In a political climate when the arts are called into question and funding is threatened, I am reminded of my days teaching my 12-year-old 7th graders. Many of these students had never read a book on their own but once they did, not only did they become better readers, but they became wiser human beings.
Every year I struggled to survive another year of teaching while trying to give students the language arts skills they needed. I discovered my students had learned some very important things from reading The Cay by Theodore Taylor, a novel included in the Struggle to Survive unit, part of 7th grade language arts. After students had read this book, I asked them the question, What did you learn from reading this book?
The excerpts below are in the words of my students:
- Not to prejudge people but to get to know them.
- It helps to have a friend and that you should be cautious.
- I shouldn’t take things for granted.
- You learn things when you lose things after taking them for granted.
- No matter how hard the world holds you down, you have to keep trying.
- Even if you have a disability, you can still do most of the stuff normal people can do if you try.
- Not to judge someone by their looks or how they talk.
- You should always help others if they need your help.
- You can change things about yourself by spending time with one person for a while.
- Not to be racist.
- It takes something like blindness to let you really see the world that surrounds you.
- You should never give up because hard work pays off.
- If you use what you have wisely, you can survive.
- If you are not brave, strong and conservative, then you will definitely not survive.
- No matter how hard the task is that is in front of you, you can always finish it.
- It doesn’t matter who you meet or what you think about them, when you see them, it’s what’s inside that counts.
- It’s important to always have confidence in yourself. Always believe you can do anything, no matter what.
- It is important to stick together and have patience.
- You have to be independent.
- People are the same on the inside no matter what they look like on the outside.
- No matter what happens or who you’re with, you must always have faith.
- Blind people are just like us but just can’t see and that does not make them any less of a person.
- Even if you don’t like someone, you can learn to live with them.
- There was more prejudice around the world, not just in North America.
- You always have to be positive because if you just sit there and say you’re going to die, that’s not going to help you to survive.
- If everybody works together, you have a better chance to survive.
- You shouldn’t judge people by their tone of skin but by their wisdom, spirit and love.
I am wondering if our new President has read any books?