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An Experimental Section of The School Curriculum:
Great Books From �Songs Inspired By Literature�

Presented by
Dr. Steven Selden
Education Policy and Leadership
College of Education
University of Maryland

No matter what level you teach, there is plenty to think about in this specialist, university-level class. Read more about the department and its courses at www.education.umd.edu. The SIBL team summarized Dr Selden's course in this way:

Course Description:

This summer's experimental session is usng the SIBL CD, its songs, and some of the books that inspired the songs to pose questions about curriculum, such as:

  • What kind of a curriculum is this?
  • Who does it serve?
  • What are its messages, its themes, and its cultural import?
  • Who is present in these readings and who is absent?
  • And does it represent a worthwhile instructional program?

Students are spending this summer seriously reading great books, broadening their perspectives on curriculum, and making rigorous connections to great literature.

The course participants come from many countries so they will judge the songs and books from different perspectives. Each participant will make class presentations and write examinations.


The class will read about and discuss why a curriculum is designed a certain way. They will compare dominant texts - stories that give the point of view and interests of the powerful in society - with transformative texts. All learning and teaching, all choices about what to read and pass on to others, reflect a conservative desire to keep things as they are, or the opposite, an interest in bringing about change, and in enabling voices that are not often heard.

These questions and discussions are certainly of great interest to the literacy movement!

After the first, theoretical sessions, each topic in Dr Selden's course focuses on one of the SIBLs on the CD and the work of literature that inspired it. Dr Selden's topic headings invite us to think about the songs and books in interesting ways:

Poetry in a Post-Cataclysmic, Pre-Apocalyptic World.
Mark Levine: "Enola Gay"

On the Road With a Great Mind - Or at Least a Great Brain - The Ultimate Tupperware Party.
Michael Paterniti: Driving Mr Albert: A Trip Across America with Einstein's Brain

The Search for Meaning: Vladimir and Estragon Wait for Godot � Is Godot a Person or a Thing?
Samuel Beckett: Waiting for Godot

Adults at the mercy of Life: Children at the Mercy of Adults.
Frank McCourt: Angela's Ashes

Starting at the Bottom and Staying There: Outlaw History of New York's Underbelly, 1840�1919.
Luc Sante: Low Life

Mysteries of Life Made Clear: Surviving the Theft of Your Knees and Avoiding the Quick-Digesting Gink.
Sheldon Silverstein: A Light in the Attic

Viewing the World Through an Orphan's "Tourettic Impulses": Deconstructing and Reconstructing the Crime.
Jonathon Lethem: Motherless Brooklyn

Viewing America's Structures of Inequality: California and the Myth of the Promised Land.
John Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath

Back to SIBLization Resource Guide