Books allow the opportunity to see a window into another world, as well as a chance to have a deeper understanding of the world we live in. While reading The Outsiders, seventh grade students had the opportunity for both. The Outsiders, acclaimed for its ability to connect to teenagers, focuses on two rival gangs, divided by social class, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as is told through the eyes of fourteen-year old Ponyboy Curtis. After discussions of what it means to be an outsider, and essays on who was the bigger disgrace to society- the Greasers or the Socs, English classes were asked to find a situation in the news and relate it to the themes they identified in the book. They presented these through iMovies, powerpoints, realistic fiction writings, poster presentations, artistic creations and even in song. As students reflected on the lives of their neighbors, friends, family members and even themselves, they discovered that people felt like outsiders due to autism spectrum disorder, race, sexual orientation, divorce, lack of water, and plenty more. The English teachers couldn’t be prouder of the thoughtfulness and empathy the students demonstrated throughout this project, as well as the connections they made to the novel. While some students took the approach of creating awareness of a social situation, others took to expanding on this understanding by walking in another’s shoes or looking at ways in which outsider groups are included in mainstream society. This attempt at connection is not isolated to English alone, as similar conversations have occurred in advisory, Town Hall grade level time, and with Mr. Bhat in the cultural competency curriculum. We embrace these opportunities because we know that such understandings create a deeper understanding, as well as allow our students to be reflective participants in the world we live in.
-Laura Boroughf- 7th Grade English & Social Studies, 7th Grade Coordinator