June 23, 2011
Vonnegut Workshop to Help High School Teachers

English teachers looking to spice up their curriculum will be able to do so with the help of a Hoosier. The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library is offering a free workshop to teachers who hope to incorporate Vonnegut’s writings into their curriculum. The workshop will help teachers grasp how to teach Vonnegut’s writing, which implores a new level of critical thinking that is different from most other high school English novels. The workshop will be directed by Rodney Allen, a Vonnegut scholar and will focus on course plans that can be taught at the AP level. “Dr. Allen is one of the best sources in the world for information about Kurt Vonnegut, and it will be a pleasure to host his visit. We hope our teachers will come away thinking that the program is worth the time and effort as we look forward to expanding it to other areas of the state in future years,” said Julia Whitehead, the Executive Director of the KVML. The workshop will take place on July 18-22 and is limited to 15 teachers. For more information on the program you can go to http://www.vonnegutlibrary.org or send an email to info@vonnegutlibrary.org.

Having just graduated from high school not too long ago I think this is a fantastic idea. Most books you read in English class are straight laced and traditional. To me, Vonnegut has always represented the opposite. He seems to speak freely and offers stories that are unique and unheralded in most high school English classes. While I enjoy a multitude of genres, an eighteen year old can only stand so much of Wuthering Heights before he needs some spontaneity. Vonnegut offers plenty of unexpected and darkly funny moments. A great example of this whimsical style can be seen in my favorite Vonnegut classic, Breakfast of Champions. At multiple points of the story Vonnegut finds it useful to not only describe but also draw various parts of the human anatomy. When I read those parts of the book I was shocked because you aren’t supposed to read about things like that in school! But this is why it is perfect for a high school class. It offers a new perspective and angle to writing that most kids are not exposed to through the required reading in high school. Hopefully reading something as brilliant and unique as Vonnegut will inspire a student who doesn’t feel as inspired by the typical English class curriculum.

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