Class Goals: Underscores need to look up unclear words in order to accurately and critically read/summarize a text. Moves them into more independent response activities through group construction of a response to Dalton's critique of the Horatio Alger stories.
Connection to Course Goals: Continues focus on accurate summary, supported development of response within the context of academic writing. Also continues to cover expectations of an academic context in terms of audience expectations and how ot deal with texts.
- WTL Have them list any words/phrases they were unclear about. This may include (so be prepared to explain) (5 min.)
- "rugged individualism ethos"
- "merit will out"
- "racial pecking order"
- "social meaning of race"
- "dissonance between myth and reality"
- and "interring the myth of Horatio Alger"
After they present these to the class and you discuss meanings (or, if discussing meanings isn't going well), ask them
- What do you do when you run into something you don't understand in a reading assignment?
( They may look it up, or try to get the meaning through context. )
Practice this second technique by going to the paragraphs where there were difficult phrases/words.
Point out that one can't read critically without knowing what one's reading!
Transition: will take a deeper look at the essay as a whole now that you have gone over some tricky parts.
- Small group activity on summary of Dalton essay:
Goal: Students should be able to summarize the essay accurately by pulling out the main points. ( See grey-edged pages 48-9 for further suggestions on main points.)
Assign each group the following questions to answer, write on the OH, and present to the class. Each group will get one question that they will answer amoingst themselves and then present to the class. It can be helpful if each group assigns a member to write stuff down, to present, to keep track of time, and to keep everyone focussed.
- What is Dalton's thesis? (If they're unclear, direct them to paragraphs 1-2 and 13.) This group is responsible only for summary, so they must come up with his main ideas.
Response groups practice agree/disagree responses to each of the following topics (one topic per group):
- Carter's notion of the "best Black" (or the "best woman" or "best ____?)
Can they think of examples of any of these categories?
(Tiger Woods, Elizabeth Dole. . .)
- "each of us has the power to create our opportunities" or the idea that people achieve through merit
- What about Cruz's experience?
- Or Nelson's family's?
- "some illusions can be positive"
- Can they think of any examples of necessary or positive myths? (Dalton says the Alger myth at best "can help pull people in the direction they want to go")
- the Horatio Alger myth "fosters beliefs that serve to trivialize, if not erase, the social meaning of race"
- Look at Dalton's use of evidence in the paragraph in which he makes this assertion. Is it convincing?
- If not, what would be more convincing? (Note: This will get them ready for the next type of response, the academic response that examines the validity of the evidence). (20 min.)
(b) Groups present their findings. Then, to wrap up, ask the whole class the following questions:
- Do they believe, as Dalton does, that we should bury the myth? (paragraphs 18-9)
- What is positive about the myth?
- What is negative about it? (10 min.)
Transition: Assume for the moment that we all agree that Dalton is right. Now we'll look at a contemporary example of the myth in action. CSOW: This is an example of the kind of example you might want to refer to in your essays.
- Class discussion. Turn to the children's story about Colin Powell that you read for homework and discuss:
- What would Dalton say about stories like this one? What's negative and what's positive about it? (As they present their answers, remind them that these are the sort of examples or illustrations they could use in an essay on Dalton to show how the Horatio Alger myth is alive and well, and can be viewed as a positive influence, a negative one, or both).
Remember, Dalton does not say the myth is ALL bad, and they will most likely need to be reminded of this (many have a very negative reaction to this essay).
- What is positive about using Powell as an example to children?
- What would Dalton see as potentially dangerous about it use?
- How easy is it for anyone to achieve what Powell has? What obstacles could stand in one's way? (race is not the only obstacle to success in the U.S.)
- What factors helped Powell to succeed? (parental attention and devotion, access to effective education and encouragement to pursue it...)
- How likely would Powell have been to succeed if any of these factors had been missing? (whatever one's racial background, it is difficult to succeed without supportive parents who encourage and praise you, without access to contemporary resources -- such as computers or up-to-date textbooks -- in the schools you attend, etc.)(15-20 min.)
Assignment: Read the sample PRR essay and answer the sample workshop sheet questions. Choose which of your homework essays you want to turn into your PRR Essay.
If you finish early, work on using the story as textual evidence for a response to Dalton's essay.