Monday, April 25, 2005


Why The Lorax?

"And at that very moment, we heard a loud whack!
From outside in the fields came a sickening smack
of an axe on a tree. Then we heard the tree fall.
The very last Truffula Tree of them all!"
(The Lorax By Dr. Seuss)
The book Collapse by Jared Diamond is one of those books I have not gotten around to reading yet. Although, I am half way through his book Guns, Germs and Steel. Our History class (the one I am team teaching) is beginning to delve into reasons behind why world civilizations rose and fell...very huge task to uncover in a short time. But what's been fun is that the Head of School and I are using our outside readings and integrating them into the course for historical perspective and to also make it palatable for the students. Dr. Lewis shared with me today how Collapse (which basically deals with how civilizations have fallen over time) and Dr. Seuss' The Lorax have a similar theme of cutting down "that last tree." (I actually read Gladwell's review of Collapse, and he points out that Diamond writes “I have often asked myself, ‘What did the Easter Islander who cut down the last palm tree say while he was doing it?’ ) Then I started thinking of a current events tie in we could use in the class. Remember the American born nun, Sr.Stang who was gunned down in Brazil for trying to protect the Amazon rain forest? Her story is symbolic because she died believing in her cause to not allow people to keep cutting down trees.
So, will the students fully understand why some civilizations fell and others grew? Probably not right away. But making the connection to The Lorax story, and Sr. Stang will hopefully take Diamond's driving question to another level. Maybe...the students will begin to see how civilizations could have been saved? Or maybe, they'll read a little deeper into the genius of the Dr. Seuss books. Or, they can follow the life of Sr. Stang and her lifelong mission of saving the Amazon. Either way, they will leave class tomorrow looking differently at trees and its symbolism. I know I am.

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