Alternatives for those not comfortable with mythology

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by platypusok, Oct 29, 2013.

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  1. platypusok

    platypusok Companion

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    I have a rather conservative religious girl in my class. Her father got very upset when I had the class read "A Tell-Tale Heart" which is in the 8th grade lit book. So, admin told me to find alternatives when she is uncomfortable. Edgar Allan Poe and Roald Dahl have already been substituted. I've been told that her father doesn't want her reading the novel we are reading this year, "The Knife of Never Letting Go."

    But we just started a unit on mythology (which we and she did last year) but it is out too as of this morning. We are spending the next three weeks in class on this. So, what are some alternatives I can give her?
     
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  3. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Homeschooling? :rolleyes:


    No, really, I have no idea. But more power to you for being so patient :clap: because I just can't even.
     
  4. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I was also going to suggest homeschooling...
     
  5. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    If it were me, I would schedule a meeting with the father and ask him what alternatives he would respect, explaining that you won't be creating a whole curriculum just for one student, and she'll have to do an assignment different from the rest of the class (e.g., creating a five- or six-page report on whatever novel(s) he approves of).

    I'm a very conservative Christian, but I find the mythological stories very entertaining and valuable in my education, so I would have no problem with my children reading them. I would feel it's my job as a father to explain to my children that they are fiction and should not be confused with our own faith.

    But then again, that's me. :)
     
  6. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Isn't mythology part of the standards? I don't think she can be excused from part of the standards if so. Dad would probably not be thrilled when she has to learn about evolution.
     
  7. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    What about fables?
     
  8. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    *sighing* There's a very good reason why the standards include this content. One doesn't teach mythology in order that kids might believe it. One teaches mythology so that readers, as they mature and read more widely, will recognize and understand the allusions to mythology that pervade literature. If this child is destined for a college in which she'll read either the Great Books or much of the canon of Western civilization, not already having the grounding in mythology is going to be a considerable impediment.
     
  9. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    Well said, TeacherGroupie.
     
  10. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I like the Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe. It is a bit scary and some parents might take it to the extreme and call it a horror book. Might this be more the parent's objection?
     
  11. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Thanks, Ted!
     
  12. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    It always amazes me that there are parents like this that exist, and it amazes me more that there are teachers with the patience to deal with it. Mythology is part of my curriculum here, and if a parent doesn't want their student reading it, they are invited to keep their kid home for those weeks.
     
  13. platypusok

    platypusok Companion

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    As for it being part of the curriculum, the standards read "or" not "and" so mythology is not a necessary part according to that and trust me that is an issue.

    We've (me, parent, admin) have already had a discussion.

    I hate to say it but I do wish they'd homeschool, especially next year because if they object to Knife of Never Letting Go and mythology, they would probably object to quite a bit the freshmen read.

    I do have a fairy tale unit that I use with 7th grade that I can tinker with and give it to her with copies of fables, so thanks for that idea to the poster upthread.
     
  14. chasisaac

    chasisaac Comrade

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    As a thought why not have them some of the Narnia books. I know this feeds into the whole anti-myth thing which is . . . well . . . well . . . it would be an okayish alternate and make parent happy.
     
  15. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I cannot imagine a Christian parent having a problem with C.S. Lewis. If you can get your hands on his novel Till We Have Faces, it is a retelling of the Cupid and Psyche myth, and it is one of my favorite books of all time.

    On the other hand, I cannot understand any religious issues with Poe. I specifically taught "The Cask of Amontillado" this week because it is creepy without having anything supernatural. It's also an excellent example of an unreliable 1st person narrator.
     
  16. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I have a few Christian family members opposed to Chronicles... :(
     
  17. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    My room parents advised me today the my one Muslim student's parents asked that their share of class funds not pay for Halloween or Valentines Day celebrations...hmmm, our class activities included making spiders with styrofoam balls, glitter and pipe cleaners ( science), q tip skeletons (health and science), mummy wrapping (history)... Plus dad hit on me at back to school night. I told the room moms to tell those parents that their money has been put aside for our spring writing celebration. :dizzy: by the way, the kid could partake in the activities, just not have his parents money pay for it.:dizzy:
     
  18. chasisaac

    chasisaac Comrade

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    Great book and one of my top books. How could I forget about that one.
     
  19. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    :eek:

    RIDICULOUS!
     
  20. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    I would have a HUGE problem with one parent having so much control over my curriculum. What a precedent that is setting-so the next time a parent doesn't like a book, it's out? Literature is not science, or math-you're not teaching it as fact. You're exposing students to a wide variety of genres, allowing that student to interpret and evaluate the text using personal experiences.

    So the student, who presumably has a strong background in her faith, is not capable of differentiating between her beliefs and stories of fathers swallowing his children, regurgitating them as fully grown adults and wild monsters, being raised by goats, etc. etc. etc. Way to have confidence in your child's abilities dad!
     
  21. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    Exactly.

    As a Christian father, I would see this as an opportunity to have deeper discussions with my child about what differentiates Greek mythology with our faith. My child is going to be exposed to many things that may cause him/her to question their faith... why not start at a younger age so they may have my guidance?
     
  22. The Fonz

    The Fonz Math teacher (for now...)

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    You're totally going about this the wrong way. You can not adjust for the parent. You're setting a precedent that you will now have to follow for the rest of your time at this school, as well as indirectly effecting other teachers.
     
  23. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    If this were a younger student, I might see his point. But an 8th grader? What a perfect time to start having that dialogue with your child about beliefs, others' beliefs, tolerance (what a novel idea! others are different from me! :woot:)...
     
  24. peachacid

    peachacid Companion

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    Many of my students are Pentecostal -- they even skip school to pray on Halloween because of the all the demons (this is how a student explained it to me). However, when we read Greek myths, their response was basically: "So they believed in these gods, like we believe in our God? They had Athena, we have Jesus? That's cool." They're seventh graders.

    I would talk to the father and explain that the method of instruction and the purpose for the inclusion of the material is not to indoctrinate students but instead to help them be critical participants in the world. Good luck!
     
  25. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    Good point!

    I would be tempted to ask the father if the child read (or had read to them) any fairy tales? In younger grades, they may have listened to Cinderella and her fairy godmother. Cinderella didn't pray to the godmother, but hoped for one. And a magical creature appeared. Pure fiction.

    Mythology is just a different level of that fiction and gives us a little peek into the Greek culture.

    You can also tie in its influence into our own language: echo, narcissism, arachnids, etc. :)
     
  26. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    What about having the child choose stories involving major characters and lessons from the Bible? You could use the same lesson plans and learning objectives and just have the student choose stories from the Bible that reflect similar themes as the ones from mythology.

    Seems like this would be an acceptable alternative in compliance with Common Core standards.

    CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.9 Analyze how a modern work of fiction draws on themes, patterns of events, or character types from myths, traditional stories, or religious works such as the Bible, including describing how the material is rendered new.
     
  27. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    You know how in some circumstances as a consumer if you want something "extra" you must pay an additional fee? For example, paying a photographer an additional fee because normally they shoot at their home but you want to shoot on location at your farm five miles away. Or you pay the architect a fee to modify his or her houseplan to suit your wishes. Yeah, I pretty much feel that if a teacher must modify or deviate plans for reasons other than special education needs or other "legit" reasons, there should be a charge for that. And I'm serious. I clearly don't find this to be a legitimate reason...
     
  28. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    Excellent suggestion, Cerek.
     
  29. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Be careful with that. Some people do not like it when you look at the Bible as mythology.
     
  30. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    That standard makes an obvious break between mythology and religion, so it could work.
     
  31. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    Exactly. I thought that they were referring to the Bible as a mythological work, until I noticed the "or":

    CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.9 Analyze how a modern work of fiction draws on themes, patterns of events, or character types from myths, traditional stories, or religious works such as the Bible, including describing how the material is rendered new. Emphasis mine.
     
  32. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    That's true, but in this case, you aren't saying the Bible is mythology, you are saying stories of the Bible can satisfy the same learning goals and objectives as the stories of mythology. Nothing more, nothing less. That would also address the concerns of those that might argue violation of church and state.

    (Of course, the cynical side of me would be tempted to point out that mythology was also once an active religion, so teaching mythology could be said to violate that separation as well ;) ).
     
  33. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I understand that, and I have made that distinction before, and worded it very carefully and everything, and still had students or parents not understand and be offended. Some people have a very hard time recognizing grey areas. I have tried similar activities before, and had it bite me in the butt because the students could not separate the Bible as Truth and the Bible as a work of literature to be analyzed, and neither could the parents.
     
  34. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    I understand the difficulty. I was just offering another alternative that might be acceptable to the father. :)
     
  35. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I came across a similar case with a student who refused to study Beowulf, despite the fact that Grendel and his mother were supposed to be descendants of Cain, because they were monsters. His parents stuck with her on this. My solution was for the student to read a story from the Old Testament (I might have specified Ruth because I knew there were no problems with violence or sexuality) and write a literary analysis. Perhaps asking the student to compare and contrast two different translations would have been even better.

    Shakespeare is an easier matter. If they don't want to read Hamlet or Macbeth on religious grounds, I hand them King Lear, as I already have that alternate unit planned.
     
  36. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    I don't think it would be the comparison to mythology that would be the problem. It would be using the Bible as a work of fiction.
     
  37. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    But the standard doesn't require the Bible being looked at as fiction. It states that modern fiction draws on Biblical references and themes. Many fiction books draw on Biblical themes or references.
     
  38. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    And to a teacher, that is probably clearly understood. To a parent, one already sensitive to the material taught, even an implication that fiction is being compared to the Bible can and will be construed as implying the Bible IS fiction.
     
  39. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    This is exactly what I was talking about. No matter how carefully worded, someone is going to misunderstand.
     
  40. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    "will be construed" are strong words. Not all parents are that single-minded that they won't be willing to work with the teacher. I can accept "might be construed" better than "will be construed". :)

    I can compare Charlotte's Web to a non-fiction book about spiders, or to the stories of Anasazi - one is clearly non-fiction and one (at least to non-Native Americans) could be seen as fiction.
     
  41. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    Not necessarily. I believe it's a) how you present the proposition and b) how willing the recipient is. As I said above, not all parents who strongly enforce their values are militant about it. I feel strongly about my values, but if a teacher were to come to me and be willing to work WITH me on getting my child to learn the standard, I would listen.

    It doesn't have to be us vs. them.

    I would suggest that any teacher has a face-to-face meeting with a parent and discuss it, asking for the parent's input. The teacher would show the standard and ask the parent for their suggestions as well.

    As a team, it can be worked out... rather than "There's no use in trying to change my curriculum, because EVERY single parent I talk to about this won't go along with it."
     
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