Inclusive Community in the Saint Mary’s Curriculum
The academic curriculum at Saint Mary’s is designed to encompass Lasallian core values including the school’s emphasis on an Inclusive Community. Through the texts that students read and the discussions they have in the classroom, the idea of an Inclusive Community permeates the life of every Saint Mary’s student. In recent years, we have added new courses as well as a new academic department to better teach students the importance of an Inclusive Community. The Philosophy department was born not only of the desire to have students explore their own thinking but also out of the need for them to better understand their relationship with the community around them, and courses like Islamic History, Asian History, Latin American History, and African History allow students to expand their historical point of view and develop empathy for all communities.
From discussions around gendered language to lessons on Spanish imperialism, immigration, race versus ethnicity, and differing systems of political organization across the French and Spanish-speaking world, the topic of Inclusive Community is woven throughout the World Languages Department curriculum at Saint Mary’s.
The Religious Studies Department focuses extensively on the topic of Inclusive Community through its curricular focus on the themes of inverted power (the teachings of Jesus), colonialism, refugees, race, immigration, and gender. During this jubilee year of mercy, a core theme for the department is empathy for the “dehumanized” other, and how human-created systems form the conditions for injustice to exist. The Social Justice course, in particular, includes two texts, which directly address topics of Inclusive Community: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration and the War on Drugs and The Devil’s Highway: Immigration and Migration.
There are a number of themes in the Social Studies curriculum that connect directly to Inclusive Community including immigration, emigration, and migration; race and ethnicity; gender; state-building; civil rights; nationalism; class; democracy; religion; and sexual orientation. In the Government and Law course, students read Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, by Bryan Stevenson, which addresses unfairness in the justice system.
The Math Department employs an inclusive approach within the classroom, encouraging participation and frequent group work amongst students.
All of the texts in the English Department curriculum lend themselves to discussions around the topic of Inclusive Community. Included below are brief descriptions of some of these important connections.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
This novel addresses issues of identity, conformity, class and what defines a community.
Ender’s Game, by Orsen Scott Card
Addresses political freedom, understanding the “enemy” without being able to communicate, gender roles, and freedom of religion.
Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
Addresses prescribed gender roles and issues of privilege and class.
Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan
Addresses gender roles and interaction as influenced by geography; racial and ethnic stereotypes, cultural expectations and assimilation; and issues of class.
The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver
Addresses gender stereotypes, racial and ethnic marginalization, family dynamics and how members of a community can become like family.
Mexican WhiteBoy, by Matt de la Peña
Addresses issues of multiracial marginalization and the search for identity within a community as well as interacting with individuals from a different socioeconomic class.
Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, by Greg Boyle
Father Greg Boyle’s book highlights unconditional love and how the idea of an Inclusive Community does not have one single definition.
Excerpts from The Odyssey, Canterbury Tales, and other classics.
Address class structures and privilege.
Macbeth, by William Shakespeare
This classic play addresses how ambition can affect both the individual and the community.
All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque
Explores the violence of war and a soldier’s inability to identify with enemy until a profound realization.
Dawn, by Elie Wiesel
Analyzes violence caused by racial and ethnic divisions connected to the struggle facing immigrants and refugees as they try to find community.
Red Scarf Girl, by Ji-li Jiang
Explores gender roles and the consequences of an oppressive regime on a community.
Hairdresser of Harare, by Tendai Huchu
Examines gender stereotypes, violence against the homosexual community, and the effects of historical racial discrimination on current society.
Friday Night Lights: A Town, A Team, and A Dream, by H. G. Bissinger
This novel explores themes of racism, inequality, and exclusion through the lens of high school football in Texas.
Mother Night, by Kurt Vonnegut
Discusses gender stereotypes and communities during war.
The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
Analyzes cultural influences on identity and gender stereotypes. Specifically addresses how race, class, and wartime influence community.
The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
Discusses how communities form amongst soldiers during war as well as gender norms.
The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Addresses gender stereotypes and issues of class.
Into the Wild, by Jon Kraukauer
Addresses class and the search for self within a community.
The Color of Water, by James McBride
Addresses how racism and sexism can influence an individual and a community. Also discusses issues of class and gender norms.
Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
Addresses how an individual can resist norms of a community and gender stereotypes. Discusses what defines and inclusive community.
Zoot Suit, by Luis Valdez
Addresses racial tensions amongst communities, gender stereotypes, tensions between first and second generation immigrants, and police brutality.
“Yellow Wallpaper,” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
This story addresses the effects of gender norms, as it explores what happens to a woman’s sanity when her desires and independence are suppressed because of her gender.
1984, by George Orwell
The novel takes totalitarian to its extreme and provides opportunities for us to examine humanity, history, and sanity under such a regime as well as to make comparisons to communities under actual totalitarian governments, past and present.
The Stranger, by Albert Camus
This novel depicts a grossly unfair criminal justice system prejudiced with respect to religion, class, and race. It also provides opportunities to address colonialism and its resulting racism and economic exclusion amongst communities.
Classic Novel Course Reader
The novels in this course are supported by a reader of poetry and short fiction selected specifically to bring in the voices of groups frequently excluded from the literary cannon, as well as to explore issues germane to theme of Inclusive Community.
The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
Not only does Morrison display and discuss the effects of racism on the individual, but also on the family dynamic and community relations. The novel also discusses black-on-black racism and gender stereotypes.
The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
Addresses the effects of the loss of community and struggles to survive without it.
Passing, by Nella Larsen
This book explores gender norms and racial identity.
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
The novel addresses gender roles and class oppression.
A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams
This play addresses ideas of male chauvinism and class divisions within a community.
The Three Theban Plays, by Sophocles
Addresses issues of trust and honesty in a community.
Washington Square, by Henry James
This short novel addresses gender roles and boundaries and class divisions in a community.
Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
Addresses issues of genocide of ethnic groups, racial supremacy, and imperialism.
The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
Discusses gender roles and boundaries and class and racial divisions in communities.
Throughout the Philosophy courses, numerous issues related to Inclusive Community are addressed. At the freshman level, students explore how positionality biases and shapes our way of thinking. Excerpts from The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian are frequently used to analyze and apply concepts of both positionality and the Theory of Knowledge’s four ways of knowing. Sophomores explore heuristics that relate to implicit biases that can influence interactions within a community. Juniors explore classism and income inequality within education, and seniors read Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me to explore gender and racial identities as they relate to both the individual and the community.
In Science classes, teachers facilitate discussion of issues relating to biological as contrasted with gender as a social role. In addition, the disparate impact of endocrine disruptors on minority populations/lower socio-economic class populations and their effect on gender characteristics and reproductive health are addressed. The department also focuses on equity in scientific research relating to gender or racially linked diseases and environment justice issues relating to development and implementation of energy technologies. Classes address the disparate impact of climate change on developing countries the poor and indigenous peoples, and the vulnerability of people in communities in the developing world to outbreaks of disease.
The Physical Education and Health Department addresses the media’s influence on racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, self-esteem, and other issues that affect an Inclusive Community. In addition, the relationship of poverty to race, access to health care, and education is examined. Health classes also look at the historical discrimination and violence against LGBTQ persons as well as social justice and health issues for farm workers. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian is also incorporated in discussed examining marginalization, stereotypes, microaggressions, and treatment of the disenfranchised and disabled in our society. Sports Medicine classes address gender inequality, while Physical Education courses are consistently sensitive to gender issues and shape assessments based on personal achievement and growth to support students within our Inclusive Community.
Visual and Performing Arts
The Visual and Performing Arts Department encompasses the theme of Inclusive Community in all that they do. In previous years, the Advanced Theatre classes developed scenes entitled “Reflections Of/On An Inclusive Community” to make personal statements about perceptions of the school’s Inclusive Community by its students. In Intermediate Theatre, students develop and present curriculum for grade school students through a service learning project focused upon the elements necessary to build an Inclusive Community. Students enrolled in Introduction to Theater have prepared presentations showcasing originally scripted scenes based upon their own experiences of being excluded.
Dance concerts have incorporated themes and a variety of dance styles interpreting personal stories of emerging through crisis and discovering connection and support in an Inclusive Community. In addition, a productive connection with the dance program at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga was established and maintained, through which college students were brought into the classes to choreograph, mentor, and critique their high school counterparts. By incorporating the works by students at every level, (intro, intermediate, advanced and college mentors), an actual inclusive community for their concert was created.
In the visual arts classes, the Annual AP Art Exhibition and the combined art show for all levels features personal expressions and varied imagery reflecting our diversity and inclusivity. Teachers incorporate artistic and written assignments into the curriculum at each level to both challenge and illustrate the personal application of the “inclusive” theme in daily practice. The combined works of the Chorus, Symphonic Band, Orchestra, and Jazz Ensemble is a living representation of the “Inclusive Community” in artistic action. Not only does each performance group call upon the application of those skills but students also collectively work in collaboration with one another to present a combined work for Choir and Symphonic Orchestra.
The Saint Mary’s College High School Library’s first priority for materials selection is to hold a copy of each text book, work of literature, etc. that will be used in the classroom. Therefore the library’s collection reflects the diversity and inclusivity of the whole curriculum. Parallel in importance is the library’s Saint John Baptist De La Salle and the Lasallian Christian Brothers special collection.
Second priority is given to faculty and student requests. As the primary users of the library and the diverse and inclusive community of which the collection should reflect, their requests are given this priority.
Finally, librarian selection of materials is guided by our Lasallian Core Principles: concern for the poor and social justice, faith in the presence of god, respect for all persons, quality education, and inclusive community.
Libraries are by their nature inclusive institutions and our Saint Mary’s Library upholds the principles of inclusion articulated in the “Library Bill of Rights” adopted by the American Librarian Association on June 28th, 1967; and inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23rd, 1996.
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