Summer SAVY 2019: Session 3, Day 5 – Archetypes and Literature (Rising 5th/6th)
On Friday morning we continued our investigation of the Hero’s Journey in light of a poem by Emily Dickinson, “We Never Know How High We Are,” which you can read here: https://poets.org/poem/we-never-know-how-high-we-are-1176. Since poetry is written to be savored, we read the poem several times, noticing new things each time: interesting words and phrases, questions and thoughts the poem sparked in our own minds, and correlations to the Hero’s Journey. Through our reading and discussion, we worked to understand what Emily Dickinson was saying about the nature of heroism and the Hero’s Journey. We talked about our task as readers to make sure we understand what the writer is really saying – because once we understand that, we’ll know whether we agree or disagree with the writer’s ideas.
Students asked great questions about Dickinson’s word choices and meanings: Who “warps” the “Cubits”? What is there to fear about being a “King”? And why would Emily Dickinson, a female writer, say “King” instead of “Queen”? Through our discussion, we concluded that the poem portrayed the archetypal “call to adventure” and the role of individual fear in potentially preventing a normal person from becoming a hero. Becoming a “King” or hero can be frightening, considering the great power and responsibility involved. Dickinson’s poem affirms the great potential we all have to become heroes while acknowledging obstacles to heroism.
Everyone took the time to put into words some personal insight the poem and our discussion of it had given them, then we turned our attention to a delightfully weird story, “The King and the Poisoned Well,” in which a king faces the choice of being dethroned by insane subjects or drinking from a poisoned well to become insane himself. We read the story more than once, considering the question of whether our experiences shape us or whether we shape our experiences. As with Dickinson’s poem, we worked to understand how the story seemed to answer that question, even though our personal views might differ. Then we held a Socratic Seminar about the story. Ask your SAVY student about this experience! In a Socratic Seminar, the leader only asks questions, and students investigate the deeper meaning of a text or issue by offering ideas based on textual evidence, agreeing and disagreeing with one another’s ideas in mature ways. Our SAVY class did a great job with this discussion! Some of us could have kept discussing the text and the ideas it gave us for much longer! Because students wrote down their initial ideas about the focus question (Do our experiences shape us, or do we shape our experiences?) as well as new insights they gained through our Socratic Seminar, they were able to see how their own understanding deepened. Students also completed an archetype analysis of the story, identifying at least three archetypes (In our discussion, we noted many more!) and justifying each idea with evidence from the story.
By mid-morning, students were anxious to return to their own stories! To make our stories as strong as possible, our writers became readers of each other’s stories-in-progress and offered thoughtful structured feedback, focusing on multidimensional character development, conflict and change in response to some encounter (internal or external), and the integration of archetypes. Students were able to type their stories after lunch, and before we printed out our work, our writers wrote short archetype analyses of their own stories. We were excited to share these with you at our Open House!
One fun and intriguing activity we did not quite have time to finish involved investigating the question of whether our experiences shape us or vice versa through many different stories. (If you are interested, ask to see your SAVY student’s folder from this week!) Students read “The Emperor’s New Clothes” and considered how the story seems to answer that question, focusing first on the perspective of the emperor, then that of the boy. We have read and discussed so many stories this week, so students have many possibilities to consider, along with stories they are reading and experiencing outside of SAVY!
We were happy to share skits from our final special activity of the day. A quick recap for anyone who may not have made it to open house: Every team drew four cards: a character archetype card, a character form card (the form the character takes – boy, girl, owl, robot, etc.), an encounter card, and a symbolism card. Each team’s task was to create a skit that integrated archetypes, encounters, and characters as indicated. It was fun for the audience to try to identify the archetypes at play. SAVY students have copies of our handy archetype reference guides in their folders, so you might enjoy recreating this activity at home!
Thank you for a wonderful week!!