A few years ago I found myself beginning my journey into teaching World Literature to 10th graders. The first 2 weeks of school can be challenging. Your classes are leveling out. You are trying to build relationships while also starting off with some content.
Many of my fellow teachers were terribly uncomfortable with World Literature since they were far more versed in American Literature. However, since I was a young child, I have been fascinated with stories, characters, and well, just about ANYTHING that would carry me away. I was one of the few kids who could spout Arthurian lore and Shakespeare at the drop of a hat. But, where to begin with bringing this passion to my students?
I slowly started to realize that most of my students had no idea how to connect with a lot of what we were reading. Then I had the lightbulb moment- archetypes! They had not learned the archetypes that all of humankind have commonly shared for thousands of years. But, how do you introduce archetypes in a meaningful way?
I try to make their hands useful instead of being on their phones while also setting them up for success. So, I created an activity that does just that!
We now spend our first week together every year making their very own Archetypes Reference books. They record the archetype name, a brief description, draw an image, and then we brainstorm together examples they have seen in movies, games, books, shows, etc. They keep these books all year long to refer back to and use all year long to help with analysis of the various texts we cover. It truly helps to bring their analysis skills to a whole new level and an ability to connect with the texts in a more meaningful way.
My own students have commented in the past few years what a difference this book has made to them and understanding literature more deeply. It made me smile earlier this year when a previous student saw me in the hallway and he exclaimed that in his Lit class that day they were reading a text and he remembered, “Water means rebirth!”.
That’s when I knew that it was a tactic that helped many of my students long after they left my classroom. I hope that this tidbit helps anyone out there in the World Literature teaching cosmos!
Until next time, I hope you get a chance to travel through some pages 🙂