Choosing School Literature – Workshop by Eric Jacobson

Report by Ada Merz

To choose appropriate literature, the teacher needs to filter the books and that filter is neohumanism.

The following 10 moral guidelines are recommended for picking good stories.

  • Treating all beings with compassion, love and respect
  • Being truthful and using your words to benefit all
  • Not taking things that don’t belong to you even in your thoughts
  • Seeing that Love is everywhere
  • Taking no more than you need so there is enough to share with all
  • Keeping our world, ourselves and our hearts clean
  • Serving others even if it is not convenient
  • Acting with patience and an even temper
  • Studying to acquire wisdom
  • Meditating to realize that we are all connected

In selecting books for your children, as a teacher you will have to read the children’s books yourself. You won’t be able to understand them only by the looking at the cover.

The 5 filters
  • Moral content based on yama/niyama
  • Expansion of mental horizon, e.g. learning indigenous culture and of those of distant lands
  • Re-evaluate your beliefs
  • Showing reader, a new perspective
  • Inspiration to dream big

It is good to provide a mix of the classics, past, and latest Newberry winners. If you exclude the past – it will be ungrounded and there won’t be any perspective about modern culture. Shakespeare provides excellent reading for older students and is a favorite at the Progressive School of Long island

The 3 three types of questions to ask after the reading
  • Questions of evaluation
  • Questions about facts
  • Questions of interpretation
Examples of questions of evaluation

Do you believe in good luck? Do you have something that you think will bring you good luck? Do you think that things happen by accident\? When did something happen that was too big to be an accident or coincidence?
Have you ever made a sacrifice? How did it feel at the beginning, how did it feel at the end? Would you like to try it?

If you don’t do the questions of evaluation (there is no wrong answer) the students won’t know how to apply them to their lives.

For Eric’s list of grade-wise books used at Progressive School in the USA, write to: