By Laura Kizior
Teaching the culture of life is critical if we hope to win the battle against the threats to human beings. Finding ways to instill pro-life values in the classroom seems easy in subjects such as religion or science, but what about literature? How can students learn to effectively communicate the pro-life message while they are reading literature in a high school English class?
The medieval poem Dream of the Rood chronicles the story of Jesus’ passion and death as if it were a medieval battle against sin and death. In this three-class study, students peel back the layers of imagery, language, and symbolism to reveal a message about the sacredness of all human beings present in medieval literature.
Written in the early 7th or 8th century, Dream of the Rood was one of the first early Christian poems written in English. Recounting Christ’s passion and death from the perspective of the cross, Dream of the Rood recognizes the power of redemptive suffering and the Christian’s fundamental need for salvation. Dream of the Rood is a beautiful way to meditate on Christ’s Passion, death, and resurrection from the dead.
Now, student’s can learn about the culture of life on Dream of the Rood, an elesson packet from the Culture of Life Studies Program. Focused in a three-class lesson, Dream of the Rood allows instructors the flexibility they need to integrate the culture of life into English literature classes. The culture of life and learning respect for every human person is not limited to science and religion class. Through their studies of literature, students gain valuable insight into how they should live the culture of life in their day-to-day activities.As students read and discuss the poem, they discover the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice for today’s world and learn how to apply the medieval concept of a hero to today’s champions of life. Dream of the Rood provides a unique opportunity for students to explore literature through a pro-life lens.
Dream of the Rood is suitable for high school students and can provide support in a British literature course, in a medieval literature course, in a religion course, or as a stand-alone work in a standard English class. Our complete instructor packet comes with the instructor guide and a CD-ROM with presentation slides and printable student handouts (including a modern English translation of the poem).
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Laura Kizior is a content developer for American Life League’s Culture of Life Studies Program, which stresses the culture of life as an integral part of every academic discipline. CLSP is dedicated to helping students become effective communicators of the pro-life message. Sign up for our e-mail newsletter to see how we can help you foster a culture of life at home and in school.
image: Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P. via Flickr | CC-2.0