An intentional and structured study of humanities give us the opportunity to examine the architecture of human interactions. We can then use our findings to positively impact our local and national communities.
We train students to mindfully read any text (novels, movies, art, exhibits) and to extract the narratives being shared. We ask: What are the crucial elements of a story? What information is the speaker or speakers trying to communicate? By mindfully reading, we get away from trying to supplant our hopes and wishes onto the character. When we do this, we are not listening. We are only reacting and projecting. A sincere study on narrative demands that we put ourselves aside and to truly listen to what is being offered.
We then ask our students to try to articulate a speaker or speaker's emotional connection to the narrative. More often than not, happiness and anger is seldom the answer. Our emotions are usually more nuanced and complicated. This is vital lesson for teenagers and adults. By actively deconstructing emotions, we allow ourselves to appreciate our variegated responses to the happenings of our lives. We can let go of notions that things are either "black" or "white" or "good" or "bad." Life is much messier than that. And we try to appreciate that.
This has proven to be the most challenging and most rewarding part for students. The "truth" element of our project asks students to try to elevate a speaker or speakers' narrative to an essential truth. In other words, does what the speaker(s) want also something that we want? Even when a narrative seems incredibly foreign, can we cut to the bone of the matter and uncover something that speaks to our hearts and perhaps the heart of our community? Where in our community are these needs not addressed? It is from this "truth-making" that we can make "product" that addresses our universal needs.
Novels Read By Students
- Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
- Hologram for a King by Dave Eggers
- Lost in the City by Edward P. Jones