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Oliver Jeffer’s whimsical tale: The Incredible Book Eating Boy. Note his consumption of and voracious appetite for words!

Our deeds still travel with us from afar/And what we have been makes us what we are.” George Eliot, Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life. Until this year I had not read Middlemarch but now, somewhat like The Incredible Book Eating Boy pictured above, I am devouring it and at the moment see Elliot inspiration and wit and truth in every sentence I read. Elliot’s sentence above seems apt when considering integrity.

For the past few days we have been wrestling with integrity.

Watch as Huy discovers more bases… he is so ahead of me at this point! The room starts buzzing and we go further… by the end of the day and at the end of my second humanities class we had discovered potentially 10 base elements springing from this root into Present Day English!

See the final way Nina and Oluwadara chose to share their discoveries with the class. This represents many students’ findings and has been helpful in showing the difference between root and base element, showing how one root can lead to a proliferation (proleaferation!) of base elements in PDE. This is by no means complete but represents our discoveries so far.

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Over the course of the year we have explored integrity through fiction and history and we today  applaud the students of Wilcox High in Georgia who show what it is to have integrity and take action in their plans to have an integrated prom. (Thanks to Pete Bowers for the link to this news item which inspired our Global Issues class and deepened our understanding of integrity. ) After reading this article and watching CNN, we read about other battles to have integrated proms, as in Charleston.  We see that integration did not cease to be an issue in the sixties! It is so interesting and ultimately inspiring to show issues such as this to my students in an international school. There was dead silence as we watched the CNN report and read about this.. then students, speaking passionately, were both perplexed and outraged. These are students who, when they stretch out their arms and look at skin colour, represent every possible shade on the spectrum! ‘What is race and skin colour? Is it not political?’  one student asked.

We watched a segement  of the documentary Prom Night in Mississipi.  It was in 1997 Morgan Freeman, Mississippi  local, offered to cover the costs of the Charleston High School prom but only if it was integrated. He was turned down. Ten years later in 2008 he made his offer again. This time his offer was accepted.

Watch an excerpt from the documentary where Morgan Freeman explains to students why he wants to support integrated prom:

We also watched and listened to Jonathan Lykes perform his poem inspired by his Facing History, Facing Ourselves course in ninth grade. (This is the course that has inspired our Grade 7 humanities team and is central to our year long work around identity, justice, belonging and integrity).

Jonathan is proof of the power of words. Connecting literature, historical readings, news stories, poetry, film and art helps students  rework and explore their understandings of words and concepts. It is through words that prejudice, expectations, indifference, injustice, can be exposed. Words and word knowledge can empower and transform the individual and society. I want my students to have a voracious appetite like Jeffer’s incredible book eating boy. I want my students to devour words and use words to transform themselves and others as Jonathan Lykes above does.  It is through the study of words that I hope my students will inspire others to join them and stand up and live a life of integrity.

“Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.”
― Samuel JohnsonThe History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia

Read and find out more:

Read about the documentary Prom Night in Mississipi in The Independent.

Read more about Jonathan Lykes here.

Read about Oliver Jeffer’s brilliant picture books in this Guardian Newspaper article and see more of The Incredible Book Eating Boy

Read about the influence of Maurice Sendak on Jeffers and a review of This Moose Belongs to Me. So much of Jeffers work revolves around identity,conformity, belonging and yes integrity!

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