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Chief91592

Fantasy in High School

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So I'm in college to be a teacher, and recently I've been contemplating an idea for a English class dedicated to Fantasy Literature.

 

I pose this question to you, denizens of Dragonmount. How would you like that class to be taught? What books would you like used? Would you want fantasy movies, music, tv, poetry, plays, comics and videogames to be used?

 

I'd love to hear opinions on the matter. Please let me know what you think!

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well, i recommend discussing the fantasy greats of this era: lord of the rings and harry potter being foremeost amongst them. those two have defined fantasy as we know it, most other fantasy books owe at least a bit to the great works of tolkien and rowling.

 

plus, they made epic movies that the students would love to watch im sure :)

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well i think first you have to define what type of Fantasy will you be teaching. will it be younge adult or adult? will it be classic fantasy or new age? will it be sci-fy Starwars/Enders game type or more magic based like WoT or Tolkien.

 

also, what are your aims for the class, liek will you be teaching how to write a fantasy class, if so whats your focus? World buidling? Character building? creating a unique magic system? using literary devices.

 

 

as for which series woudl i perosnally use, well i can think of 3 for adult and 3 for young adult

 

Adult

 

Wheel of Time

Lord of the Rings/Hobbit

A Song of Fire & Ice

 

 

i'd use these three because first their great and enjoyable storys that almost everyone can enjoy; all 3 of these also showcase alot of literary tools and can be used to show great examples of world building, character building and both creating a new magic system as well as workign withing the constraints of an older more widely used magic system.

 

 

Young Adult

 

Harry Potter

Twilight

Percy Jackson

 

 

harry Potter by far is the best as far as litrary wise in this list. Rowling usings alot of litrary devices (ie: forshadowing, ect) and also does a good bit of world builing. her characters are clearly defined and also grow which is important to a good series. she also makes fair use of a typical magic system.

 

with Twilight, you can enter into the angst side of Fantasy, but really as far as teaching goes that about all this series is good for.

 

with PJ, it's incoorperating history and bringing it to a level where the reader can relate, as well as giving an entertaining story.

 

 

unfortunatly, with the young Adult selection, you'd have to showcase more "What not to do" than as giving a basis for what to do. for HP, the down fall is the Magic system as it fails to show the negative effect on the spell caster. every magic system has a give & take and usually takes something from the caster, with Rowling, the wizards can cast magic all day long and never feel the effects.

 

with Twilight, well theres the characters themselves which are badly written and not well deined imo; theres also her treatement of werewolves & vamps where she blatantly ignores the standard rules which apply to these creatures. though she does do some damage control by classifying her "werewolves" as shape shifters *rolls eyes*

 

and with PJ, well again the characters aren't well defined, and the story doesn't tie well together from book to book and theres poor usage of litrary devices.

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you know, i see those books every time i go and am always tempted to pick them up. but then i remember they're another young adult vamp series and i've pretty much gotten my fill with that type with twilight. now if they're more kin to Ann Rice's Vamp series, i might have to check it out.

 

 

don't get me wrong, i enjoyed Twilight, for what it was, but it's not a series i plan on re-reading any time soon or even listening to again on audio book like i've done with HP.

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I think for young adult you could totally get away with Mistborn. At least the first book.

 

But you'd want something reasonably short and easy to read. The Hobbit would be an ideal starting point and it has the added bonus of being a children's book originally. The Lord of the Rings as a whole may be too large, depending on the level of class you're thinking of.

 

I'd not put WoT in here. As a series it's far too long to be taught in a single high school class, IMO. A Song of Ice and Fire is similar and probably too adult for most high schools to teach, and it's like this from the start.

 

ETA: You could perhaps try The Name of the Wind as well, it's long but how it's written makes it feel much shorter.

Edited by Elend

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The question was regarding how you, the dragonmount users, would teach it. I've got a solid idea, but I'm posing the question because I realize that I'm not an authority on all things fantasy.

 

Remember, we have 90 hours of class time (roughly) in a semester (at least that's how things went down at my high school). I have trouble envisioning anything any more than five books in the class (and that's pushing it, if you ask me). High School students generally don't want to read. My goal is to change that. With fantasy.

 

 

As for age groups, they're higschool. As young as 14, as old as 18, but it'd probably be limited to upperclassmen, so between 16 and 18.

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you could also add Narnia on that list, as well as His Dark Materials too.

 

Narnia has alot of christian overtones though, so witht he anti-christian movement goign on now in schools you might not be able to do it; but it's still a great story. it's 7 books long, but they're short books

 

 

His Dark Materials is 3 books long and has an anti-religous theme to it. perosnally i didn't enjoy the series as much and am still tryign to get through the last book. you probably know the first book called "the Golden Compass"

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You could contrast Narnia and His Dark Materials.

 

But, if it were me, I'd either pick one reasonably long stand-alone or 3-5 Hobbit length books. I'd have weekly/daily reading assignments and discussion of this during class. IMO a lot can be learned just through an active discussion. Maybe spend the first few classes discussing the common tropes of fantasy and a brief refresher on general literature, i.e. the story arc and story elements.

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You could start a writing project with your students - plot ideas, characters, world building... This would help to understand how complex fantasy books can be. Based on that you could discuss what would be easier - writing a fantasy novel or a novel without a fictional setting etc., you could compare those types of novels.... just some ideas. :happy:

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If you're going to do a class on Fantasy Lit then you've got to stick to the classics. Students have to know where the ideas originated, not just that Harry Potter is really cool, or that A Song of Ice and Fire is really hot right now. You got to start with books like Beowulf, Le Morte D'Arthur, The Illiad, Grim Fairy Tales. Try starting ancient, and then move forward. Fantasy, just like everything, progresses. Possibly even throw in a little Midsummer Night's Dream for something a little different. When you finally make it into the 1800's you got to look at authors like George McDonald, H.G. Wells, Edgar Allen Poe. Then in the 20th century you look at authors like Robert E. Howard, T.H. White (to contrast with Mallory), J.R.R. Tolkien, Roger Zelazny, C.S. Lewis, Mervyn Peake, Ray Bradbury, etc. Then you do contemporary with authors like J.K. Rowling, GRRM, Robert Jordan, Steven Erikson, Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, etc.

 

And since you don't have all the time in the world, and you actually want to get into these authors and their books, you want to pick probably one major book from each period to read completely, and then the rest of the authors you read bits of. So like the entire class reads The Illiad, but also 5 or 6 Grimm's and a few passages of D'Arthur and Bewofulf, then they all have to read The Time Machine, and then they all have to read The Hobbit and The Sword in the Stone section of The Once and Future King. And then they all have to read a bunch of GRRM's short stories out of the collection Sandkings. Something like that.

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ooo a plus side to doing the Brothers Grimm, theres a TV show comming out based on those stories; so if you wanted to use video along with the books this would be good.

 

 

given that it's a highschool class, i'd stay away from ASoF&I because of the adult content you deal with. if you did the series, i'd make sure to get a permission slip signed from the parents to be on the safe side. but i can't see a school board allowing that material to be used even though it's an outstanding series. college level yes, so you might be able to get away with it in a 12th grade AP class.

 

 

also, series size doesn't neccessarily mean it will be hard to get through. some series are quick reads, like HP or narnia; so even though their 7 books long, it will take a month for a reader to chew through the entire series start to finish. now on the flip side, you have a series like LoTR's or WoT, it will take about half the school year just to read the entire series or longer, plus that the Wot series isn't finished makes it a bad choice for a class right now.

 

 

i also agree with using the classics as a step up into it. you migh even consider using the Sherlock Holmes series, the stories are short and entertaining and each can be treated as a stand alone.

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My goal is generally to steer away from using an entire series. Personally, I love the idea of using Beowulf. It's great literature and very short, perfect for a class. I'm also high on using stories from Grimm and Arabian Nights. I also thought I was the only one thinking of using Midsummer's, which is clearly not the case.

 

I'm wary of using RJ or GRRM, if only because the sheer length makes it hard to cover the material in any depth. Probably the only works of Jordan's I'd be able to use would be The Strike at Shayol Ghul or maybe New Spring

 

I currently have two ideas for a curriculum.

 

First, a five book curriculum, using something along the lines of Beowulf, Midsummer's, The Hobbit, The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe and finally the first Harry Potter book, along with excerpts from Grimms and perhaps the Legends Anthology.

 

The second curriculum choice would begin with the Hobbit, and then feature three or four books which I would allow students to choose at the beginning of the year. I would then work to pick short stories by other authors to fit in between.

 

But this isn't just about me and my ideas. I want to know what you all think!

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My only problems with using something like Harry Potter are a) most of your class will have already read it. They're the biggest thing, and your high schoolers were growing up just as it was becoming popular. And b) they're High Schoolers, something like Harry Potter and Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe are for Elementary School reading level. Yeah, you can dive into a lot of more "adult themes" in C.S. Lewis, but you're also going to turn off the vast majority of your students who'd rather not read a book 8 year old are reading.

 

I wouldn't recommend a novel by GRRM but the guy's got SO much short fiction it's ridiculous. He's got enough short stories and novellas to spend an entire year on, and not all of them are as adult as ASoIaF.

 

I mean this is just me, but I would want to teach something to kids that they're not already familiar with, that would be of their age and reading level, and preferably something they can't just go rent the movie of. Even if the kids haven't read Harry Potter (and I think only a few won't have) I'm sure they'll be familiar with the films.

 

I like your second curriculum choice though.

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That first one's not set in stone at all. Those were more examples of the sort of book I'd like to use than a statement that "I'm using these books"

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When it comes to Martin, you have the Dunk & Egg novellas. They are set in the same world as ASOIAF, but takes place 90ish years before the events in the main series. They are short, quick to read, but still manages to give a fair illustration of Martins style.

 

And I agree with Kadere, stay away from Potter. Any kid that age that has not already read the books is simply not interested in fantasy anyway.

 

I would also recommend using the father of all fantasy - Homer. Especially the Odyssey, as that one is easy to break out a separate story from.

 

You might also want to consider The Once and Future King, as Arthurian legends have inspired many modern fantasy writers.

 

As for Narnia, it must be mentioned, but that would be a great opportunity to use the movie.

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you know, i see those books every time i go and am always tempted to pick them up. but then i remember they're another young adult vamp series and i've pretty much gotten my fill with that type with twilight. now if they're more kin to Ann Rice's Vamp series, i might have to check it out.

 

 

don't get me wrong, i enjoyed Twilight, for what it was, but it's not a series i plan on re-reading any time soon or even listening to again on audio book like i've done with HP.

 

 

What? They don't have anything to do with Vampires. It's a dystopian world where they have Gladiator type games.

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The question was regarding how you, the dragonmount users, would teach it. I've got a solid idea, but I'm posing the question because I realize that I'm not an authority on all things fantasy.

 

Remember, we have 90 hours of class time (roughly) in a semester (at least that's how things went down at my high school). I have trouble envisioning anything any more than five books in the class (and that's pushing it, if you ask me). High School students generally don't want to read. My goal is to change that. With fantasy.

 

 

As for age groups, they're higschool. As young as 14, as old as 18, but it'd probably be limited to upperclassmen, so between 16 and 18.

 

Hunger games would be good for them. The main characters are 16, 16, and 18. It also has violence to keep them interested, though it's not gory descriptive. It has a lot to do with survival and making good/bad decisions. About how your life can affect others, etc.

 

 

You could contrast Narnia and His Dark Materials.

 

 

You could, but that is setting yourself on a dangerous edge. Most of what they contrast in is religion and people are very touchy about that in schools. Unless you teach at a private Christian school. Plus, even if you steer away from it, it is bound to come up as Lewis was vocal in writing a Christian story and Pullman's book has to do with a corrupt church. Not saying that he was meaning to pull religion into it, or that you would, it's just a dangerous path.

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ASoIaF seems a bit inappropriate for HS to me. It's not that kids that age aren't aware of language, sex, and violence, but they probably shouldn't be exposed to it to that degree in school. Haven't read Martin's novellas and short stories so I'm not sure about those. I agree with Kadere about teaching the classics. Don't just pick any fantasy novels; pick ones that stand as really good literature. Beowulf (actually got to read the Seamus Heaney translation in my Brit Lit class), Malory, and Tolkien would be my choices (and they could all be worked into a more conventional Brit Lit class even).

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Discussing religion in a class isn't the end of the world with someone like Lewis, because he's viewed as one of the top authors throughout history. If I tried to use someone like Ted Dekker, however I'm sure I'd be met with much more criticism, due to him not being one of 'the greats'.

 

I do enjoy Artemis Fowl, but I feel that the series is a bit young (The same reason I'm steering away from the Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme, as much as I love them).

 

I often wonder to myself how well Joseph Delaney's the Last Apprentice would do in a classroom setting. I'm also curious, anyone think I should try Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett?

 

And I've never read the Hunger Games. I'll have to add it to the list of things to read.

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What does everyone think of using a graphic novel like Hellboy?

What movies would you use? Harry Potter? TLotR? Narnia?

I've gotten one recommendation of a song to use, does anyone think Music could be considered Fantasy Lit?

 

There's so much fantasy out there, and it's impossible to choose the best, especially if it has to be censored for a high school class. Hell, I can think of a Fantasy Video Game I wouldn't mind using. There's just o much media, so much cross genre stories and so little time to carefully examine it all.

 

I wouldn't even think of picking the classics. That's a waste of time for this class. I'm not going to teach this curriculum in AP. I'm going to find media that even the most stubbornly anti-literature students can learn to enjoy. And then my goal is to teach them to dive deep into it, and find the author's message. I don't care how much people say that Dickens and Austen and Bronte and Hemingway are classics and have such great things to offer. It's all useless if none of them are read.

Edited by Chief91592

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Like I said, I would use Narnia as a movie. Most kids will already have seen Harry Potter, as well as read it. And LotR does not work as a standalone movie, you need to watch all three. And that is something the kids can do in their own time, I think. Narnia on the other hand does work as a standalone.

 

As for comic books, I have a vague memory of seeing The Iliad and The Odyssey published as such. And well, if the kids are too young for ASOIAF, they are probably way too young to actually read something as advanced as Homer. I would definitly not use something Hellboy, as i don't really consider that fantasy. 90 hours is not a lot of time, not if you actually want to be able to work more thoroughly with the material, so be careful not to spread yourself too thin.

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