It’s my belief that 16-year old, Walter Curry Jr., would not have been the victim of a vicious hate crime (being doused with gasoline and set on fire), if the 16-year assailant had been properly educated. Properly means, learning about the world - through a lens - so he could see a clear picture. Possible?
(hat tip-@kishizuka & @editi )
Imagine a 21st century classroom with teachers and authors joining forces in an effort to rid racism - for good - through education! Well, a movement to do just that has begun, The War: Writers Against Racism, by Dr. George E. Stanley.
Here’s Zetta Elliot’s outline for teachers on how to teach literature across the curriculum using her novel, A Wish After Midnight (September 2008 by Lulu) and Ishmael Beah’s memoir, A Long Way Gone (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, February 2007).
“‘Liberty and Justice for All’: Writing the Fight for Freedom” by Zetta Elliott, PhD
This course will explore the definition of—and quest for—freedom. For centuries, people in the US and around the world have struggled to balance the rights of the individual with the needs of the larger community; citizens rely upon their government to uphold those rights, but what do they “owe” their country in return? What happens when the social contract fails? In addition to reading a time-travel novel (A Wish After Midnight) and memoir (A Long Way Gone) about civil war, participants will consider visual images, diaries, letters, poems, and first-hand accounts penned by survivors of the Holocaust, urban gang violence, genocide, and acts of terrorism. Together we will attempt to answer the following questions: does violence endanger or protect our right to be free? What can speculative fiction and narrative possibility teach us about the past? Does memoir blur the line between fact and fiction? Can storytelling heal traumatized individuals and reconcile divided communities?
• To introduce participants to various forms of literature that complement “the five social studies standards: History of the United States and New York; World History; Geography; Economics; and Civics, Citizenship, and Government.”
• To share writing activities and strategies for incorporating literature into Social Studies units
• To expose participants to interdisciplinary resources guaranteed to excite and engage students
Week #1: Introduction: Teaching Literature Across the Curriculum
Week #2: A Wish After Midnight
Week #3: New York, Slavery, & the Civil War
Week #4: Witnessing War: Teenage Perspectives (Local & Global)
Week #5: A Long Way Gone
Week #6: Truth & Reconciliation: Memoir, Memorials, and Moving Forward
Week #7: Conclusions
Zetta Elliott earned her PhD in American Studies from NYU. Her poetry has been published in the Cave Canem anthology, The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, Check the Rhyme: an Anthology of Female Poets and Emcees, and Coloring Book: an Eclectic Anthology of Fiction and Poetry by Multicultural Writers. Her novella, Plastique, was excerpted in T Dot Griots: an Anthology of Toronto’s Black Storytellers, and her essays have appeared in The Black Arts Quarterly, thirdspace, WarpLand and Rain and Thunder. She won the 2005 Honor Award in Lee & Low Books’ New Voices Contest, and her picture book, Bird, was published in October 2008. Her first play, Nothing but a Woman, was a finalist in the Chicago Dramatists’ Many Voices Project (2006). Her fourth full-length play, Connor’s Boy, was staged in January 2008 as part of two new play festivals: in Cleveland, OH as part of Karamu House’s R. Joyce Whitley Festival of New Plays ARENAFEST, and in New York City as part of Maieutic Theatre Works’ Newborn Festival. Her one-act play, girl/power, was staged as part of New Perspectives Theater’s festival of women’s work, GIRLPOWER, in August 2008.