I was recently criticized for opting to teach Around the World in Eighty Days instead of Great Expectations in my 9th grade English class this year. My plan is to work with the Social Studies Department in developing cross curriculum assignments about the Industrial Revolution and the changes in transportation in the 19th century. Unfortunately, members of my department are under the impression that Jules Verne was merely "the John Grisham of the 1800's" and that Verne's works are not of literary merit. I happen to disagree.... what about any of you?
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Tell them how visionary Verne was. Grisham may be entertaining, but has he foreseen the future? I remember seeing a Discovery Channel show on that very thing. Even the UN has noted Verne's ability to predict technological advances. I did a search on "Verne visionary" and found these sites:
Wow! Thank you! I will actually use this info as part of my unit plan! It's very frustrating when I am trying to do something different for a change, but there are those on the verticle team that complain about not staying with the "tried and the true". Not that I don't like Dickens (although he is a bit long winded), but Around the World in Eighty Days really seemed to fit into our district 9th grade theme about Life as a Journey. My point is that if we always walk the same path, we're missing out on what "the road not taken" could show us!
Thanks for affirming my decision!
Oh golly! I think your decision is brilliant, ESPECIALLY
given the theme of the year. Teaching material "because that's the way we've always done it" is the quickest was to bore students and burn out teachers. Literature must be made relevant to today's students, and Verne's book is absolutely relevant! Of course, his creative inventions that actually became real things is tremendously interesting (I think Verne has more in common there with DaVinci than Grisham), and then there's the "cool factor" of those things that remain ideas. Who knows, though, perhaps sled-sailing is the next extreme sport?
Cross-curricular assignments are the best way for students to retain information and learn to think critically. So I say, KUDOS to you!! Your students are lucky to have a forward-thinking teacher.
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