Teaching new tales

English teacher Tara Stuart is not new to teaching relevant and engaging courses at Cedar Shoals High School. However, upon a recent request from administration for new electives, world mythology came up, and Stuart decided to revisit some of her roots. 

“I’ve always thought it was beautiful, like storytelling in general. It’s just something that I’ve always been really interested in. I can remember learning about myths when I was young. One of my favorite myths was the Greek myth of Persephone and Demeter. I think it’s interesting to look at how as humans, we try to make meaning of the world,” Stuart said.

Stuart previously taught world mythology at Winder-Barrow High School. She says that her course will contain the traditional topics of myths, fables, urban legends, folktales and ghost stories. Though the class will explore folklore from various religions and cultures, they will also touch on ancient local myths surrounding Athens, Georgia. To get students active Stuart will focus on project based activities to get students active.

“I was open to them doing just about anything,” Stuart said. “I would rather it be more student led than me getting up and lecturing about different mythologies. I would rather them do their own research and then I can add to it.” 

Stuart plans to include group projects, student research and film viewing instead of just writing essays or listening to lectures. Some of these ideas are drawn from how she taught the class previously.

“I remember we watched things like ‘Spirited Away.’ We watched ‘Moana’ one year because my students got into Hawaiian and Polynesian mythology, and we tied it to Maui and all of that stuff. One of the things that my students loved was when we got into some of the world religions, like Buddhism and Hinduism, and we would take a field trip to this Hindu temple,” Stuart said.

MIXING IT UP: Previous works from Stuart’s mythology class at Winder-Barrow High School are laid out on a table in Stuart’s classroom. Remaining as examples for her new class, students thought of creative ways to show what they learned through trading cards, a mythology calendar and an alphabet book. “A kid’s version of an ABC book, but you use the things that we studied. A for Anasi, an African folk character, then B for Bigfoot. C for Cicada,” Stuart said. Photo by Ericka Wilson.

Stuart is recruiting new students to join the class, so there are many familiar faces in next term’s class. She says there is a mix of ages, from freshmen up to seniors. Students who are not a part of next semester’s class can still sign up to join. 

“I would like to see what the students are interested in, let them at least a little bit guide what the curriculum is for the class,” Stuart said. 

So far, 29 students have signed up. The course will be taught during fourth period this spring. 

Senior Ben Montgomery is participating in the course. Montgomery looks forward to learning new and interesting myths beyond just the surface level Hercules and Zeus and exploring deeper cultures and traditions within mythology. Having Stuart’s class previously as a sophomore makes him hopeful for what her new class has to offer. 

“She’s a very friendly teacher. Definitely interactive, kind of talkative, listening and discussion based classes. There’s some periods of time where you just read, but overall I think it’s definitely more of an interactive class,” Montgomery said.

Although Montgomery has interest in mythology, his most prominent motivation for taking the class comes from Stuart´s personality. Students can always look forward to a warm greeting from Stuart. That attitude will combine with her excitement for exploring where the class could go. 

“I’m still building the curriculum and deciding how the course is going to look because I think it’ll have to be different from what I’ve taught so far, and then let it branch off,” Stuart said. 

Ericka Wilson

Junior Ericka Wilson is a new staff writer for Cedar BluePrints. After high school she would like to study speech pathology. For now, she is involved in the Cedar book club, BEE club, DECA and enjoys writing, hanging out with friends, and trying new things. Wilson’s favorite thing about journalism is the ability to report on topics that interest her.

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