The English and History departments at my school decided to set up an interdisciplinary seminar on the Civil Rights Movement for interested juniors. This is a two-week seminar that started meeting this week on M, T, Th from 7-8:30pm. There are five teachers and 17 students involved. We meet in a room where we can all fit around a table and converse with ease. Here is the seminar description:
An interdisciplinary History and English course, this seminar will address the fundamental question of how Americans bring about change. While we will look closely at the Civil Rights Movement as a case study in effecting change, we will be doing so in the context of larger questions. What are the most effective ways to bring about change? What has to happen in order to make people want to change? What if not everyone wants to change? How do we resolve conflicts about our most fundamental values? What are the areas today in which you yourself would like to see change? What ideas do you have for making that change: the political system? the courts? education? protest?
Students had to read Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon and Harvard Sitkof’s The Struggle for Black Equality before the seminar started. The conversations have been simply wonderful and the students seem to be thoroughly enjoying the experience. Last night we spent most of the time discussing King’s "Letter From a Birmingham Jail" and tonight we will discuss James Baldwin’s essay "Nobody Knows My Name."
Of course I set up a blog for the seminar. You can read the posts, but cannot comment. You will find a link on the left side bar under "Personal." The students are still getting use to the blogging format, but you can at least get a sense of the kinds of issues that we are discussing. I am seriously thinking about using blogs in my classes next year.