Sunday, April 6, 2008

Pushing Inquiry Further

My students' work with the inquiry frame for Oedipus Rex (see post below) worked well enough that I decided to push it further as we start our final theme for the year: cultural identity and isolation. Doing something twice always means the second time is better, so I knew I had little to lose.

We began exploring this final theme on Friday just by looking into what the individual words "cultural," "identity," and "isolation" meant. This produced great ideas -- particularly the point that you can be be isolated even within the culture that creates much of your identity. We discussed literary examples to explore it more, and it was neat to see them play with familiar characters in a new way. I ended this part of the discussion by having them define what we would need to look at in our upcoming readings to help define this theme. On their own, they said we would need to define first the culture then define how the characters were placed in relation to this culture. From there, we could explore.

They defined my unit plan. On their own. This inquiry stuff works.

I ended class with the following question to introduce Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis: How do our everyday cultures (that is our families, jobs, friends, classes -- those things we experience every day) affect who we are and who we aren't? I told them that we were starting small with this exploration -- with a story that rarely even left a single home. We will the build on this by reading Things Fall Apart, starting as outsiders to the culture that is at the foundation of the novel.

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