Most days in Nancy Barile’s English course at Revere High School, a visitor might begin to wonder when the real class is going to start. Discussions focus on plot points, character development, and persuasive writing, yes, but the text at their center isn’t Hamlet or Catcher in the Rye. It’s the television series The Walking Dead.
Three years ago a student who wasn’t completing his work dared Barile to watch the zombie show, saying he’d study if she did. Another teacher might have balked, but Barile had helped organize a punk rock scene growing up in Philadelphia and brings that “why not try it?” ethos to her teaching. She watched the series and then built an entire curriculum around it (content rated TV-MA means the course is only open to juniors and seniors). “The show has everything — sociology, psychology, interpersonal relations, ethics,” says Barile, who is in her 24th year of teaching. “We watch the show and dissect it.”
In class, students study all the familiar concepts of high school English, but they’re applying these concepts to a work they care about passionately. Through the lessons, they also have greater control over the pace and content of their curriculum. Barile says students who take the class are more engaged and show more improvement in their writing. The juniors are more likely to sign up for AP English as seniors than students who take other classes.
Read the full article on the Boston Globe website.