Conflict: Needed by Humanity or Just a creation?

December 5, 2016

In a sudden, bold move, similar to the implementation of reading into the English classrooms, teacher Jess McHargue has been forcing students in his classroom to discuss conflict as a powerful theme in literature and in turn applying such concepts and questions to their lives. 

“Literature is real,” McHargue declared to a room full of bored juniors as they continued to browse Facebook, listened to YouTube videos, and sent random Snapchats to peers. 

The statement echoed similar comments McHargue had made to a classroom full of freshman during a lecture on “The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst. While many of the students thought the story was too long and had no sustenance, others began to realize that the “ageless classic” was indeed a closely related narrative to their own lives in regards to the continual influx of conflict and conformity they face each day. 

“Authors seek to challenge us, the readers, by creating a safe place for life to happen since we all know real life is near impossible to navigate," McHargue continued, “but when the deeper meaning is understood and applicable to our own lives learning can actually occur.” 

Students were flabbergasted by the idea that stories from another century, other than the one tainted by social media and pop culture, could impact their lives. 

“History is our greatest teacher, and authors implement the lessons learned into fiction in order for these concepts to remain timeless in an effort for the next generation to make the same mistakes, so that more stories can be written and the vicious cycle of capitalism and reading in an English classroom can continue.” 

Students seemed open to the idea that mistakes happen and it is important to continue to make the same ones over and over again. Recalling a passage from “The Scarlet Ibis,” McHargue noted the need for cruelty and pride in everyone’s life. “Without these things, humanity would grow soft.” 

When challenged by an honor’s class discussion on the same topic, McHargue again cited literature to prove the validity of conflict.

“The Declaration of Independence was a cry for conflict thus proving that violence is the answer to all things. We cannot go through life without sticking it to the man at least once.” 

Overall, the unit on conflict has been very important to all students because they have learned strategies to create strife; seen how conflicts are positive, and are in agreement that conflict is necessary.* 

*Disclaimer: this is a satiric rendition of what is actually happening in Mr. McHargue’s English classrooms.

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