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"You don't ask us to remember books. You ask us to learn from them." Shifting Destinations in the Language Arts Classroom

Session 6
Christopher Rogers, Kiri Harris — Greene Street Friends School

8th Grade Language Arts at Greene Street Friends School is undergoing a redesign. The course draws it framework from recent points emphasized by Cornel West in his most recent book, Black Prophetic Fire. West referenced the four questions once posed by W.E.B. DuBois as a necessary call-to-action in response to the interlocking oppressive, dehumanizing structures, policies, and behaviors in this critical time:

What does integrity do in the face of adversity / oppression? What does honesty do in the face of lies / deception? What does decency do in the face of insult? How does virtue meet brute force?

These questions form the basis of our assessments for the year. Throughout the year, we ask students to take on stances while reading. What resonates with you metaphorically? philosophically? aesthetic-ly?critically?! We ask students to expound upon how they see these questions lived out in the diverse texts (novels, poetry, lecture, film, etc.) we consume. Through this, students are positioned as seekers through texts for lifelong nuggets and asked to contribute to a classroom community inquiry.

What does it look like for a language arts classroom to be centered around wrestling with lifelong, evolving investigations? What are the benefits of such an approach? What are the challenges?

Conversational Practice

Experiential: Within the workshop, we look to have a mini-class led by the students and teachers of the course. We will dig into a short text and ask participants to reflect with us, filtered by the six stances that form the collective lenses of the course.

We hope to use open documents to share notes from the session as well.

Conversation Links

Presenter Profiles

Christopher Rogers
Christopher Rogers


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