A Hero's Journey Through Middle School

The study of the classic heroic journey has much to offer young adolescents who are beginning to prepare for their adult lives while still living much of their lives in the world of childhood. This study will be conducted in advising, language arts, and social studies classes. Students will study stories, including fiction, historical fact, and historical fiction. They will analyze these roles of heroes in the stories by studying the story lines and using character analysis. By examining the trials and tribulations and ultimate triumphs of the heroic characters, students will learn that these stories, from Ulysses to Star Wars, and ultimately on to Roots, follow classic lines that can be explained and explored. Advisors will guide students in learning that we can discern much about ourselves when we study heroic characters of the past and in fiction.

Can you remember the first time you saw Star Wars? The sixth graders will see part of this film on Thursday, September 17th as a kickoff for this unit. We'll ask questions such as What makes someone a hero? What is the difference between a celebrity and a hero?

The movie Star Wars provides rich material for an introduction to the study of heroes.

Ask your sixth grader about heroes and share your thoughts about some of your heroes with your child! We welcome your thoughts and feedback on this topic.

Characteristics of a hero as identified by students during advising discussions:

Brave
Courageous
Humble
Tries to do the right thing
Willing to risk their life for others
Thoughtful
Can be ordinary
Rescuer
Learner
Fair
Role model
Caring
Achieving
Confident
Dependable
Discover
Decisive
Quick Thinker in crisis
Leader
Keep their cool
Lucky
Wants to make the world a better place
Fights for common good
Helper





People around heroes:
Helpers
Sidekicks
Followers
Villains

On Monday, September 21, Dr. King discussed the traits of the heroic journey with student in their Social Studies classes. For more about his thoughts, you can read his letter on the GDS website. Below are his key points for students:

  1. Challenges and difficult times can lead to personal growth and learning.
  2. Older and more experienced individuals can serve as guides who mentor.
  3. Collaboration is usually called for and is better than trying to egotistically "go it alone."
  4. A person who has traversed the hero's journey is not defined as one who simply does one heroic act. The hero's journey is a process of development that unfolds over time.
  5. Heroes are not folks who simply act out of self-interest.
  6. Rites of passage are guided by mentors who are assigned to help the younger person realize their potential as they go through training and are required to face challenges. The "toughness" of the initiation process is intentional, and it serves to help the younger person learn how to handle the tough times and challenges that life inevitably brings.