Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ishmael Will Change the Way Your Students Think

I adopted this text for my Environmental Science course four years ago.  Although I use it in a science course, the topics covered include: human culture, anthropology, religion, politics, ecology, biology and history, just to name a few.  The text creates just enough discomfort in the students to force them to take a look at their place in the world and how the choices they make have an impact on everything and everybody.

·        Ishmael by Daniel Quinn provides students the opportunity to question where mankind has come from and what the future holds if we continue upon our current path.
·        The novel questions our societal values from many points of view including anthropology, culture, ecology, economics, environment, ethics, industry, politics, prejudice, science and sociology. 
·        Ishmael’s teaching centers primarily upon the Taker versus the Leaver in society. Students evaluate the choices made by individuals, communities and countries and their ultimate effect on our own survival as a human race.   
·        More than 250 colleges and universities have courses based upon Ishmael or use Ishmael as a significant reading within the curriculum. 
·        Educators who use Ishmael report significant improvement in students approach to problem solving and critical thinking.  
·        The Ishmael Companion workbook is available for teachers for sample discussion points, activities and assignments.
·        The Ishmael community is an online resource for supplemental materials for both teachers and students. 

Ishmael is a half ton silverback gorilla. He is a student of ecology, life, freedom, and the human condition. He is also a teacher. He teaches that which all humans need to learn -- must learn -- if our species, and the rest of life on Earth as we know it, is to survive.

The book opens with a deceptively ordinary personals ad: "Teacher seeks pupil. Must have an earnest desire to save the world." Seeking a direction for his life, a young man answers the ad and is startled to find that the teacher is a lowland gorilla named Ishmael, a creature uniquely placed to vision anew the human story.
Quinn says Ishmael is a story about hope. "I think we have a much finer and more exciting destiny than conquering and ruling the world," he says. "This book shows that we can learn about what that destiny is from the life around us -- and in Ishmael it just happens that life speaks with the voice of a lowland gorilla."

For more on Daniel Quinn and Ishmael visit: http://www.ishmael.com/welcome.cfm

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