This Week in Mr. McAteer’s Classes: Sept. 23-27

I think we're ready now to explain to these two what "tragedy" actually is.

I think we’re ready now to explain to these two what “tragedy” actually is.

We are getting ourselves to a few endings this week, as you sophomores and you poets will finish our first foray into learning’ ‘bout readin’ and writin’. In AP, we’ll jump from ancient Greece to nineteenth century Africa, which may at first seem like a hop, skip and jump across the Mediterranean. However, it also involves passing through the rises and falls of empires, centuries of institutionalized racism and plenty of other advances that made the world a much bigger and much smaller place than Aristotle could have imagined. Heady stuff, right.

We won’t break it down day by day for this week, as I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep. For a little change of pace, we’ll reverse the order of classes.

Poetry Reading and Writing
While I encourage you to stay home and meditate on Monday given the uselessness of going to school on a day when our class drops, we will spend Tuesday and Wednesday with computers at hand so we work on the manual labor involved in turning the poems we like and our thoughts about them, along with our first effort at writing poems as seniors, into the first chapter of our poetry anthologies.

We will go over a process on Tuesday for identifying the details of experience and text that will help us write the introductions for chapter 1. These forewords will serve as the reflective opportunities where we can notice the important parts of our learning. On Thursday, you will also have time to work, but unburdened by computers. Friday will be share day. I think I’ll be able to score a bistro-esque table by then.

By now, you know that Simon is in a better place, and we’ll talk on Monday about the connections you noticed between all that you read this weekend as we work toward developing a reliable generalization about the role of allusion in literature. Tuesday will give us a little bit of a chance to recap where we’ve been as we see the consequences of dictatorship, as well as what happens when the symbolic bonds of community have been removed from society.

On Tuesday, you’ll find out who’s next, and it won’t be pretty, but the book will come to a merciful end on Wednesday night. Before we go jumping into turning our reading into an essay, we’ll take the time to reflect on our critical reading progress, writing a brief reflection on the best parts of the work you’ve done so you can set goals for our next reading unit.

And by collecting the reading portfolio on Friday, there’s no way I can ask you to do any homework over the weekend.

AP English
We won’t be synced until Friday, after period 4’s dropped class on Thursday. But by the end of the week, we will have gained ourselves a sense of context by reading WB Yeats’ poem, “The Second Coming,” whose words gave Achebe the title for his book, which makes the poem an umbrella allusion for the novel.

You will surely be victim to repeated reminders about reading for a purpose, but as your purposes may differ person by person, we will learn the principle of simultaneity as it applies to reading: you read to learn what every reader should learn about the story, while at the same time paying special attention to the way Achebe is faithful (and not faithful) to the principles Aristotle ascribed to tragedy all those years ago.

The first part of the week will see us getting through Part 1, stopping first to examine the intricacies of Achebe’s characterization of Okonkwo, as well as the structure of his plot. By Friday, we will have turned our critical eyes toward the way the plot and character take a turn through Part 2. You will have a couple of opportunities to write your thinking about the story so you can reflect and make meaning as you go, rather than waiting until the end to start developing a line of inquiry.

Until we meet again, adieu.

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