What is courage? Is it the ability to prove yourself in war? Or the strength it takes to decide you will not fight? Is courage being yourself when you’re different from everyone else? Is it doing something that even your own father thinks you can’t do? Is courage synonymous with honor? Is it speaking up, even if doing so puts you in danger? Risking death for the person most precious to you? Or risking death for strangers? Is courage facing your fears, no matter how big or small they might be? Is it forging forward into a new life when you still miss the old one? Is courage all of these things? None of them?
The following text set is designed to help ninth grade students create and examine their own definitions of courage. In addition to asking, “What is courage?” it also lends itself to the question, “Where do our conceptions of courage come from?” Courage is the focus of this text set because it is a theme that is prevalent in American society. To be courageous is considered a positive quality, but the examples of courage most often seen in the news and in history books are often narrowly defined. Students need to think more deeply about what courage really is, and to get inside the minds of so-called “courageous” people and learn about their motivations and their fears. Students will be asked to consider a wide variety of characters and situations, all of them potentially courageous, but more in depth focus will be placed on three specific categories. The first is courage during war or revolution, beyond the stereotypical portrayal of the one-dimensional “war hero.” The second is the courage to be different from your peers or to voice your opinion even if it’s not a popular one. T...
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...are designed to help them with this difficult task. By reading and thinking about a variety of possibilities of what courage is, students can both expand and come to a better understanding of their own beliefs on the subject. Through class discussions and writing activities, they can also share these beliefs with others.
Brozo, William G. and Ronald V. Schmelzer. “Wildmen, warriors, and lovers: Reaching boys through archetypal literature.” Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy
41 (1997): 4-12).
Feinberg, Barbara. “Reflections on the ‘Problem Novel.’” American Educator Winter 2004-2005. 13 Apr. 2005. <http://www.aft.org/pubs-
Wolf, Shelby A. Interpreting Literature with Children. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers: 2004.
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