Clemsy Gets his Dream Class

Introducing people of all ages to mythology... in pre-college educational curricula, youth orgs, the media, etc. Share your knowledge, stories, unit and lesson plans, techniques, and more.

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Clemsy
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Clemsy Gets his Dream Class

Post by Clemsy » Sun Jun 28, 2009 11:51 pm

Hey!

Way, way back in, oh, about 1978, as an undergrad English major, I worked for the English Department as a tutor in the Queens English Project. They sent us into some local high schools to help out in 11th and 12th grade Honors classes. I considered this quite close to heaven, and not because I was 20 and the ladies were 17 and 18.

Someday, I dreamed, I wish to teach such a class.

It only took 25 years.

But here I am, just ending my first year at the high school level and I've been handed two sections of senior English, college prep, with only a bare bones curriculum.

Design it yourself, Mr. Clemsy, I was told.

You see what comes of following your bliss?

Anyway, the previous instructor was really very clever. She designed her curriculum around the theme of transformation, which is just about right for a bunch of almost-not-kids-anymore.

She also handed me a worksheet where students can analyze stories in terms of Campbell's four functions of myth. Her reading list includes Hamlet, Kafka, Rand (if I must), an armful of novels including Love Medicine, Cold Sassy Tree and a really cool anthology titled Man the Myth-Maker edited by Prof. W.T. Jewkes of Penn State. It's been out of print for quite a while but I wish I could share the table of contents with you. Classic myths mixed with Yeats, Joni Mitchell, Wordsworth, Mary Renault, Arthur C. Clarke, Mark Twain, e.e. cummings, Frost, Lincoln, Bob Dylan...

Did I say this was a really cool book?

Anyway, I plan on spending the summer diving deep into this, and I would like some suggestions from all you very clever and marvelously well read associates.

What literature (or film actually... I plan on delving the Frankenstein monster theme with Blade Runner, shadow stuff with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (the version with Spencer Tracey and Ingrid Bergman, Platoon, or Apocalypse Now) would you consider valuable in such a course?

I look forward to your suggestions!

Cheers,
Clemsy
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
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Post by Cindy B. » Mon Jun 29, 2009 3:27 am

What a cool class, Clemsy. Enjoy! My guess is that the kids will enjoy it, too. So what mythological themes do you still need suggestions for?

Cindy
If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s. --Jung
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Post by Clemsy » Mon Jun 29, 2009 4:01 am

Hi Cindy!

I'm definitely going to work around the transformation theme... both dark and light. Anything in that arena will help. I'd like to gather as much as I can so I can start sifting and orchestrating.

Clemsy
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
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Post by Cindy B. » Tue Jun 30, 2009 11:04 pm

I have a two teen girls, Clemsy, 19 and 16, so I gave a thought to those transformational stories (movies and/or books) that over the years have particularly grabbed their attention and that most kids are likely familiar with. Here's what comes to mind so far: To Kill A Mockingbird, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Labyrinth, Spirited Away, Arthurian tales. None of this is news to you, though, I'm sure, but if your class will be anything like my kids, comparisons of the new to the familiar helps...usually...if I'm lucky...kids. Sheesh. :wink:

Cindy
If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s. --Jung
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Post by Clemsy » Wed Jul 01, 2009 2:44 pm

Ah.... Grail quest stuff. Excellent idea.

I don't have time to do the whole LOTR story, and the movies don't do the transformation theme justice, IMO. Perhaps "The Hobbit?" Actually.... that's not a bad idea considering how infantilized these kids are today right through the upper grades and beyond. That's the transformation I'm shooting for. If I can plant the idea of personal growth, maybe it will take root.

Oh, another book I'm going to use is Siddhartha.

Thanks, Cindy... keep those ideas coming. I'm also looking for short stories and poetry.
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
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Post by Clemsy » Wed Jul 01, 2009 5:31 pm

Ooooh. Brainflash: Siddhartha (East) balanced with The Once and Future King (West).

Found an interesting link re Grail Quest: The Sword and the Grail: Restoring the Forgotten Archetype in Arthurian Myth.
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
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Post by CarmelaBear » Tue Jul 07, 2009 1:51 am

Anna Quindlan tackles transformation with skill, Clemsy. One of her latest is "One True Thing", where the big city career girl is shamed into caregiving for her dying mother.
Once in a while a door opens, and let's in the future. --- Graham Greene
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Post by Cindy B. » Tue Jul 07, 2009 1:18 pm

I just watched The Matrix on TV again, Clemsy, and thought of you and this thread. What kid doesn't know of Neo? Besides, their teacher has a passion for science fiction. :)

Cindy
If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s. --Jung
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Post by Clemsy » Tue Jul 07, 2009 1:47 pm

Thanks to you both! Added to my brainstorm file!
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
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Post by jonsjourney » Wed Jul 08, 2009 12:25 pm

The ability to tie together Heart of Darkness with the film Apocalypse Now is an effective way of illustrating the same story withing two completely different eras of human history. The eras are different, yet the human condition remains.

The book is so short, you could read it in about the same amount of time the film runs!

That being said...it is a pretty pessimistic vision of humanity. Or is it a positive exploration of insanity?
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Post by Clemsy » Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:47 pm

Good suggestion, Jon and I had considered at least the movie. I don't know if the book is available, but I can try to get it for the following year.

Yes it is dark, but so is some of the other stuff we'll be doing. It's a good idea to get to know Mr. Hyde so you know him when you see him... especially if he's coming out of you. :shock:
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Post by Clemsy » Fri Jul 10, 2009 5:00 pm

Just finished reading Ayn Rand's Anthem, which will fit the curriculum nicely and lead to some interesting discussion. (I also appreciated the concise explanation of her Objectivist philosophy, which reminded me why I declined reading her work independently. I find her rejection of 'collectivism' in any form probably the result of her coming of age during the Bolshevik Revolution.)

Interesting that the dystopian novels I've come to know all share such a similar themeAre there any dystopian individualist works? Like everything else, anyway, it's a question of balance.

I've been considering weaving Grail Quest stuff in here, and Anthem actually provides an opening with Rand's use of the image of the Uncharted Forest. So I'm rereading the first chapter of the Grail Quest (departure) for possible inclusion... from there, perhaps, Robin Williams' The Fisher King and Monty Python?
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
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Post by Cindy B. » Fri Jul 10, 2009 8:44 pm

Talk about making learning fun, Clemsy. I say, yes, do go with Monty Python. :D

Wish I could sit in on your class...

Cindy
If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s. --Jung
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Post by Clemsy » Sat Jul 11, 2009 2:04 pm

I don't know about the students... but I'm going to have fun!

Did some research on the Fisher King yesterday. Didn't know that The Natural is also centered around this theme. Both the novel and film get added to the brainstorm list.
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
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Post by Clemsy » Sun Jul 12, 2009 2:42 pm

Blake's 'The Tyger' was mentioned in a dream last night. How clever of me! So selections from his Innocence and Experience collections have been added to the list, including 'The Sick Rose' which is arguably one of the most powerful poems in the English language.

I've also added Browning's 'My Last Duchess.'

Any poetry suggestions?
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
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