This unit is designed to teach mythology to middle grade-primarily sixth-grade students of various reading abilities and interests. It is intended to be used in English classes to enhance and enrich the learning experience and as a motivating factor in writing.
Reading mythology is an easy way to motivate students in class. The students can all read or listen to and understand the stories of the myths. They usually enjoy them. The question is how much more can middle-grade students, especially low achievers, be expected to understand? What are the concepts that such students can be expected to absorb?
The answers, I feel, lie in the teacher’s expectations of the children, I have written this unit for the student both to read and to enjoy the myths by learning and discussing while reading, Because mythology is a unique form, I think that it is important for a student to understand something of the nature of mythology. A student should have some idea of the universality of mythology, and some idea of the explanatory nature of many myths. I think that if students are reading Greek myths, they should become familiar with and remember the names of the major gods and goddesses. When the students read the hero myths, they should learn and discuss the qualities that make up a hero. Maybe not all the students will remember everything and respond to everything. Maybe those who do not will simply enjoy the myths. However, I think it is important that children be given the opportunity to experience more and to learn more. I think reading the myths becomes more meaningful to the students.
However, one cannot forget that this unit is for students of sixth grade age, and that translations of the original sources are therefore not appropriate. The students will not read the original versions, and they will not be given elaborate background information on mythology. They will read the myths in edited and watered-down versions, which are written especially for young people. Because of this, I have not found it to be relevant or important to ‘research‘ background. What I have tried to do is to find books for the students to read, and to try to organize the unit into a whole,
Mythology seems to be a natural way to involve the student. Most children of any age love to hear and read myths, and even to write their own myths. The stories of the gods and goddesses seem to have a particular appeal for their imaginations. They become fascinated with the exploits of the gods. Students especially love, of course, to read about the involvement of the gods with mortals. Consequently, children love to learn about heroes. Heroes are important to them, Children have all kinds of heroes today-sports heroes, rock heroes, movie heroes, cartoon heroes-and for different reasons. The heroes, however, who appeal to children the most, seem to have changed little over the years, These heroes are super-powerful, have some kind of magical power, are extremely brave, and are on the side of good. They are usually embarked on a quest which involves fighting some kind of enormous evil. One can immediately think of the tremendous popularity of Superman and
, The heroes in these films, as in other magical and ‘mythical‘ films such as
Clash of the Titans
Sword and the Sorcerer
, are indeed such super heroes.
Children seem to find security in watching or reading about the victory of a hero. However, they also enjoy the quest and the great dangers that befall a hero. Perhaps this is because they feel sure that the hero will win out in the end, that good will triumph over evil.