This week’s readings:
The readings from this particular week:
The Metamorphosis by Kafka
The Guest by Camus
Requiem by Akhmatova
Faust by Goethe.
You may be asking yourself, how can I possibly choose a single theme to as the focus of my lesson?
After all, theme identification and selection is merely the beginning of your task.
As an educator, you must have the ability to not only identify themes throughout multiple works, but you must have the capacity to comprehend the theme(s) in such a way that enables you to deliver the content in an engaging, practical and actionable way.
Theories, vague platitudes and discussions of theme are useless without a clear connection to your audience’s life.
What good is an idea if it can’t be applied to everyday life?
What good is a fable without an actionable moral?
If your students cannot use what you give them to improve their lives, or the lives of others, you’ve failed.
It’s obvious that multiple themes can be drawn from each work. For example, The Guest contains themes such as powerlessness, choice, man’s finite brain (limited knowledge), rebellion and disobedience. While Requiem constructs themes such as suffering, grief, mourning, powerlessness, courage, inner-strength, and much more.
Since your students will survey multiple works each week, it is quite possible each student may be tempted to take aim at a different theme than his or her classmates.
The responsibility of focus lies with you, the teacher. To that end, it is your responsibility to survey all pieces of writing and identify a common theme, one shared by each piece of writing. Do not select more than two themes to discuss each week, doing so may dilute your message and degrade the student’s ability to identify specific areas of their life in which to apply the lesson.
For example, two common themes for this week’s reading(s) are powerlessness and choice.
What comes to mind when you hear the word “powerless”? Do you immediately think of addiction or the growing black market for human trafficking? Do thoughts of kidnapped teenage girls, handcuffed, locked away and being forcefully hooked on heroin come to mind?
Perhaps if you’re born and raised in the USA, these are your initial thoughts. American privilege is blinding, and ignorance is bliss, truly it is. However, for those born and raised in other, not so fortunate countries, powerless may take on a whole new meaning. Consider your current living conditions. What did you do before you came to class today?
Let me guess, you woke up and jumped into a nice hot shower. Right? How much thought did you give to the source of the water coming through the pipes? Not much huh?
And what would you do if the water stopped working at your house? You’d head over to a friend, or family member’s house for a shower right? Because you live in America, you have access to clean water for drinking, cooking, and bathing. Even the homeless have access to clean water in our country.
As silly as it may sound, clean water empowers. Certain diseases are eliminated, nourishing food is prepared, strong construction materials are formed, people are clean, confident and hydrated, creative minds are fueled, people thrive and communities bond, and cities flourish – all because of clean water. True empowerment occurs because of clean water.
Imagine your entire family being ripped away, and thrown into jail by an evil ruler, such as Joseph Stalin. Imagine how powerless Anna Akhmatova must have felt as she watched her husband be arrested for no real reason. The despair and helpless feeling must have been overwhelming. Just as Anna was powerless over the Soviet Secret Police, during the Great Purge, millions of helpless people are powerless over their lack of access to clean water. Consider the powerlessness of all the babies born into communities without access to clean water; these young ones are without choice. Their only choice is whether to fight for survival or not.