An Alternative Pedagogy
National Endowment for the Humanities Seminar
This material was presented and discussed by Susan Ruyle of Saddleback College during one of the seminar's curriculum workshops.
of a Fictional Character, Historical Character, or Author.
Divide class in half; prosecution/defense.
Provide roll of shelf paper or large construction paper and felt-tip pens.
Direct students to use the assigned text and supplementary materials as support, testimony.
Together the group will outline the trial arguments.
They should not commit anachronism; arguments should fit the culture of the fictive or historical world.
Reconvene class (after 30 minutes or the following class meeting).
Tape "scrolls" to the wall.
Have student lawyers read the outlines to the class.
Witnesses, etc. may be called if you wish to spend more than 1-2 days.
The entire class is the jury at the end to decide the fate of the accused.
RATIONALE: This exercise
dramatizes controversial issues from literature (the state vs. the individual conscience; the use of "subversive" ideas).
requires brainstorming and group cooperation.
requires use of the text as support.
promotes higher-level thinking skills: comprehension, analysis, synthesis, evaluation.
can be followed up with an individual writing assignment, e.g. journal writing about the theme, an expository paper using the outline and supporting quotes, or a letter to the author or character.
provides variety and engages the experiential, intuitive learners.
Set the stage enthusiastically.
Provide the supplies suggested.
Circulate and give hints during "brainstorming."
Act as judge, lawyer, or perhaps as "accused," or assign these roles to students for bonus points.
Relax and enjoy.
Back to the Curriculum Workshop
Voices and Dreams