You Can Boast, But Then You’ll Roast

Target Audience: This is particularly an abstract lesson, as it covers a wide variety of historical periods. However, its versatility makes it a Swiss-army-knife for a majority of the social studies department. Because the readings of these passages can be complex, this lesson is best suited for a group of high schoolers. Although the readings all serve a common purpose, they are spread out through history, so assimilating this lesson into one specific high school social studies course may be difficult. Specific course: dealer’s choice.

Lesson Context: This lesson takes students through different historic depictions of how authors and societies viewed a person’s ego. All of these documents are used in order to showcase the inevitable consequences of pride. Obviously, different themes can be traces within the lines of these stories, but their respective authors successfully highlight the inevitable outcomes of pride, boasting, and excessive self-esteem.

Historical Readings:

Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley

  • What claims does the narrator make about Ozymandias?
  • How does the author want the reader to feel about Ozymandias’s claims of glory?
  • What is the lesson hidden within the poem, specifically to the audience of the 1970s?

Icarus and Daedalus

  • What is the hidden message within the story of Icarus?
  • Assuming this story is passed by word-of-mouth, what is the intent of its performance?
  • How do the lessons within this story compare to Shelley’s poem?

1 Samuel 17 note verse 1-11 & 40-54

  • What does the story of David teach young Israelites from its respective time period?
  • What does the story of David teach modern day Sunday school children?
  • What is the story’s lesson about boasting, and how does it historically compare to the Greek Myth, and the poem of the 70s?

Teacher’s Guide: Within the multi-layer themes of three of these documents, there is a secret thread to the lessons associated with pride. Obviously, all three of these authors note the negative consequences of inevitable downfall. Although they are spread far throughout the timelines of history, their common themes are perpetual. Students should pick up on the similarities between all three stories, and connect them to one another. Each respective story warns their audience of the dangerous of pride, using its own historical period to paint a ranging variety of accounts.

3 Replies to “You Can Boast, But Then You’ll Roast”

  1. Interesting selection of tales of hubris. I like that the sources are so distinct in culture and era (I’m not sure what you mean by audience of the 70s. Shelley was writing in early 19th c).

    I wonder if students will need some assistance contextualizing each to it’s time period. Or perhaps that’s less important that the through line theme. You could consider presenting them in chronological order. But I don’t think that does much for context. And I doubt there’s an argument the more recent were inspired by older.

    Nicely done nonetheless and should be an interesting lesson. BTW -love the title of post.

  2. Super interesting thinking with these three. And I love the through-line of ego and hubris, which is a bit more advanced than something less…philosophical. Like Peter mentioned, I also love how different each of these stories is.

    In my head I’m wondering how much contextualization is needed for each of these stories. Are you providing background for each before they’re being read? Or are you expecting students to do that? I’m not sure it’s even necessary, but I think taking a look at “why” something was written requires some understanding of the time period. So perhaps this is a lesson best taught toward the end of the year? Just a thought. Nice work!

  3. I really like these sources. I found it really interesting how each of your sources connect to each other to get the point across. I think this is a really interesting close reading activity to see how morality/philosophy are things that society has been dealing with for a long time and is still applicable to today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.