One of the IB Learner Profiles is that of Thinkers. And IB defines this as saying, “They exercise initiative in applying thinking skills critically and creatively to recognize and approach complex problems, and make reasoned, ethical decisions. In grade 10 English we have spent the year looking at all the ways one can be manipulated, with the ultimate goal of making clear, ethical decisions in our daily lives.
We first looked at Truman Capote’s nonfiction novel, In Cold Blood, and how Capote masterfully manipulates the writing to suggest one murderer is less guilty than another. Then we looked at close relationships in Jane Eyre and “A Raisin in the Sun,” and how individuals try to manipulate others to gain power. WWI and WWII showed us manipulation in the form of propaganda, and we studied how large populations of people were manipulated through careful control of information by governments. We are just finishing up our unit on Othello, where we see a jealous Iago seek to destroy an entire cast of characters because he didn’t get the military promotion that he wanted.
The students have been involved in culminating discussions and have been writing over the last week about which manipulator was the most powerful, the most effective. How do you define words like effective and powerful when looking through the lens of manipulation? Throughout the discussions and the writing, an ultimate theme has developed, and that is that the worst manipulator is the one who damages the most people. These units, put together, have helped students not only learn techniques that people use to manipulate others, but they have helped students learn to act in a more ethical manner, in a way that benefits the largest group of people.