Wednesday, October 29, 2008


The past few class days have included a great deal of lecture on what Transcendentalism is, from the philosophy, to the religion, to the literary theory. It is a new way of thinking that students may not agree with, but should understand. It truly is a way of thinking that very much still exists today (like all of our other -isms). A modern "transcendental" thinker would be Dr. Wayne Dyer, as well as others like those behind 'the secret'.
Students have worked in small groups on a worksheet on Emerson's "On Nature" (having read it last week individually) and have jigsawed his "Self-Reliance". Wednesday is a pop quiz on "Self Reliance" (main ideas include: trust thyself, non-conformity, society is against the individual, work to your full potential, and to be great is to be misunderstood).
Following that, we'll move into Thoreau's "Walden" selection in the text book. In fact, Thursday is the vocabulary quiz on the list of words and definitions I provided students. I expect that Friday we'll watch a National Geographic video with Leslie Neilson that very much mimics Thoreau. GardeningIt's both gross and beautiful, the essence of nature for transcendentalists, who see all as beautiful if a person is really looking closely.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Uncharted Territory...

Here comes the hard stuff: philosophy of sorts.
We are in the middle of Romanticism...the focus on nature for truth, utilizing the 5 I's of Romanticism to get there (to truth) while surrounding by nature. Most of the Romantic literature matches our expectations by being in poem form, but not all ; furthermore, it's not "romantic" like Hallmark. It's full of flowers from nature, not hearts from Hallmark. In reaction to the Rationalists' reliance upon logic, Romantics strove to break the logic barriers and go with their guts. Their literature reflects this.
We read William Cullen Bryant's (yes, he was 16 when writing) poem, "Thanatopsis," and have a Thanatopsis Wheel project due Monday. Tonight, students are reading up on Transcendentalism, an off-shoot of Romanticism, starring Emerson and Thoreau. In a mascot-icon, Buzz Lightyear says it best, "To infinite and Beyond!" Again, all through nature. Tomorrow (sub, Thursday), students will read Emerson biography and "On Nature" selection with questions in the text book to answer. Friday, much lecture information. Part religion, part philosophy, part literary theory, transcendentalism is here. It should hurt to think about; it means you're going beyond your logic boundaries and challenging you pre-conceived concepts.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Isn't it Romantic?

Tomorrow I will collect the virtue papers. I will also collect the reading worksheet on the introduction to the American Romantic period in literature during the early 1800s. After the Puritanical truth only by God and many rules, the Rationalists reacted by finding truth from within, using Logic and Reason, and certainly acted against authority when breaking from English rule. Now, we have the Romantics reacting to the logic users by relying on emotions and intuition to find truths. No longer did the settlers stay East; westward expansion had them moving and exploring nature. This is not the Valentine's Day sort of Romantic.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Most Important Virtue for Teens Today

After studying Benjamin Franklin's "The Autobiography", we are exploring his 13 listed virtues that he considered necessary for moral perfection. NOW, which one of the thirteen is most important for teenagers today, in today's society and culture? What is missing in teens and in teens' lives? What do teens need more of? WHY? Are teens missing the virtue and it causes problems? The lack of the virtue bring "bad things"? IF it is the most important for teens to practice now, why? How does it make a difference? Hmmmm?
Each student will write a paper discussing the most important virtue to teens today.
The final draft is due Friday, October 17th. Careful! The week is shortened by a day off and two shortened days.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

“The Autobiography”

Have a question on Benjamin Franklin's "The Autobiography"? Post a comment here at this post. Feel free to also answer any questions. I will respond to the same question only once, so read the blog comments first!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Age of Reason Rolls Forward

Last night, students were to read and take notes on the background information in the textbook, pages 13-18. Much of it reinforced the lecture information from the class PowerPoint, with some deeper implications and specific details surrounding the generalities.
Tuesday, students will read Thomas Jefferson's "Declaration of Independence" as a piece of literature, analyzing his writing style and specific techniques he used to 'make his point'. We will also examine the edits he made in the process, discussing why he made them, and how they changed the meaning of the document (on Wed.).
Following the small group work on the declaration on Wed., and our consequent discussion, students will read Benjamin Franklin's "The Autobiography" (such an original title, eh?). We will discuss many aspects, and have a possible pop quiz on the reading.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Final Crucible Days

Ding-Dong the play is done! After taking the part scantron, part essay (in a time efficient, planned manner, much like students will have to do on the ACT) on Thursday, we finished the homecoming week of on Friday with watching the movie, starring Daniel Day Louis and Winona Ryder, an excellent rendition (scripted by Arthur Miller, as well). NEXT WEEK: Age of Reason, with an introductory lecture, reading, and notes, followed by some B. Franklin, T. Jefferson, and T. Paine. After all that rebellion during Puritanism, times shift into organized rebellion in the Age of ReasonUS (time period in literature when revolutions were changing history).