Socrates was right when he said the unexamined life is not worth living, so teachers are called to help students examine lives - those of literary characters and their own lives -- through compelling stories and articles. Young people can learn to examine their own existence through probing the lives of others. One approach to helping students engage in discussions about moral behavior and how humans treat each other is through juxtaposing the work of a well-known nonfiction writer/orator with works of modern or classical literature. One concrete example from an eighth grade language arts classroom is the pairing of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech with “The Life You Save May Be Your Own,” a classic southern short story. Eighth graders who recently read, dissected, and discussed these two great works were engaged and amazed at how the story offered proof of Dr. King’s words about “poverty of the spirit” amid “scientific and technological abundance.” This revelation placed his words in a broader context than just the Civil Rights Era - a context that answers the call of Socrates to develop values in young people.
|Keywords:||Values Education, Socrates, Poverty of the Spirit, Literature|
Teacher, English Department Chair, English Department, Birmingham, Alabama, USA
Adjunct, School of Education, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, USA
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