This educational guidebook for teachers offers an unusual set of thought-provoking essay topics.
Mkrtchyan, a doctoral student in marriage and family therapy, has assembled a loosely organized collection of ideas that she believes are associated with “Raising Good Citizens.” The topics are divided by grade levels, from first through 12th grade, and are, for the most part, age-appropriate. Throughout the book, headlines are written in the student’s voice and the text as if a teacher is speaking; for example, in the first-grade section, the phrase “I Am Grateful for…” headlines a section that reads “Think about three things you are grateful for, and talk about them”; this is followed by a list of potential items, such as “your family,” “your country,” and “your friends.” In the section for ninth graders, the topic of “Work” is addressed: “Think of three values that come in handy in a work environment, and write about them.” Several topics are repeated from one grade to the next, but they’re slightly altered, based on the age group; for instance, “I Feel Smart and/or Strong When…” is repeated for all grade levels, but the list of items gets more sophisticated as grade levels progress. Topics that apply to all grades include personal, familial, and social responsibilities; gratitude; culture; what it means to be an honorable person; developing relationships; and love of country. Overall, the author’s approach is intriguing, as multiple teachers could choose to address the same topics across grade levels, suggesting the possibility of a broad-based, multidisciplinary curriculum. On the other hand, specific guidance for educators, such as lesson plans or instructions for incorporating essays into class work, is notably absent, and the topics seem randomly organized. As a result, interested teachers may find it challenging to apply this material to an existing framework. Still, the topics and lists are legitimate conversation starters and certainly worthy of consideration.
A constructive idea that falls short in its execution.