Controlled Chaos

Last Wednesday, I came up with a lesson to teach my tenth graders what I think Lord of the Flies is all about: the dire need for cooperation and rules in order for anything at all to get done. Sure, there’s a little in the book about how evil we can all be, but for me, it’s all about what happens when people decide that their own personal goals trump the greater good (sort of like the anti-1984 in a way).

Before the students came into class, I had their desks thrown about the room, upside-down, in a big pile together, wedged under tables [students from earlier periods were more than happy to wreck the place for me].

As my kids entered and asked what was going on, I remained completely silent. I didn’t say a word to anyone the entire class period.

On the projector screen were these instructions:

The following must be done before class ends:

□ Get the desks back in order (6 even rows, 2 desks in the corner near the door)
□ Make a list of who didn’t survive the crash (absent students)
□ Organize yourselves into 4 groups, each responsible for a different job:
-A Governing Body (4 Students)
-Must have a leader elected by entire class
-Must WRITE 3 rules to ensure peace that everyone agrees on.

-Food Supply (5 Students) – Must WRITE a detailed plan about how you will eat and find fresh water on this island. We do not have any of our own food, but the island has fruit and wild animals.

-Shelter (5 Students) – We have supplies to make 5 shelters. In WRITING, divide the class evenly between the shelters. Ask people who they want to live with. Don’t put anyone with people they don’t get along with.

-Rescue (Everyone Else) – Come up with a plan for how we will be rescued. We have no cellphones or Internet access. WRITE it all down. Be specific. Yours is the most important job.

A lot of learning went on that day. I reckon I’ll be spending a lot of blog posts about it. Bear with me; it’s all (sort of) fascinating.

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