Reflection: Student Communication Tasting Vinegar: Introductions to Asian Philosophy and Literary Style - Section 3: Whole Class Introduction to To Live


Of all the books that I teach this year, I was most worried about starting To Live. It doesn't have the violence of sexual content of some of the dystopian novels, but I am also teaching this novel to the whole class, which makes it a totally different prospect. 

The main issue with this book is that it has quite a bit of foul language in it. I talked to students about this about a week ago and encouraged them to talk with their parents or with me if they were worried that it would be a problem. With the conversation I had with my student about social commentary a few weeks ago, I specifically pulled that student aside to make sure she was going to be okay with the language/content of the book. 

As I anticipated, there were no complaints or concerns brought to my attention prior to starting the book. The one student I talked to individually, though, came to see me after class today.

As was the case with our first interaction about controversial materials, she was very mature when she told me that she was having a hard time reading the book. She had read ahead from where we got as a class today (she checked out the book a day early) and was upset by how awful the main character's behavior and actions towards the women in book were.

Thankfully, I was able to tell her that this behavior was purposefully terrible as it represents the first stages of personal enlightenment that Fugui must go through as he seeks to be a whole and moral man. She seemed appeased by this and had said she wanted to stick it out. I'm going to check in with her again next week to see if she feels a little better about the book/character once we've gotten further into the text. In the meantime, I am going to use her as a gauge for the rest of my students moving forward and hope that if my most sensitive student is okay that others will be too. 

  Teaching Books That Are Potentially Controversial
  Student Communication: Teaching Books That Are Potentially Controversial
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Tasting Vinegar: Introductions to Asian Philosophy and Literary Style

Unit 17: Literary Texts: Analyzing Modern Conflict
Lesson 1 of 11

Objective: SWBAT analyze particular points of view reflected in world literature from outside the U.S. by participating in class discussion of Chinese philosophy and literary style.

Big Idea: Today we will start reading To Live, a modern Chinese novel. Before we begin looking specifically at the text, we will spend time looking at the vast and diverse thinking and style of Chinese literary history.

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