Course Preview: The Four Questions.

In 1963, James Baldwin delivered an address titled, “The Artist’s Struggle for Integrity,” at the Community Church in New York where he offered “…the poets (by which I mean all artists) are finally the only people who know the truth about us. Soldiers don’t. Statesmen don’t. Priests don’t. Union leaders don’t. Only the poets.” In Language Arts, we will activate students as artists to draw out and effectively communicate said truth by analyzing poetry, fictions, historic accounts, cinema, etc. They will be challenged to originally respond to four questions posed two years prior (1961) by W.E.B. DuBois: What does integrity do in the face of adversity / oppression? What does honesty do in the face of lies / deception? What does decency do in the face of insult? How does virtue meet brute force? This course was co-created by Kiri Harris and myself for Greene Street Friends School 8th Grade Language Arts.

Quarter 1: What does integrity do in the face of adversity / oppression?

Whole Class Novels:

Identity in Contemporary Fiction | Book Group Novels (choice):

Quarter 2: What does honesty do in the face of lies / deception?

Whole Class Novels:

Race and Rights in Historical Fiction | Book Group Novels (choice):

Quarter 3: What does decency do in the face of insult?

Whole Class Novels:

World Wars and the Holocaust in Historical Fiction | Book Group Novels (choice):

Quarter 4: How does virtue meet brute force?

Whole Class Novels:

The Individual and Society in Fiction / Science Fiction | Book Group Novels (choice):

This course draws it framework from recent points emphasized by Cornel West. West referenced the four questions once posed by W.E.B. DuBois as a necessary call-to-action in response to the interlocking oppressive, dehumanizing structures, policies, and behaviors in this critical time. Hear it from him:
Like what you’ve read? Be sure to follow Christopher Rogers for more on integrity and innovation in the Language Arts classroom, and The Synapse for more authentic voices in Education!