The Transformative Potential of Literature

11 Jan
Clearwater Lake in the morning

Clearwater Lake in the morning

This is the view I woke up to every day that I stayed in the little cottage on Clearwater Lake. Then, I drove twenty-five minutes through beautiful countryside to the school in order to teach one-hundred and twenty-four grade six students. Over the course of the two weeks of my visit, we read the novel, The Beech Nut of Big Water Beach, and students engaged in the novel study and the various activities geared toward raising student consciousness of the bullying scenario.

The beauty of literature is that we immerse into what John Gardner calls “the fictional dream,” and in that state, we learn and grow in insight and we are ultimately transformed by the experience. Students who read The Beech Nut of Big Water Beach tell me that they love the novel. They empathize with the bullied main character, Munro, who is a loveable, humorous, complicated, and quirky kid. They see that his peer group—like their own peer groups—is made up of kids who varyingly take on bully, bullied, and bystander roles.

Reading The Beech Nut of Big Water Beach with Students

Reading The Beech Nut of Big Water Beach with Students

As the novel study unfolds, students integrate an understanding of the fictional peer group, and they acquire insight into destructive behaviors.

Consciousness is our only hope in combating the human shadow, and this package has allowed numerous classrooms to raise consciousness of the bullying scenario.

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