Should I allow this?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by ssenglishtchr, Jan 31, 2008.

  1. ssenglishtchr

    ssenglishtchr New Member

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    Jan 31, 2008

    Hi. I'm new here. I'm a high school English teacher who usually teachers the juniors and seniors. I just assigned a project where the students will have to give an oral report in front of the class on one or more works of literature. It's for the seniors and to keep them motivated I'm letting them choose whatever book they like (after I approve it) and talk about whatever they like (again after I approve it).

    For example, one boy is choosing to bring up the theory about whether Hamlet was truly insane by the end of the play. Another student is going to talk about how the novel Wicked changes the story of The Wizard of Oz.

    One student handed in her plan/outline and the topic she wants to discuss is how the plots/names/ideas in the Harry Potter books are derived from older works of literature. It seems like a very interesting and well thought out topic. She wants to talk about how the line in the book 'double double toil and trouble fire burn and cauldron bubble something wicked this way comes' came from Shakespeare, how one of the stories Harry hears about in the last novel can be related to one of the Canterbury tales, etc. It seems very interesting and I think it will hold the attention of the class and show them how this book that is very popular among children and teenagers can be related to school required reading. However I am worried because of the controversy surrounding the Harry Potter books. I am afraid if I allow her to present, maybe there will be complaints from parents because I know some people feel strongly that Harry Potter encourages witchcraft.

    Should I tell this student to come up with another idea or should I let her present this one?
     
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  3. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I would allow it as long as the student didn't bring up "witchcraft" in other literature that mirrors Harry Potter books. That sounds like a FABULOUS idea! And I think you're right in that the other students will be excited about it. If you think parents might have a problem with it, send out a quick note to parents explaining the project and see what they have to say.
     
  4. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

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    Wicked, being among other things about witches and "adult situations," is different how?
     
  5. ChangeAgent

    ChangeAgent Comrade

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    I say let her do it. If you fear that the series will cause a comotion, as your administration what they would do.

    I think that since the student chose the topic and is sharing her research, it should be allowable. She won't be converting anyone to any religion or philosophy (from what you said), so it should be absolutely fine. I would think there would be much more concern if you were teaching it--but as that is not the case, and you want students to choose their own books, I say go for it!

    It's very exciting to hear your students' ideas so far! Wow! Good for them! (and you!)
     
  6. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

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    That's what I'm saying, too, Change Agent. In fact, if you think about it, Hamlet could fall into that category, too. It has ghosts and murder and suicide and. . . so if those are allowable, Harry Potter should be, too. It is definitely a work of literature that has made its mark on several generations.
     
  7. Bernard

    Bernard Companion

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    I agree that "R-rated" Wicked is far more likely to be controversial than "PG" Harry Potter!
    I think that most of the Harry Potter hype has blown over. Many people who originally worried about it later became fans.
    Surely you won't have problems with high school students. It sounds like a great project!
     
  8. Dzenna

    Dzenna Groupie

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    I read and enjoyed both Wicked and the Harry Potter series. I think there's lot in Wicked (aside from the witchcraft) that a parent would find way more offensive than Harry Potter.
     
  9. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

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    Dzenna, I agree with you, but most people don't agree with me about the "adult theme" thing so I didn't bring that into it. We had a big argument about it awhile back and this was about a book for children, not young adults. Anyway, the adult themes are definitely there in Hamlet, but if it's witchcraft/occult references we're worried about then they are pretty much all three on the same plane, which is why I asked what is the difference.
     
  10. Dzenna

    Dzenna Groupie

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    I couldn't agree with you more! Don't you think high school is a little old for parents to cause a ruckus about works of literature ? Or am I just a liberal California Wacko!!!
     
  11. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

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    I think it's safe to say that by the time they are seniors in HS they are able to see the adult themes in everything, so yes. I don't think so with children, though. But I'm a California liberal, too, so who knows? :D
     
  12. La Profesora

    La Profesora Cohort

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    I must be liberal too....

    I think if YOU don't make it an issue, she wouldn't make it an issue.

    I actually think her proposal is really neat, well informed, and original. I give her props for the concept!!!
     
  13. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I'm ultra conservative in most issues to the point where some of my friends call me "to the right of rush" (maybe a bit of an exageration) and I have to whole heartedly agree with the "go for it" club. If they can't seperate reality from fiction by this age, they're doomed.
     
  14. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    ssenglishtchr, have your student look at the Latin, please.
     
  15. Learner4Life

    Learner4Life Cohort

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    I honestly think the Harry Potter controversy is more surrounded around Elementary School and teachers reading it in their classrooms.
     
  16. MrL

    MrL Companion

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    Heck, my HS had Stephen King on the shelves. Potter should be fine.
     
  17. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    It's relating fiction to fiction. That some witch in a previous book may have had something to do with Rowling's choice of wording in her books isn't saying witchcraft is good, or positive. I'd agree you can let her do it.
     
  18. Mrs LC

    Mrs LC Comrade

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    I think it sounds like a great subject! One of the things I liked best about Harry's novels was the clever selection of character names and spells.

    If your student publishes their work on the 'net (in a class blog perhaps) please send the link - I'd love to see it.
     
  19. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I say let her do it because she isn't really discussing the themes in the book as much as she is COMPARING peices of literature to this book. That's a different focus. The themes will pop up but that's not the focus.
     
  20. blue-eyed mom

    blue-eyed mom Companion

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    I would definitely do it! It's no secret that Rowling is very well versed in classical lit. She has written about that herself. Not only does some of her plots/lines, etc.. derive from classical lit. Many of the characters names are pulled from literature.
     
  21. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Let us know what you decide to do, and how the project came out!
     
  22. cheeryteacher

    cheeryteacher Enthusiast

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    I would allow her to do the project. If you don't she may raise a stink about the other books that are allowed (I would if I were her), and she would have a valid argument. Besides, Harry Potter drama has blown over. I work in a school system that pulled the books off of the shelves when the drama first started, and now they are back on the shelves, at least in the middle school and above level.
     
  23. Noggin

    Noggin Rookie

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    Sounds like a great project!
     
  24. ssenglishtchr

    ssenglishtchr New Member

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    Feb 3, 2008

    I have decided that I'm going to allow her to present the project. Thank you to everyone who gave their opinion- it did help a lot. The way I see it (as many of you have pointed out) many other works of literature being presented (i.e. Wicked & the Wizard of Oz) also have magic in them and that is a valid argument. Besides she's comparing Harry Potter to the likes of Hamlet, Macbeth, the Canterbury Tales, etc. so any ideas she brings up will also have been in them as well. Besides the girl is a good, serious student so I am anticipating a well structured presentation. Thanks for the help!
     
  25. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    I think it is fine.
     
  26. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Sounds like you made the right decision. :)
     
  27. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    I think it should be fine. These kids are old enough to distinguish witch craft in a book as fantasy. They also can make up their own minds about these things. I think it sounds like a fascinating thesis. It makes me wish I taught HS. We're still working on writing complete sentences!
     

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