The curriculum is asking students to look beyond fact finding and focus on an inquiry approach. Using an inquiry lens, students are asked to systematically question and examine issues and principles raised by the text, and articulate different points of view of the concept of womanhood. Students are asked to examine the text in terms of its representation of women and their roles in the community. What words are used to describe them? How are they included? What choices do they make or are made for them? Where are they missing? Students are asked to explore and discuss the construct of gender from both the text and how they have experienced it. It is hoped that students will gain insight as to the fluidity of the construct of gender within a community.
One way to encourage students to critically explore contemporary topics in the media and their world is to use literature. Acknowledging the social nature of learning and that middle schoolers are very social, a strategy that causes them to critically think and inquire, and discuss possible answers is a preferred methodology over a search for a superficial reading of the text. In this exploration, the role of the teacher is that of a facilitator. The teacher serves to implement strategies to target student dialogue. One such strategy is the Socratic Seminar method. By doing so, the teacher is still able to encourage students to challenge their thinking, while trying not to impose their ideas onto students.57
Sosa and Bhathena citing Dutro and Zenkov argue that students, especially those living in urban poverty contexts need spaces to tell their story in ways that challenge the deficiency perspective.58 Adopting this approach suggests a deviation from a traditional approach to literature to one where students are allowed to practice required skills along a more participatory and transformative path. The curriculum seeks to allow students to discuss literature and nonfiction text in ways that allows them to draw upon “personal experiences, using linguistic and cultural knowledge, and enacting fluid identities.”59 This curriculum seeks to support student voice and make connections to students’ experiences.