Stories and Merendino: Afterlight
One Story is a new, “one story” guided study class hosted by Jünger Zeitung that focuses on two main themes in literature. As the name suggests, students study their favorite authors with a clear and immediate connection to the topic. The core idea here is that each student comes in with a specific perspective and then builds on it at each lesson. At the end of every class, they must end up with the universal solution to the problem they learned about earlier.
During our first class, we learned about Machiavelli. Normally, this kind of class would be all about the famous word games played by children as opposed to the actual subject matter. This particular class, however, looked very deep at one particular attribute that we find relevant in the good ol’ politicians, which is genius. The teacher explained that, many years ago, there were people who were born in a certain time in history. These people are called Byronic heroes. And, as evidenced in books like The Alchemist, the belief behind the Byronic hero is that all their problems can be solved in a single heroic confrontation.
At the end of the class, I attempted a coin toss with my teacher and managed to win. It was quite an experience since this was the first time I had attempted to play a real coin toss with a teacher (even at home). In the beginning, I was all psyched that I had won and was determined to complete the rest of the class. Well, it turns out that a lot of homework was kept from students with special needs. This had me panicked, since my favorite topics are Spanish, Italian, and Chinese. It turns out that my math teacher, Ms. Pisira had missed the first class. She would likely have taken the second class, but unfortunately there was no time to reschedule.
Just recently, the school board decided to relocate the Math class. My heart was kind of broken, because I was so bummed because I really wanted to take these new classes at the new location. Without a doubt, Ms. Pisira is the best teacher I’ve ever had. While I was learning about reading comprehension and grammar in a library class, she gave me a play of an Italian poem that transformed the entire class dynamic. (And, the teacher played it on an iPhone so that everyone in the room could see the poem and the new poignancy of the poem.)
While I am not the best at math, there was a giant leap in my levels of competence once I started to learn about this poem and the connection to math. Since this lesson was very similar to the money quote above, I found that it would be a perfect setting for a classroom lesson on the lessons of The Alchemist.
In the masterful oracle of the classic novel, there is a wise saying that says: “Where things end, I will begin.” I think the same can be said of this class: not only does it have the potential to motivate students, but it also has the ability to inspire those who are interested in literature to read their favorite books.