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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Teaching Tolkien in the Classroom

Reader and Educator Guide to Reader and Educator Guide to "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Considering that this came to me for free, who am I to complain. It helps if you have read the Tolkien books previously. This book was also put out by the company that is publishing the Tolkien books. That being said as a teacher I wonder if I will ever get the opportunity to teach Tolkien to Middle School Children. If it is not aligned to the standards the probably not.

For someone just delving into Tolkien and wants to go further this book is worth reading. It has nine chapters that conver different concepts that Tolkien wanted to elucidate in his writing. Each chapter comes complete with unit specific goals learning goals, comments or suggestions to teachers, preliminary quizzes, important vocabulary, required materials, topics for discussion, suggested activity and bibliography for future reading.

To elucidate Tolkien's philosophy and point of view, the company uses other sources such as Tolkien's "Simarrillion, Tolkien's letters and essays he has written to paper. The main focus of the book is the "Hobbit" and the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Character's actions are analyzed from different scenes, literary techniques are examined as well as Tolkien's themes.

As many Tolkien fans will know from other literary analysis and critiques Tolkien was very concerned about the environment as during his lifetime he saw the agricultural way of life obliterated and factories spring up all over the place. This was something he lamented. He also criticized the concept of chivalry during a time of war when the other side was trying to kill you. Tolkien was also against the concept of power hungry leaders who he felt were leading the world to the brink of despair. Tolkien also had a differing concept of evil. While most would divide the two sides of good and evil as opposing forces, Tolkien believed that evil was nothing but the absence of good.

Tolkien's writing was influenced strongly by his Catholic upbringing as shown by his one true God Eru Illuvatar who created the universe through song and then had his demigods or angels enhance his creation by adding their own melodies. His act of subcreation via speech and words was his way of acting in the image of his creator. The elves could make gems and jewels it seems. Tolkien was a pholologist and he studied the language and literature of the Norse and Old Anglo Saxon. That was another source of inspiration for his creation of the Middle World. One this book will do for you is open a few doors if they have not already been opened. There are passages from Norse mythology, Finnish mythology and mythology from further east so that one has a point of comparison and that one can see the source of his illustration.

Great book for teachers and those just getting into Tolkien.

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One blond hair blue eyed Calfornian who totally digs the Middle East.
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