Summer SAVY 2017, Session 3/Day 3- Truth vs. Perception (Rising 6th/7th)
I have a PhD in 20th-century American literature, so I am at my happiest and most exciting when discussing fiction with people. And to my mind, there’s no better place to explore ideas about how truths vary and how perception influences people’s reality.
Continuing Tuesday’s discussion of satire and how authors alter audience’s perception to expose a truth, we spent some time with Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.” I brought in an article from the satirical newspaper The Onion and had students write and share their own satirical modest proposals about some kind of social justice issue. I talked with students about how hard satire is for some people to understand, that oftentimes, they are so used to believing everything they read without questioning it and that we have such a glut of information coming at us at all times, they cannot see when satire is being used to critique some kind of social ill. It’s a good cautionary tale to students to remember to question sources, context, and author’s intent. Students then, after brainstorming relevant social ills or inequities, came up with their own modest proposals.
We then read Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery,” which deals with how small towns perceive and ultimately accept without question certain, destructive truths. Students filled in literary analysis wheels so they could start to learn certain literary terms like mood, tone, point of view, setting, and symbol and then looked at the way these things are portrayed in the graphic novel version of the story.
After lunch, we read and discussed an excerpt from Sherman Alexie’s YA graphic novel, The Diary of a Part-Time Indian. We reviewed some of the same concepts from yesterday’s discussion of Yuen’s American Born Chinese. Since cultural stereotypes come to use as perceptions of a truth we often accept without questioning, I thought it was important to again address this issue. This is one of Alexie’s main themes so I asked students first what kinds of stereotypes they had about Native Americans (Indians, as Alexie calls them), and how stereotypes are untrue and how they can negatively impact our relationship with other people.We discussed how our prejudged perceptions of others doesn’t necessarily line up with the truth, and how those perceptions can be hurtful and dangerous in some cases.
Again, the students have an excerpt from Alexie’s excellent novel, if they’re interested in reading the whole thing. There are also a whole slew of graphic novels for the YA audience, so I’ve included a list from the American Library Association here: http://www.ala.org/yalsa/great-graphic-novels#top10