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Global Issues and Activism in English Language Teaching

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Wendell Berry / The US Government Shutdown

October 9th, 2013 by Dave · 1 Comment

On a recent episode of Moyers and Company, Bill Moyers sat down with Wendell Berry. Berry is a writer, farmer and environmental activist who has been active in the US for over 50 years. The interview is pretty long (~40 minutes) but sections of it would be great in a lesson on the environment, food, business, or politics. A transcript is available, so students could read along as they listen.

In addition to the interview, Berry reads several of his poems, including one of my favorites, The Peace of Wild Things:

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— Wendell Berry

A poem like this can be a great discussion or writing prompt. One way to use it would be to have students write a poem about something that causes them despair and something that brings them peace. Alternatively, students could write about how they feel in nature. I find that, with poetry activities, its useful to give students very clear models and guidelines, instead of simply saying write a poem about X.

Also, at the end of the show, Moyers gives a brief take of the US government shutdown. If students are curious about it, this video clip would be a good way to shed some light on it.

Tags: animal rights · art as activism · blog · food and hunger · global issues activities · listening · poetry · politics · poverty & wealth · reading · the environment · video · writing

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Carol Thomas // Oct 10, 2013 at 11:55 pm

    This is a very relevant post which will encourage my adult learners to give their opinions about the US government shutdown. This is appropriate for my business english students so they can learn advanced vocabulary. Personally, I’m really concerned about the impact of the shutdown. I do hope that the US resolves this immediately.

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