‘I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor never the tormented.’ Elie Wiesel.
I want to record how students investigate words and articulate the steps they go through when they examine a word. The quote above has been on the wall all year. Today I’d written the word humiliation on the board- we are currently reading various history sources, both primary and secondary, to consider the factors that influenced individual and group choices made during the Weimar Republic. Right now we are attempting to understand the ‘humiliation’ that many German soldiers felt about their defeat in 1918 and accompanying feelings of loss of honour. The signing of the Treaty of Versailles added to their anger and humiliation. This concept of humiliation will be a theme throughout our history investigation where we examine and reflect on the choices and behaviors that ultimately resulted in the Holocaust.
I had already printed out a Real Spelling matrix that I had considered giving the students but their initial exploration put a stop to this. They seemed so engaged by this investigation – all challenged by the word and the task of dividing the word into morphemes. They did not want to be given an answer, just given time to think. As yet … no definite conclusions just listening to one another, challenges, questions, discoveries, and modifications to tentative theories. More work to follow. The investigation today a brief 15 minutes, but enough time to begin to whet the appetite for more!
Huy and Upamanyu explain their investigation so far:
Part 2 of the discussion with the entire class:
Part 3 My second humanities class tackle humiliation:
Follow up work will consolidate understandings about root and base elements, about how one root can lead to several base elements, about the gramatical function of suffixes- the word class which influences the position the word occupies in a sentence. We’ll begin a chart to indicate the ways a particular suffix can be used… nominally, as a verb, an adverb or adjective. These are possibilities that occur after this lesson but we’ll see what tomorrow and the students bring! I loved watching Upamanyu’s reaction when Huy adjusted his initial speculation and proposed the suffix-ile. I am excited by Liam’s wonderings about the Latin root terra immediately provoking the question of how the roots terra and humus differ in meaning. Liam’s remembering of the root terra prompted me to dive into John Robertson’s Word’s for a Modern Age ..a host of earthy words!
Image: John Heartfield’s brave art satirizing Hitler and the Nazis made ‘laughter a devastating weapon to expose their violence and demagogy’ (Gale ,Tate Modern). Read more about him and investigate his art on our class blog, Hold Fast to Dreams