Over the holidays, I have read one of the novels assigned to my Year 8 son for this year, Wonder, written by R.J.Palacio. Firstly, what a great read! I read it in two days and thoroughly enjoyed it. The catchphrase on the cover piqued my interest … “You can’t blend in when you were born to stand out’. What a fantastic notion, one that has value for each of us as unique and gifted people.
Wonder would be a fabulous class read for Year 5 up and I am hoping to read it to my 5/6 class in term 1. It will slot in beautifully to our units on community and identity, raising lots of deep questions about both of these concepts.
The book tells the story of August, a boy whose face is hugely disfigured. He has been home-schooled by his mum but as he reaches Year 5, his parents decide it is time for him to attend regular school. This is confronting for August, his sister, his classmates and teachers and the book details this experience from each of these perspectives beautifully and sensitively.
One of the things I love about this book is the way one of August’s teachers, Mr Brown introduces the concept of precepts to his class. He tells them they are “rules about really important things” (p.46) and introduces a new one each month. The students are asked to reflect on how this precept relates to them by reflecting and writing. At the end of the year, students are asked to come up with their own precepts. I think this is a wonderful idea for helping students to explore some of the values we aspire to as human beings. One of my favourite precepts is “It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers” (James Thurler cited in Palacio, 2012, p.311) I am thinking of trying this idea in my own classroom this year to focus our attention on being the best people we can be, as well as the best learners. I look forward to seeing what the students come up with.
What is one of your precepts – “rules about really important things” – that helps guide you?
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