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Lesson Plan

From Friedan Forward—Considering a Feminist Perspective

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From Friedan Forward—Considering a Feminist Perspective

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Susanne Rubenstein

Susanne Rubenstein

Princeton, Massachusetts

Publisher

National Council of Teachers of English

 

Overview

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

 

OVERVIEW

Combining letter writing, potential publication, and the power of perspective, this lesson challenges students to think about how opinions develop and change based on such things as age, experience, time, and place. Students first freewrite about the potentially controversial topic of feminism, and share their thoughts in a class discussion. They read and discuss the short story "We" and Betty Friedan's "The Problem That Has No Name" and review the history of feminism and the goals of the feminist movement. After examining their own feelings about those goals, each student writes a letter expressing his/her views on the topic. Sealed in a stamped envelope, each letter is mailed to its writer by the teacher six years later.

This lesson focuses on feminism as a controversial topic, but the lesson plan can be used effectively with a variety of issues.

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FEATURED RESOURCES

Letter Generator: Students can use this online tool to publish letters.

Putting It In Perspective—A Letter to Myself
: This handout explains the letter writing and publishing assignment.

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FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE

By focusing students' attention on meaningful audiences, teachers can more effectively explore writing and publishing with students. This lesson plan concentrates on what Rubenstein describes as "writing that matters":

Only when adolescents are involved in writing that matters-and matters beyond the quest for the almighty A-can they produce work that speaks from their hearts and speaks to an audience beyond that of the teacher. Unfortunately, most students are all too comfortable with "school writing." Tell them to write a five-hundred-word essay on "My Most Important Decision" and they'll spew it out with ease, the bright ones even remembering to use that sacred five-paragraph format! And when the teacher reads these essays, some will be "good" and some will be "poor," but rarely will there be one that takes her breath away. Even if there is one essay that does, where will it go from there?. . . Certainly there is nothing wrong with teaching students to write personal essays. . . But as a form it is perhaps overused in middle and high school classrooms, and when students begin to see it as "the way one writes in school," they adopt a writing voice that is academic and artificial and calculated to please the teacher alone.

The teacher's task, then, is to design assignments that will have a natural audience-and one that extends beyond the classroom. When the audience is real-and red penless-so too does the writing become real, free of the classroom clichés and studentspeak that spoils good writing. (15-16)

Further Reading

Rubenstein, Susanne. 1988. Go Public! Encouraging Student Writers to Publish. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

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