Archive for the ‘Book Club’ Category

NightJohn Questions

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008


ß So many of own students feel that school is the slave master and they are the slave. How do we get them to “free their bonds”?
ß Do you feel the slavery system still has an affect on the African American people today?
ß Is education worth risking your life?
ß Should the graphic descriptions be modified or eliminated?
ß What is the difference between being a “slave” and being “enslaved”.
ß Can we equate education w/enlightenment?
ß In what ways does Waller lack freedom?
ß What collective mindset could sanction such brutality?
ß Can we say slavery is morally wrong or right? Why or why not?
ß How does Nightjohn / Mammy show his/her freedom?
ß Were Nightjohn’s intentions genuinely aimed to benefit the slave children?
ß What is freedom?
ß How is the “abolition” of slavery like the dismantling of the Berlin Wall/Communism?
ß How is the secrecy of Mammy similar to the secrecy of Sarny?
ß How is the abolition of slavery like the fall of the Roman Empire?

Jeff Arnold’s NightJohn Questions

Did Waller effectively manage his salves? What techniques did he use? What was Waller management philosophy?
What lessons can we learn from slavery to help us become better managers, facilitators, and/or coaches?
Was Waller richer or poorer after punishing those who he felt helped Sarny to read?
When others are diminished –am I stronger?

What did the system (Waller) do to maintain the institution of slavery?
How did NighJohn feel about the slaves who whipped him / held his foot when being punished?
What would be Nighohn’s vision for a new social order? Have we made any headway towards that vision?

How were the seeds of change for the institution of slavery planted? Have the seeds taken root?
What role did NightJohn play in changing the intuition of slavery? How does change occur?

Is NightJohn a teacher? Does NighJohn teach by word or by deed? Can he be considered a spiritual teacher?

Is struggle required for enlightenment? Can enlightenment cause struggle?
Is religious practice the same as spiritual practice?

Can / should we equate enlightenment with education?

Slavery as practiced by Weller, is today considered an extremely hash management technique. What is the extreme opposite of slavery – is that always better than Weller’s slavery?

Did NightJohn give Sarney what he promised when she traded him tobacco?
How are slaves, money, tobacco and oil similar / different?

Do we value people by;
What they do?
What they think/feel?
Who they are – as a spiritual being.

If we view this story as a teaching experience in Earth School- How did the people involved help each other grow?

In the story – who has power and who has a higher level of conscientiousness?

Did the brutality of slavery reflected in the book, foretell the brutality of the civil war?

NightJohn left a footprint – what will my footprint look like?

How can my ego enslave me? Is it possible for my ego to die? Is it possible for ego to survive in slavery? Is there strength in surrender? Is liberty the same as freedom?

Can we forgive Waller –should we forgive him? Is it worth trying to understand Waller?

Do my experiences define me?
Do my emotions/feelings define me?

Is sanity better than insanity in a crazy world where slavery is the norm?

Was NightJohn a hero? Was he courageous?

Is there a seductive appeal to power? Is having absolute power over some one really possible? Can one person own someone else?

When did this story take place?

What does the Bible say about slavery?

How do we know what is right or wrong?

What were some of the key differences between the book and the movie?

What is the difference between truth and absolute truth?
How does the Universe work?

Posted in Book Club | No Comments »

Nightjohn reflection

Monday, July 28th, 2008

I wanted to memorialize my “aha” moment when reading Nightjohn through the lens of a teacher.

There are so many themes that run through this very brief story. I was searching for the connection to education. I believe I found it when reading the except from Sarny by Gary Paulsen. The risks that Sarny took to learn to read did not seem to have any immediate benefits. At the secret school in the woods, students gave up rest and risked physical abuse for the chance to read the label off a bag of goods, something inconsequential at the time. Years later, however, during the chaos of the Civil War, Sarny used the skill she had acquired to read the ledger detailing the sale and transport of her children to another plantation. Having this knowledge gave Sarny hope and the impetus to act in a positive way to improve her situation.

The lesson learned from Sarny is that there is a point to education. Even though students may not see the need to learn particular skills or facts as they are presented in the classroom setting, that knowledge is transferable to the real world in some form. Sarny had a natural desire to learn; she knew instinctively that having that experience was important, even if the resources were inadequate or the topics irrelevant.

Does this relate to the idea of process vs. product?

Heather H.

Posted in Book Club | 2 Comments »