We read Ishmael at the start of the course, over a period of about five weeks, using a combination of methods. Sometimes I have them read aloud in class and sometimes on their own or in reading groups. I also have parents get together with a group and read with them. (Parents come in several times a week and work with the students. It works well, and they all like doing it.) I’ve also used the audio tape of Ishmael. Although it’s condensed (cut nearly in half to fit 180-minute format, ED.), it gives a good overview. Whether or not I use the tape depends on the class. If they find the text too daunting, listening to the tape helps them get started. Or I might use at it the end as a summary.
I have a group of students take a civilization and analyze it in terms of both the contemporary, common point of view and then from Ishmael‘s point of view. Once they’ve read Ishmael, they reconsider what is the criterion of a civilized society. They discuss this in groups and then make a presentation to the class. (A lot of what comes out is new ways to design laws to protect the environment and prevent growth.)
Many of the things we do are related to what comes up in class, what their questions are, what they’re ready for. I structure the class to allow this and stay alert to their interest and readiness. Each class is different.