I review just about every book I read on my personal blog, and Brave New World is no exception. I think I have pretty well decided that even though I haven’t read The Return of the Native, I will study the novel Brave New World with my classes prior to assessment. You may recall that each of my literature classes reads three summer reading books, and I am expected to assess them on two books without benefit of classroom discussion, while the third is discussed in class prior to assessment and therefore becomes our first unit. I imagine that the themes and storyline of Brave New World will create material for discussion, but more importantly, I think the students will have struggled with some aspects of the novel, and I’m not sure I feel right about them being assessed on it without benefit of classroom instruction first. Of course, I might read The Return of the Native and find it even more difficult (and I know Hardy has a reputation for description and vocabulary, but as I have never taught British literature before, I haven’t read him — Tess of the D’Urbervilles has been on my list, but it’s never been a priority). It isn’t that I think The Return of the Native or The Picture of Dorian Gray are not challenging books, but it seemed to me that Brave New World is somehow more immediate. As I read, I was trying approach the book as though I were one of my students, and I decided I probably would be fairly intrigued by the book, but also frustrated by references I didn’t understand. I would be very surprised if many of them thought much about the book’s date of publication. I think if you remember Huxley published the novel in 1932, it’s amazing how much he was able to predict about our society. I happen to have enjoyed Dorian Gray, and I don’t wish to cast aspersions on a book I’ve not yet read, but it seems to me that my students will probably identify Brave New World as the most relevant of their required reading selections.
With all of that said, I created a UbD unit for Brave New World over at the UbD Educators wiki. The wiki has been pretty quiet for about two weeks. I assume everyone is enjoying their summers instead of working, which is probably a good thing. At any rate, if you would like to check it out, please do. As always, we welcome new wiki members. It’s never too late to join.