This curriculum, Mothers Represented in Short Stories by Women, has several objectives:
first, to give students the opportunity to explore the development of women characters as mothers, specifically of daughters, and how they protect, support, neglect, inspire, and even alienate their daughters through their attitudes and actions;
second, to give students the opportunity to look at mothers as women who for better or for worse have dreams and lives, independent of their motherhood;
third, to create an opportunity for students to take a closer look at their own mothers and grandmothers, not only as women who raise children, but also as women who may have dreams and heartaches and lives as well;
fourth, to create an opportunity for students who are themselves mothers and in some cases fathers to consider how they relate to their children and what dreams and desires they may have independent of motherhood and fatherhood; and
finally, through lesson plans, to integrate throughout the curriculum skills such as the writing process, reading comprehension, gathering information and communicating findings to the class.
The lesson plans in this curriculum are designed to serve at-risk high school students who have had little or no success in getting their credit in a large urban high school. Often these students are not skillful readers; their reading vocabulary is wanting, and their writing skills are largely undeveloped. The absence of academic success has caused them to believe they will not do well in school.
At the Wilbur Cross Annex where I teach English, we spend a minimum of fifty percent of each day engaged in team teaching with teachers of other disciplines such as math or science or social studies. It is also possible to collaborate with a teacher of our own discipline during the day. One English teacher can teach the unit that I have designed or it can be taught with another teacher in conjunction with the unit titled “Daughters Come of Age in Women’s Fiction” by Dianne Marlowe. Because Dianne and I are both English teachers at the Annex, we are planning to collaborate to teach our units. We have found that with our at-risk students, both collaboration and team teaching bring extra energy and inspiration to our classrooms.
The fiction in the unit is multi-cultural; among the selections is literature by Japanese, West Indian, African American, and Puerto Rican women. The issues they write about, while they may be specific to their cultures, are at the same time universal. Students will have the opportunity for exposure to other cultures through literature and to women writers from other cultural backgrounds. They will find that mothers with daughters develop in ways that are unique to their culture but at the same time develop and live their lives like women everywhere.