Abstraction: The Art of Ideas, Media, and Text


So my gifted students have been reading through Lord of the Flies (LOTF)–the classic distopian novel that reveals and comments on man’s bestial nature through the lens of a plane-wreaked group of British school boys. We’re nearly finished with reading, discussing, and discovering the novel together, but before we do I thought it best have my students practice the art of abstraction, or as I tend to define it, the ability of taking almost any abstract or indirect idea and marry it somehow to text or other media.

In this case, I wanted to give my students some fairly absurd topics that are all steeped in some element of popular culture and allow them to extrapolate on how a topic as obtuse as Miley Cyrus might connect and resemble elements of LOTF. The goal is simple–develop student ability to connect ideas beyond the text in such a way that develops a different–and in this case multimodial–re-imaging of ideas present in the original text.

While I do not have any of their work back yet (they’re literally working on it right now). I can see just by observing them that they are going from confusion and struggle to excitement and connectivity. I’ll look forward to sharing some of the resulting work here next week!

In the meantime, here is a list of topics I threw at them:

Miley Cyrus
The Ukrainian Revolt
American Idol
Harry Potter
The Lego Movie
Adventure Time
Star Wars
The Walking Dead

Some topics are probably easier than others to connect with, but what I’m interested in is what creative connections some may make with even the more obvious topic choices. The resulting product will be a PPT slide that demonstrates their connections from the topic to the book, specifically a passage in the book that demonstrates the connection best. I believe the plan will be to have them present these ideas next week as well for the entire class to consume. This could be a project worth expanding in the future as well to include more multimodality.

I’ll keep you posted. Cheers!

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