4000 W Lake Ave
Glenview, IL US 60025
Webmaster's note: This course was added to the Companion on 21 December 1996, and will not be found in the downloadable version or the hardcopy of the Companion.
High school regular level students using the ACS published Chemcomm course. I used the book during unit 6 on air to tie together ideas that we had discussed throughout the year on resources and their use by people
Ishmael presents a rather unpopular view among suburban teenagers in a way which makes them start to think about how they use and use up different resources.
We kept a journal throughout the time we were reading,
and at the end, we combined our journal entries to make a letter
to a fictitious company president who had just finished Ishmael
and was hoping to change some of the company policies to be more
in line with Ishmael's teachings. Then, the students had to
answer their own letter as the company president.
These were the questions they could write about:
Ishmael Journal Questions
- How are people like severed fingers from a hand?
- How are people not like severed fingers from
- What does it mean for a teacher to fail?
- How is being a captive similar to being lied
- Why is it important that Ishmael¹s student
have no one he considers a friend?
- How are you held captive?
- What vocabulary, maps, and definitions would
you pack in a bag to tell your story?
- In your own words, tell the story (or myth) that
our culture believes which integrates man, the world, and the
- If the earth is made for humans, what does that
mean about how or how much of the earth¹s resources humans
are free to use?
- How and why does the creation myth change by
assuming there is a divine agency?
- Why is the student frozen up inside? What does
that mean? Why is Ishmael sorry for him? Is there evidence to
suggest that he is or is not actually "frozen up inside"?
- In what ways do people act like enemies of the
world? In what ways do people NOT act as enemies of the world?
- What do you think makes people mess up the planet
on which they live? Is there a fundamental human flaw? If so,
what is it?
- What does Ishmael mean on page 91, when he says,
"the world of thought is coterminous with your culture"?
- The student says nothing when Ishmael asserts
that there is a knowledge to be gained about how we ought to live.
What would you say?
- Ishmael and the student talk about organizing
things on a macroscopic level and on a biological level. What
do they mean, and how are the two ways of organizing things related?
- If you were a survivor of the crash at the end
of the "Taker Thunderbolt's" free fall flight, what
aspects of this civilization would you keep?
- How is the society of A¹s, B¹s, and
C¹s like our own? How is it like a Leaver society?
- What questions do you have for Ishmael?
- Is there reason to believe that we are causing
our civilization to fail and our species to become extinct, but
that the Earth¹s other species will go on or not?
- How is the Taker story fundamentally "unhealthy
and unsatisfying" as Ishmael says? What does it promote among
- What is the relationship between the Takers being
rulers of the world, the knowledge of who shall live and who shall
die, the knowledge of good and evil, and the agricultural revolution?
- What benefits to us or to the world does the
agricultural lifestyle have over the hunter/gatherer lifestyle?
- What are the motivations for the student to find
Ishmael and not become failure #5? What are the motivations for
- Why does Ishmael not care to explore the field
of studies of gorillas?
- What evidence do you see in our culture that
we value knowledge about what works well for things rather than
knowledge about what works well for people? Which kind of knowledge
does Ishmael call wisdom? What do you think?
- What are some of the least detestable aspects
of Leaver society?
- How would you answer Ishmael when he asks on
p 228, "Well, are we making progress"?
- Describe the world if humans adopt a new story
as the student sees it starting where he left off on p 244.
- How does this book apply to us? our lives? our
class? your life in particular?
Ishmael Journal Assignment
When you hand in your Ishmael paper, hand in this
sheet with it. For the paper, you should have written 14 journals.
The first was on the sheet of paper you used in the Math Lab when
you did the world wide web activity on Ishmael. The other 13 you
wrote for each chapter. For this assignment, choose 10 of these
responses, and combine them in any order to write a letter to
a chemical company president about the company¹s environmental
practices. You may assume the company president has read the book,
and is trying to find ways to implement some of Ishmael¹s
ideas into the company policy. Some of your paragraphs will
have direct suggestions for the president, and some will have
reasoning for why the company should do what you say. You may
wish to combine some of your paragraphs to make the paper more
readable. You also may want to revise some of your original ideas
as you put them together. Make up a company name and a president¹s
name. Think carefully about what names you use, just as Daniel
Quinn thought carefully about the names he used in the book.
|Criterion|| Points |
|includes 10 journal questions||0
|includes suggestions for company||0
|writes grammatically/spells correctly||0
|references specific items in book||0
|logical order of information||0
|includes personal thoughts/opinions||0
Total Grade ___________/100
Students either liked the book or didn't like it. Very few thought that it was inappropriate for a chemistry class. All said that they learned something from it. Many were surprised at the large vocabulary of a gorilla.
Here is the www activity which I use to start the whole project.
World Wide Web Sites: Intro to Ishmael
In order to search very current information and opinions,
we will use the World Wide Web to gather news about the next book
we will read together, called Ishmael.
Please start where this worksheet directs you, but
feel free to move about to find new information. You will run
into places where you can post your opinion. Please do not do
so. You are not authorized to send anything across the internet
except search words.