Last post was about my thrilledness (Humpty Dumpty and Shakespeare give us all permission to invent words) over my highly gifted kids getting into Lord of the Flies. I was exuberant.
(I never blogged about why this unit was a big deal. See, I'd been teaching Animal Farm and To Kill a Mockingbird to my 8th graders for four years when the high school VP emailed my principal and told him those books were now (thanks, Common Core) going to be taught in 9th grade. It was more than lame--for one, I was getting ready to launch AF in a week or so, and two, TKAM is just my favorite. For three, teaching TKAM was so awesome after teaching Elie Wiesel's Night--to teach about a man of courage just brought me joy and was a wonderful counterpoint to Night's darkness. OK, I reconciled myself to writing units for two new texts this year. I asked the VP what the upper grades were teaching and only heard from one 9th grade teacher.
Fine. I spent days creating a unit for Lord of the Flies, and boy did I get excited. Talked to a teacher friend in Texas. Stole a few ideas from a teacher in Pennsylvania. Got some ideas straight from the Creator. Man, this was gonna be waaaay better than AF, waaaaay deeper. You can see read about my excitement here and here.)
Things just kept getting better, especially when I assigned chapter 8 for reading and the kids came in all shaking their heads about the answer to the question, "Who IS 'Lord of the Flies?'" Whoo!!!
After school that day I had a couple of formers come by to visit, sophomores in Honors English at the local high school. "Guess what we're reading, Miss M?" Oh dear Lord, please, no....
I dashed off an email to my principal and the high school VP, forwarding an old email where I'd asked for what the upper grades taught. I told them I'd heard no reply. I told them SOME of what my unit contained--Hobbes, Rousseau, leadership theory, Christ figure symbology, Freud--and got the response: "My best advice is to check with the department head before you select novels."
Are. You. Serious....
If my kids could do this in 8th grade, shouldn't the 10th grade teacher tackle something tougher? Give them Plato. Or just TELL ME WHAT THE UPPER GRADES ARE DOING, AS I'D ASKED. Or ask US what WE'VE done at the lower grades!
Anyway, my principal wrote a response supporting me: "Please understand that we need to keep Lord of the Flies here at DP." I haven't heard anything back from the high school or from him. I am hoping no new news is good news, but it's been a loonnnnng time since I have been that deflated. Gonna press on this year with my plans--comparing Peter Brueghel's paintings to the novels, finding music that goes with each character (compiling the definitive LOTF soundtrack with rationales), writing fine literary analysis papers, and celebrating all of it with a luau complete with PORK (bahaha) and the "islands" creating displays of the symbols and characters chosen from the text: fire, specs, the conch, the beast, pigs, Ralph, Simon, Jack, Piggy......and when they get to high school and the high school forces them to do the same things I had them do already, it will be upon THEM to write a new unit. These kids are ready for more.
And I think I am done giving up the books that work so well with my history course.