High school English students are practicing formal discussion facilitation and participation this week. Pairs are leading discussion on one of four concepts in Anthem: control, the suppression of natural human tendencies, color symbolism, and language analysis. This experience differs significantly from a traditional presentation in that pairs are tasked with developing and organizing open-ended questions to encourage their peers to discover meaning, as opposed to transferring knowledge about a concept. The prep work required students to conduct literary analysis, record anticipated answers, and consider how to scaffold questions to achieve their desired goals. During the actual discussions, I’ve been so proud of the leaders’ abilities to manage the room, shifting power between contributors, and thinking on their feet. Audience members have been quick to share ideas when classmates are leading and continue to demonstrate essential discussion soft-skills like eye contact, affirmation, and appropriate posture. This experience is truly multi-faceted, challenging students to know the content but to think beyond it. The bar is high, and students are consistently rising to meet it.
Next week, we’ll prepare for a critical comparison between Ayn Rand’s Anthem and M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village. This week’s discussion will tie directly into shared aspects of the film and novella. I look forward to the connections students make. Parents, if you wish to preview the film, it is available for rent on Amazon Prime.