MIDDLE SCHOOL LITERATURE AT DESERT TORAH ACADEMY

The students at DTA spend time reading the Torah and Talmud…but that’s not all they are reading!  This year, thanks to middle school English teacher Frank Browne, they are reading many great works of English literature.  Novels that they have read include Fahrenheit 451, A Wrinkle in Time, Lord of the Flies, The Road, The Pearl, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, The Red Pony, Animal Farm and Watership Down.

Rabbi Rodman, School principal, commented, “I am so happy that Mr. Browne is introducing our students to these literary classics.  One of the challenges that we face, of course, is when the ideas expressed in these books seem to conflict with Torah values.  When the students have real questions, Mr. Browne invites me into his class to answer these questions.  Some real lively discussions have come out of these meetings.”

Another wonderful thing Mr. Browne is doing is called paideia.  Students read news articles that are designed to promote deep discussion and debate.  Examples of recent articles are Maya McGuinea’s “Radical Tax Reform” and “What’s All the Fuss about Metacognition?”  Students make their own notes and comments on these articles and then discuss their comments in class.  The discussions follow a specific format that is similar to a parliamentary debate.  Of course, the purpose of the whole assignment is to get students to think deeply and then articulate their thoughts.

The middle school students really like how Mr. Browne has upgraded their English Language Arts curriculum.  He is a tough teacher, but students appreciate those teachers who get them to work at their highest level.  Of course, DTA’s administration appreciates how hard both Mr. Brown and his students are working.

The mission of Desert Torah Academy is to provide the Jewish children of Southern Nevada with an outstanding Judaic/Hebrew and Secular education.  DTA staff will promote students’ growth as active learners; respectful, responsible citizens; and independent thinkers.  Through a stimulating and safe learning environment, our students will grow in appreciation of Jewish tradition and culture while being prepared for success in high school and life in the world community.