American Rage: A Course in Political Discourse

American Rage: A Course in Political Discourse
School Events

Bay’s educational philosophy for the humanities centers on understanding the foundations and forces of the world around us. What are the societal building blocks that shape how we interact with each other, and how do events and figures of the past influence life today? While these questions are explored throughout our academic program, this year humanities teacher Scott Mackey designed a new elective for 11th and 12th grades, American Rage: A Course in Political Discourse, that examines this strong current in our culture through the lenses of literature, theater, film, and historical documents, including the Federalist Papers. Students delve into the concept of rage by analyzing its different manifestations, and examine the role, both helpful and harmful, it has played in shaping American society.

A few weeks of the term were devoted to examining David Mamet’s 1992 play Oleanna. After reading the text, students participated in a mock trial, playing roles that included plaintiff, defendant, witnesses, and jury members. Having to make their arguments with direct citations from the source text, the class pondered whether rage was a defense for criminal behavior, investigated examples of how rage manifests in literature, and considered how authors use it to advance a plot and prove a point. The class provides an environment in which students discover new layers in history and culture, while learning and applying the skills that allow for thoughtful debate.

Senior Téa Rodriguez told us, “American Rage is one of my favorite classes. Scott Mackey has created an environment in which there is always room to dig deeper and ask more questions. Students are not looked down upon for not knowing an issue or having an opposing viewpoint. I enjoy our open discussions because there is no winning or losing. It's students talking and listening to each other, and empathizing with one another. I believe that the material taught in this class is pertinent to navigating life in modern America.”

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American Rage: A Course in Political Discourse