I've been given a mythology class to teach, mostly to juniors and seniors (at a public high school in California). Yay! However, the previous teacher won't let me borrow her material, and my mythological education was taking one class in college and a lot self-teaching (thus, there are gaping holes in my knowledge). And so, mefites, hope me figure out the best way to teach this class!
Here are my questions/concerns:
1. I've settled on South African (Xhosa/Zulu/San) mythology first. The reason is that it was something on which I had quite a few resources (although I'm realising, not nearly enough!) and with which I had a bit of familiarity. I've done Nkulukulu's creation of man and How Death Came to the World (several different versions, which we compared and looked at similarities and differences in the telling). I've googled the subject to death and haven't found a lot of quality material out there.
2. The next thing I've got planned (we just started it on Friday) is to look at the way we (in the US/west) personify animals and the cultural characteristics we give to them. Then they'll write their own animal myth (using certain elements that they've drawn randomly). After that, we'll look at the African cultural characteristics of animals and then they'll re-write their myth to fit those personifications and analyse the differences. That might take a week or two.
3. I'd like to take the unit farther (maybe 2-3 more weeks), but I'm out of ideas. I'd like to do some background reading on myths in Africa in general, but also look at how stories have influenced art, and how they are woven into history. I don't really have resources (or even a clue/idea) for this part. I've also considered doing Things Fall Apart (instead or in addition to the history/art/whatever). Convince me whether or not it's a good idea. I'm also open to other African novels (Nervous Conditions? parts of Change of Tongue? something else?) or plays, but am a little stuck.
4. After that, I figured I could do a unit on hero's journey and watch some films that fit the genre. I'm thinking Star Wars (because I've done it before), but would like other suggestions and/or resources where someone has already built lesson plans on the film's connection to the HJ.
5. After that, I figured we'd read The Odyssey. Done it before and have lots of stuff to go with it.
6. That should put us through the end of the first semester. I know I want to do Greek/Roman/Norse mythology (for most of the remainder of the year) and I bought Edith Hamilton's Mythology
and we have a textbook as well. I know I need to get the D'Aulaires'
books on Greek/Roman and Norse mythology but I'm putting it off until I have a few paychecks. But other than those books, I'd love to see resources on lesson ideas, fun activities, or even just great books or movies that you would have wanted to do if you were taking my class.
7. I know LITERALLY nothing about the mythology of any other part of the world. What am I leaving out that I really shouldn't? I have some books on Native American mythology, but wouldn't even know where to start. I feel bad leaving out a massive portion of the world.
8. Finally, what are some organising ideas to use throughout the course? Right now, I feel like it's a lot of "Hey, look! Isn't that interesting!" but it doesn't feel like what we're doing fits into the larger schema of the course. Obviously there are references that you need to get in order to be an educated person, but beyond that, why study mythology? What do modern teenagers need to know about mythology? what might they find interesting? And how do I make this more than just another English class (which is what I teach)?
As I said above the fold, the previous teacher (who designed the course and was the only person who taught it at the school for 15 years) is not too forthcoming with her materials. She says I can "take stuff out of her filing cabinets," but none of it is organised and there are literally five filing cabinents. It's not gonna happen. For the purposes of this question, please assume that she is not a resource. Neither are the rest of the teachers in the English/History departments. No one has any background in mythology, and apart from a few books in the school library (but no librarian), I'm on my own. Also, the kids have all read Oedipus in 10th grade, but there's not really much background on mythology in that unit.
TL;DR: I am super excited about teaching mythology, but have no idea how to proceed. What resources would you recommend (assuming I have no money to buy lots of books) and what should I make sure to include? What will get teenagers excited about mythology? Halp!?!1!