Thursday, June 02, 2011

The Lorax Message Still Familiar 40 Years Later

It is not uncommon to find Dr. Seuss books in a kindergarten and elementary classroom.  These books have been a staple of reading for more than fifty years.  Whether students learned colors and numbers from One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish or the alphabet with the Dr. Seuss Dictionary, Theodore Giesel has been a soldier for literacy in education world wide.  How often though do we revisit this master of education throughout the years.  Do we explore the possibilities of following our dreams in Oh, The Places You Will Go?   Do we use The Sneetches, to discuss social justice issues?  I have used The Lorax in my environmental science courses for more than a half dozen years.  It is amazing how many ideas and discussion points on the environment are encapsulated in this story. And, high school students truly enjoy using this piece of their childhood to begin the exploration of this course.

In 1971 Dr. Seuss (Theodore Giesel) published "The Lorax" one year after the first Earth Day.
The Lorax speaks out for the Truffula Trees that are being exploited by The Onceler in the production of Thneeds.  Thneeds of course become the latest greatest of the can do everything product that of course everyone needs.   The Onceler's overproduction of Thneeds, leads to overpopulation, urbanization, urban blight, water and air pollution, endangering species and many of the same environmental issues we are still dealing with today.

I utilize the  Google Video of the Lorax as an introduction to the frustration we still deal with in trying to overcome environmental issues.  I ask students to identify the environmental issues presented in the Lorax story and compare them to how those issues are still manifested today.  A major discussion point centers around why these problems never seem to gt solved.  What are the roadblocks that we face in reversing the problems of the environment.  After viewing the video students are asked to write an essay responding to the prompt, "Why we have not learned in forty years."

In summation the basic idea is to get students to answer the following throughout the semester and the remainder of their lives. How are they going to respond to the UNLESS!!!

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