Teaching Vonnegut in High School

Last week the Library hosted Teaching Teachers to Teach Vonnegut, a program to teach high school teachers to incorporate Vonnegut’s works into their curriculum. Here are some follow-up thoughts from participant Max Goller:

“Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice,” Robert Frost once penned.  In order to console those readers with nervous dispositions, let me offer assurance that the likelihood of either of these cataclysmic events happening anytime soon is quite remote.  Unfortunately, proceedings which transpired over the course of July 18-22 at the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library portend very bad fortune, indeed.

Please allow me to explain.  During this week, a karass formed.  The kan-kan for the development of the specific karass was the teachings of the eminent Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. scholar, Dr. Rodney Allen.  Rachel Antler of Paramus, NJ and Max Goller of Fishers, IN joined this karass with a deep-seated desire to learn methods of sharing the writings of Kurt Vonnegut with their students.  Over the course of the week others, including Renee Vanlandingham, Phil Watts, Jada Nobis, Bill Briscoe and Nancy O’Conner floated in and out of the karass.  This karass explored the books and film adaptations Slaughterhouse Five and Mother Night, and detailed several non-fiction and short story pieces from Mr. Vonnegut.  The group delved deeply into topics such as the relationship of Kurt Vonnegut and his war buddy, Bernard O’Hare, and the argument presented by Susan Farrell that Joseph W. Campbell’s confessions of being an American double-agent in Mother Night were a lie he created to placate his conscience.  The week culminated with visits to Crown Hill Cemetery, the Vonnegut family home, and the Athenaeum.

The educated reader will certainly understand the dire implications of these events.  Mr. Vonnegut spoke of his desire to poison the minds of the young with humanity to encourage them to make a better world.  Does anyone doubt that this karass shares this lamentable vision?

Although the members of the karass are certainly grateful to Julia Whitehead, Rodney Allen, and the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library for bringing them the inaugural Teaching Teachers to Teach Vonnegut event, the remainder of us must wait in fear and loathing as we anticipate the calamitous implications.

Special thanks to this program’s many Kickstarter funders and the matching grant from Indiana Humanities in cooperation with the National Endowment for the Humanities.

 

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