India: Rig Veda (Creation Hymn)
Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
Tao Te Ching
Classical Civilizations of Greece and Rome
Greece: Iliad by Homer
Roman/Christian: Bible/The Book of Ruth
Bible/The Book of Samuel
Enrichment: field trips to sacred places: Jewish Synagogue, Greek Orthodox Church, a Buddhist Temple
Western Europe: Divine Comedy by Dante Allighieri
Islam: The Qur'an
Enrichment: Guest Speaker on Islam
Early Modern Civilizations: Renaissance, Reformation, and the Age of Absolutism
Western Europe: Shakespearean plays
SECOND SEMESTER TOPICS:
The Age of Reason and Revolutions
Western Europe: Candide by Voltaire
Tartuffe by Moliere
Industrialization and Ideologies
"White Manís Burden" by Rudyard Kipling
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Western Europe: Night by Elie Wiesel
Enrichment: Guest Speaker on the Holocaust
The Modern World: Latin America
Latin America: Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Anne Wallin and Pat Carney Standley Lake High School Jefferson County
From the World War II Unit
Night by Elie Wiesel
Rationale: Night is powerful, mature book that is also short (109 pages) and easy to read. It gives students insight into Judaism as well as the Holocaust. Hopefully tolerance is learned when students connect what happened when one manís intolerance was allowed to spread.
Objectives: students will 1. Read, write, talk, and think about the novel Night. 2. Gain an understanding of the Holocaust. 3. Learn about Judaism. 4. Understand that indifference contributed to the atrocities of Hitler. 5. Realize that indifference can and does allow social injustices today. 6. Have tolerance for humans.
Lesson I: Indifference
Introduction: Two days after winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, Elie Wiesel, author of Night said the following: "If there is one word that describes all the woes and threats that exist today, itís indifference. You see a tragedy on television for three minutes and then comes something else and something else. How many tragedies have we had recently? The Challenger, Chernobyl, the earthquake in El Salvador. . .And then there are the wars and those still in jail in Communist countries. Because there are so many tragedies, a sense of helplessness sets in. people become numb. They become indifferent. Indifference, to me, is the epitome of evil. The opposite of love is not hate, itís evil. The opposite of art is not ugliness, itís indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, itís indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, itís indifference. Because of indifference, one dies before one actually dies. To be in the window and watch people being sent to concentration camps or being attacked in the street and doing nothing, thatís being dead. One should not, one cannot, one must not turn oneís back on memory. It is an exalted way of seeing oneís life in its totality. Of course, there are tragedies, but there are also ways of winning battles and overcoming despair. I have always believed in God, though I have my quarrels with Him. In the Jewish tradition, one may say no to God if it is on behalf of other people. Sometimes I ask the questions and He does not answeróand I go on asking questions. I believe that one can be a good Jew or Christian or Buddhist and be with God or against God but not without God." (US News & World Report, October 27, 1986, page 68)
Assignment: 1. Find an example of injustice in the newspaper. It can be an event that affects one individual, or several individuals, or even an entire country. The people affected by the event may react with n attitude of indifference or with one of indigence. Cut the article out of the paper and summarize it in your own words. 2. Tell why you think the people acted indifferently or fought for justice.
Class Activity: Indifference
Indifference is defined as lacking a feeling for or against something; apathy; detachment. In particular, an indifferent person is unwilling to take action to correct a wrong either out of fear or lack of concern.
Many people feel that the atrocities of Nazi Germany and the concentration camps was, in fact, permitted by the indifference of people around the world.
Below are some scenarios taken from newspaper stories in which people acted indifferently in a variety of situations. First, read all of the scenarios. Second, decide which is the example of most harmful indifference and which is the least harmful third, rank the remaining scenarios from 2 through 5. Finally, write one or two sentences stating the reasons for your choices.
Put the letters of the scenarios in the spaces by the numbers.
Most harmful indifference Least harmful
1._____ 2._____ 3._____ 4._____ 5._____
A. Old Lady An elderly woman is walking out of the grocery store with her arms full of groceries and her purse over her shoulder. Two boys about 13 years old approach and demand her purse. She refuses to give it to them They knock her down and grab the purse from her. She screams and a number of people look over to see her on the ground and the boys running away with her purse. The boys are wearing a red bandanna that could mean they are members of a gang. Several onlookers would like to help the lady, but they are afraid of what the gang members might do in retaliation. All of the onlookers ignore the plight of the lady, and so the two boys run away easily.
B. Food Drive A high school in an upper middle class suburb sponsors a food drive near the Christmas break. A few teachers give extra credit grade points for students who bring in canned goods. Those students bring many items. Most of the other teachers are too busy with school work, tests, and grades to get involved except to make the announcement to their classes. The students in the classes with no grade incentive bring in a pitfully small number of goods. Most of them are too busy with their jobs, social life, sports, and activities to remember to bring food for the hungry.
C. Church Line A church service is held at noon in a church near downtown so that office personnel and business executives can attend services during their lunch break. During communion the clergyman notices that one line is much shorter than the other lines. As he watches to see the reason for the shorter line, he notices that people are moving from the short line to longer ones. He looks more carefully and sees that the short line is the one where a young, African-American woman is giving communion. He can not believe that devout Christians would hurt another human being solely because of her gender or race. He is indignant about this behavior, but he does not want to offend his congregation right at this moment, and so he says nothing.
D. Teen Beatings Two families live next to each other in a rather large apartment complex. One of the families has two teenagers who seem rather incorrigible, but they have not caused any serious problems to anyoneís knowledge. Often loud shouting, screaming and crying are heard coming from the apartment with the two teens. Also, it sounds as if the father is beating one or both of the teens with his belt, and yelling at them that they had better learn to obey his orders. One of the teens begs him to stop the beating. Occasionally, the teens have had black eyes after a night of violence. The person living next door would like to do something to help reduce the violence, but decides that the way a parent disciplines his/her children is not the concern of a neighbor. Thus, no action is taken.
E. Single Mom A young single parent with two grade school children lives next door to a retired couple. The children are in the first and third grades. Because the mother must work long hours to pay the bills, the children are home alone before they go to school and after they come home from school, sometimes very late. The couple worries about these two children, but they decide that the children being home alone is really none of their business. After all, the mother is probably doing the best she can, and they do not want to be involved. The children continue to be alone at least several hours daily.
Lesson II: Found Poem Assignment
1. Copy one or two unique, powerful, or unusual sentences found in the book Night. (Thirty to fifty words is a good target for sentence length).
2. Break the sentences into poetic lines, arranging words and phrases in the most meaningful and surprising ways.
3. Arrange words on lines creatively: Add spaces between words (Clear Out) Delete space between words (mendie) Divide words into stanzas Add punctuation marks Add capital letters or lowercase letters
4. Write at least three rough draft patterns of your sentence(s) before you choose the final form. Place an asterisk (*) beside the found poem you think made the words the most powerful for the reader.
5. Format: A. Proper Heading B. Title: Found Poem C. words from Night, page ___ D. Quote the sentence(s) exactly as it appears in the book E. Poem F. At the end of your poem and to the right: arranged by (your name)
World History/World Literature
Interdisciplinary Class Periods 2/3
Sentences from Night, 1982, page 62.
"For more than half an hour he stayed there, struggling between life and between death, dying in slow agony under our eyes. And we had to look him full in the face."
For more than half an hour
he stayed there,
dying in slow agony under our eyes.
And we had to look him
in the face.
****arranged by Rosalie Cunningham
Lesson III: Night, In Class Essay Assignment
Directions: Choose one theme from the list below and write for the ENTIRE class period. You may write this assignment in the form of a letter, a newspaper article, or an essay as long as you satisfy the requirements. Remember to pace yourself and leave time to proofread before handing your work in to me.
Theme topics (You must write a complete sentence which states what you believe Elie Wiesel says about your particular theme.)
1. Intolerance 2. Indifference 3. Social injustice 4. Profound despair 5. Moral crisis/loss of faith 6. Violation of human rights
Audience: Another junior class who has not read the novel.
Purpose: Inform and persuade the reader that your opinion about the theme you choose is true.
Requirements: The paper should have an introduction that clearly states the topic and your opinion on it. The body should contain SPECIFIC support from your thinking about this topic, from your own life experiences, from the reading and discussions in class, and from the videos you have viewed in the past three weeks. Be sure to include detail and specific examples and text from the novel and specific references to the videos. Make sure to include author and title of the novel and the exact titles of the videos.
Do not forget to conclude your paper so that your reader knows that you are finished.