The “Contemporary Themes Through Literature” (CTTL) course was introduced in September 2020 at Pierce ACG, as one of the B Lyceum English language courses.
The aim of this course is to broaden our students’ knowledge and understanding of important, contemporary themes such as racism, justice, immigration, violence, and moral courage through the close study of literary texts. Furthermore, our objective is to help students understand how literature not only relates to their everyday lives but can also inform and inspire them to act according to the principles discussed in the literary texts they study.
Apart from working on key pieces of literature from all three genres (fiction, drama, and poetry), the CTTL course also includes a Current Issues component. Every week, students present to their classmates a recent topic from the national or international agenda that is related to the themes discussed in the literary part of the course.
As part of the course, we also invite experts to join our class (via Zoom) and to lead a discussion on a subject inspired by the literature. This collaboration entails both a presentation of the subject by the speaker as well as an interactive activity that engages students in problem solving and then in discussing their proposed solutions with the expert.
This year, we invited two speakers who drew on their professional background and experience to discuss the topic of moral courage and how it is one of the qualities required for societal change. The first speaker was Dr Yanna Lambrinidou, an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society (STS), at Virginia Tech and cofounder of the Campaign for Lead Free Water. The second speaker was Dr Deborah Jewell-Sherman, the first woman professor of practice at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). The students engaged in interactive activities with the esteemed guest speakers, exploiting tools (break-out rooms) offered by online educational technology.