8th Grade Perspective
Many themes have been revealed in this year’s eighth grade literature class. In fact, almost everything we have talked about has revealed themes but I cannot list 100 themes on my paper. Therefor I will give you the main theme. In my opinion this theme is simply to think for yourself and question everything around you because in life you will be told untruthful things, you will make mistakes and you will eventually have to make a decision that could change your life and many other’s immensely.
This theme has been showing its face since the beginning of the year. The story Oedipus Rex showed us that it is, in fact, very much human nature to make mistakes and how important it is to realize this and fix it using whatever resources you have. Then we got into the story of Romeo and Juliet, which taught us many things including the fact that when we base our decisions off another person’s decisions (blindly), we will most likely end up having hubris which will lead to some sort of downfall. Later we ended up on the Holocaust topic, and it was truly an example that woke us all up from our arrogance and showed us just how easily our fate could and would change if we blindly trust a person because of the bonuses or promotions they offer us. Finally, we looked into our own country’s doings and news, just to find that we may be headed downhill because of disobeying the themes that thousands of stories attempt to keep alive.
In the end, the topics we have looked into have really changed my thought process. Many people may think that our class was brainwashed, but it honestly is not that at all. I do not disrespect the government or America, for I love my country, but that does not mean things mustn’t be improved. And for improvement, there must be people to think for themselves and look into things on their own. This class has been an excellent opportunity that I don’t regret taking and it has taught me many things that I hope to carry on with me in the coming years. From now on I believe that we (my generation) can change things, whether it be a corrupt system or a family problem, with one simple thing: thinking.
I must say I’m a bit disappointed in some people’s faith, mistaking a yearning for investigation into 9/11 as conspiracy theorizing or disregarding a want for people’s rights as enthusiasm for guns. Under its layer on the outside, at its core, I really hope this class is a wake-up call, maybe even a good slap in the face to some of the more dull-minded. What has been forecasted in this class aren’t prophecies as much as warnings foreshadowing the collapse of our society as we know it if we don’t take action, and we better do it soon. I’ve always felt like my actions and those of my peers can someday change the world, but this class has really enforced the idea that the world will be put in the hands of our generation soon enough. And I think that if we don’t realize this, the power will stay in the hands of the power hungry and we’ll keep heading down the same road. We can’t keep involving ourselves in wars we start or have no business in. We have to help the world and our citizens; we have to get back to the principles our country was founded on. – Harrison, 14
The people of my parent’s generation do not realize or choose to ignore the fact that the powerful people are not doing their jobs to the best of their ability. It is a little scary how the few people in control of our country can turn an amazing plan that our founding fathers created into a corrupt system that is just as bad as the others. If my generation would wake up and learn the truth about our government instead of playing video games, watching t.v. and eating McDonalds, then I think we could make a difference. My generation has the power to make a difference, or we could be like our parents and turn a blind eye to the corrupt system. If we choose to make a difference, then the country and world would be a better place. I hope we make the correct decision.
In kindergarten they teach us that not everyone is like us but that’s ok because we can still be best friends. Why hasn’t our government figured that out? Why can’t they agree to disagree and move on? I think these are the questions we will have to face when our time comes.
Theme is a lesson or truth about life revealed in a story or poem. So what is the theme of this class? That is a hard question to answer. First we discussed literary terms as an introduction to understand the rest of this class. Theme was one of them. Then we transitioned to Aristotelian tragedy and Oedipus Rex. I didn’t realize it at the time but our teacher was opening the gates to what we would learn in eighth grade. After we learned tragedy we moved into Shakespeare and Romeo and Juliet. We did a bit of philosophy too. With Romeo and Juliet still fresh in our minds, we switched to Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth (the hero’s journey) and Dark Psychology. In that lesson we met Bruce Wayne and traveled through his hero’s journey as Batman. We learned what evil is and studied personality (id, ego, superego). Then we transitioned into Philip Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment. This all seemed random to me but now I see they all connect into a few words describing the theme; human nature, psychology and corruption. Those three words are descriptive of lessons in this class.
Our class is a very controversial class. If you would’ve told me that I would be asking the questions and learning about what we are now, I would’ve thought you were crazy. You slowly and carefully asked questions and introduced new material into our brains which dramatically changed our lives forever. We were introduced to ancient Greek, philosophy, literature, understanding of government and most of all, making a difference. There are good things and bad things in life and I learned how to answer questions to resolve most situations in life. Your language arts class wasn’t just punctuation and grammar; it was so much more than that. There are bigger things going on in life right now.
I think the main focus of this class was to help us develop essential life skills to ask what is responsible and not who. We learned so much. You taught us to spread our word, wake up and realize what’s really going on. You delivered your message through actual people and you gave us what we need to learn effectively. Our biggest lesson we learned was to wake up and ask questions.
The most important thing you taught me was to teach myself. I like to think of it as reverse psychology. By only giving us part of the facts you are teaching us to discover things on our own.
A couple days ago you asked me if there were things you could improve or change. You told me to think about it for a few days. To be honest these past few days nothing has come to mind. Your class is so inspiring and interesting. I used to hear some kids who weren’t in your class talk about how hard a vocabulary worksheet was and how in your class all we did was watch Batman. My reply to them is always we watch Batman to better understand concepts like the hero’s journey. I also tell them that we learn about dark psychology, linear cyclicality and Aristotelian tragedy. Usually this shuts them up
Being Jewish, learning about the Holocaust was something I became very passionate about. If I were to say that you could add something to your class you could make people more aware of the fact that there could be someone Jewish in the class at that moment. Over my years in school I have found that most people automatically assume that they are the same religion as you unless you look drastically different (i.e. black, asian, Indian.) I have quietly observed other kid’s behavior and found that like the Nazis blindly followed Hitler kids nowadays blindly say things without thinking of the consequences. I have heard many rude Jewish and Holocaust jokes. When I hear them I ask the people what they would do if someone Jewish was right there. Then they usually say something like “are you Jewish?” without expecting you to say yes. When you do say yes they are usually shocked into an understanding of their actions.
Everyone else also learns this lesson if they witness this. This doesn’t even just have to do with being Jewish. I remember saying to someone to not say “retarded” and they asked why. I told them it could be offensive to people with siblings or friends who are mentally slow. He then asked who and a kid a few seats down said “me.” His brother is autistic. This might be another idea.
But like you taught us about the hero’s journey and tragic heroism by showing us Batman, now you could teach kids about our not so far away dystopian future with The Hunger Games. It’s something many kids, boy and girl alike, relate to these days. I think it would be a great example of what a government can do when it gets power and also show linear cyclicality.
*** Major emphasis here because I don’t know if you can guess this or not about The Hunger Games trilogy (SPOILER) but in the end the capitol falls.
Teacher Comments (23:57)