Welcome back and Welcome to Week 3!
I hope everyone had an amazing week writing and teaching about last week’s lesson.
Before I jump into this week’s content, and because there is a good chance I’ll forget if I don’t mention it up-front: I’d like to invite you all to leave comments at the bottom of this post with your thoughts on the classical education model we used last week.
Okay, now let’s jump right into this week’s lesson plan based on the following reading source texts:
“Diary of a Madman” by Lu Xun
“Sealed Off” by Zhang Ailing
“Man of La Mancha” by Chu T’Ien-Hsin
Lesson Overview / Outline:
- Introduction – briefly welcome everyone back to class.
- Review – briefly review last week’s lesson highlights and ask for classroom feedback. The idea here is to help students remember previous week’s material by engaging them in dialogue. Try to ask a few specific questions about last week’s material, concepts, and themes. Ask for examples of how various students processed the content by using the Classical model.
- New Material –
This week we witnessed a shift from Classical Chinese literature to a more modern Chinese literature. From Confucianism to Modernism. From Classical Chinese writing with its complex grammatical rules and fancy decorations to a more regionally focused “Vernacular” style writing.
During this time period, the people of China were under an enormous amount of stress; from both their government as well as other governments. Aside from the fact that the Chinese government was somewhat oppressive toward individual’s rights, China was also at war with Japan and Europe. In fact, Japanese air-raids were commonplace.
Much of the political ideals were formed by the Confucian school of thought. The idea that community and society take precedence over individual freedoms – the people were there to serve the government by serving one another, rather than the government being in place to serve the people – was the prevailing idea.
This week’s source material (listed above) represented a departure from the Confucian school of thought. For example, Diary of a Madman served as a metaphor for the oppressive Chinese government as illustrated by the main character’s mental disease. Using metaphor, the author was able to effectively communicate this common pain point with the everyman, without suffering persecution from the Chinese government.
Additionally, the written Chinese Vernacular these works were written in served as a further representation of this “flight from Confucianism to Modernism”. The hearts of the people of China were hardened by years of government oppression, cultivating rich and fertile ground for this new and radical expression of freedom to take root.
3b Group discussion (Q&A)
Actively engaging the classroom in a discussion is your next step this week. Come up with three prompts to encourage discussion. Feel free to create your own prompts, or use these:
I. What social and political parallels can you draw between Sealed Off and Diary of a Madman and the current social and political climate in America today?
II. How is the language (Vernacular) in which the piece of literature is written influence the work’s impact on the audience?
III. In Sealed Off, various people were used as examples throughout the story; passengers on the train. For example, the English teacher, the man who “read” his dumplings, and the man with the “walnut head”.
These people were all stuck in a train during an air raid with strangers in what was very likely, their last minutes on earth. Despite being in such a perilous circumstance, none of the people seemed to be concerned with mortality. Why would the author place an emphasis on all their other “normal” thoughts, instead of the fact that they could die at any moment?
Ask each person to choose at least one question to answer, give them ten to fifteen minutes to think, then Open the floor for discussion. Ask for volunteers, but feel free to call on folks if nobody offers to share their answer. Also, encourage the class to engage in a classroom-wide discussion so each student has the opportunity to participate in the discussion of each question. Lastly, make sure all three questions are addressed by the class before the close of class.