8th Grade English with Mrs. Gregory

In 8th grade English, students are currently discussing selected works of Ray Bradbury, with special emphasis on his dystopian classic, Fahrenheit 451.  Students collaborate in a round table format in order to answer questions such as “What is the good society?” “What is the role of literacy in the good society?” and “Do the benefits of technology outweigh its disadvantages?” Bradbury’s message, written in the 1950s, is especially relevant for today’s youth culture, from whom dystopian writers continually demand attention at the box office and the bookstore.  (What middle schooler doesn’t at least know the basic premise of Hunger Games or Maze Runner?) In class, we consider the accuracy of Bradbury’s predictions and critique his suggested antidote—literacy and the eschewal of technology—from a Christian perspective. But it is not only what we discuss, but how we discuss that is addressed. In one analogy that I like to use, discussion is a team sport in which winning is measured by how well we work together to achieve greater understanding. The goal is not for one or two individuals to score “points,” but for students to ask questions of each other, draw out the quieter students, or clarify a point someone is trying to iterate, in addition, of course, to making insightful comments themselves. Students are encouraged to “let [their] speech always be gracious,” and to “in humility consider others more significant than [themselves]” (Colossians 4:6, Philippians 2:3), worthy actions of which Christ, the ultimate dystopian hero in a world marred by sin, would approve.