“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”
— James Madison, writer of The Constitution and fourth President of the United States
Again, it has been a long time since I posted. I’ve just been too fed up with all that was going on other than the Olympics, and school hasn’t started yet. But I had a few thoughts as the school year approaches and they all come out of the quote from Madison.
Over the past few weeks, I have been working on curricula for my upcoming classes. It’s been a while since I taught AP Lit, so I wanted to freshen up my curriculum a bit. I’m also back teaching Journalism after a year off from it, so I wanted to refresh what I did before and try to improve what wanted to do this year. I also am reviewing what I did in the past year with my sophomores and my Film as Lit class, just to rework what didn’t work and, maybe, add some things that I think might work better with the upcoming classes. With all this reviewing and revising of curricula, I kept having to ask myself: What exactly do I want my students to achieve? What do I really want them to learn?
The answer for ALL five of my classes (four preps) is the same: I want them to learn to think critically about the world around them. That’s my ultimate goal. Sure, I want my classes to learn some appreciation of good literature and film. Yes, I want my Journalism class to learn how to write journalistically instead of academically and be able to produce good works of journalism. Of course, I want my AP students to know all the tricks of taking the AP Exam and have the amount of knowledge necessary for getting a 5 on it.
But all that doesn’t make the world a better place. Having critically thinking, individual human beings does. Having young people with a solid basis of knowledge from which to draw logical and reasonable conclusions and knowing how to USE logic to come to those conclusions, is much more important than understanding that 1984 is not just a good story, it’s a warning for people who follow authority blindly. It’s certainly NOT instruction on how to run a country. *cough cough*
So, by getting them to THINK at all for themselves makes them better citizens and better people over all, who can look at the world around them and understand that people try to make them afraid in order to control them, not because there is any true reason to be afraid.