Who's in the Burrow?

Slippery Slopes?

Role Playing in SBA American Lit Class
Stepping into the shoes of The Crucible's conniving, greedy Rev. Parris for a day recently in her SBA American Literature class, Kelly Habibi found herself internally at odds with the argument she had to make in the makeshift classroom/courtroom (see the movie below or at http://tinyurl.com/3xpl4hn).

"Spectral evidence was key (to my argument)," said Habibi. "It's kind of crazy, but all of that was valid within the Puritan society of that time, and was used to convict people in the Salem witch trials.

"It was an interesting way to learn about the Fifth Amendment - to incorporate characters from our readings and see the relationships that exist between character development in literature and the Constitution."

Students in the class were presented the following assignment ahead of the day of courtroom/classroom debate and deliberations, which was attended by a large contingent of SBA faculty and students:

For the next two weeks, we will focus on some of the issues and underlying events that have unfolded in the texts we have read. Two of the questions asked of you several weeks ago were: 'what forces unite and divide a new community?' and 'what does the way a community punishes its citizens say about that community?'

We will now step further into these questions, and use the knowledge we have encountered through the characters and their tribulations presented in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter to debate the following (using the fifth amendment to argue your side):

*Should the government be allowed to arrest, detain, and incarcerate American citizens they suspect to be a danger to the state even without concrete proof of having committed or conspired to act against the state?

"They needed to write character sketches or advocate closing/opening statements, and questions for themselves and others to be asked on the stand," said teacher Joanne Knox.

"The debate stretched over 300 years in American history and literature to demonstrate that themes present themselves cyclically. The same ideas (desire, greed, betrayal, control, etc.) reoccur throughout time as part of the human condition."

Some of the expert witnesses played by the affirming side included Parris, Joe McCarthy, Rev. Wilson, and the Department of Homeland Security. For the negating side, they included John Proctor, Arthur Miller, Mistress Hibbins and the American Civil Liberties Union. Knox's husband, SBA faculty member Andy Knox, played the role of court Judge.

"By 'trying on' a character's persona from another era, students are required to look closely at text to determine this person's mindset, and to manipulate his or her understanding of content, theme, and context in relation to a character," said Knox.

And, despite being at odds with the character she had to play, Habibi, says Knox, was "strong - prepared, convincing, and knowledgeable."