Way back in the middle of the semester, I taught a mini-lesson on Laurie Halse Anderson’s Chains. I chose to teach this novel originally because I’ve read a few of her other works (Speak, Twisted, 3/4 of Catalyst), and Speak remains to be one of the best novels I’ve ever read.
So within my Chains mini-lesson, I presented this following question and an option for the Do Now/Warm Up:
“In what ways are Isabel and Madam Lockton similar? Use textual evidence to support your reasoning.”
The majority of my colleagues (students) made excellent connections that in some ways Madam Lockton is similar to Isabel because she has no power or authority with regard to her husband. She is also stubborn and strong-willed. One or two students even went on to say that perhaps the reader should sympathize with her and her situation.
While I try my best never to steer my students to an answer or the “right answer” (because right and wrong can certainly be subjective in English Literature) the point I was attempting to drive home was that Madam Lockton is a hypocrite of the worst order. She has experienced abuse and suffering at the hands of her husband, yet she treats Isabel in the exact same manner– if not worse in some instances.
So the question I walked away with is “How do I give my students room to breathe and express their opinions, while still objectively presenting the point I want to make?”