Ashley Haywood, English Teacher, Intrinsic Schools
Brave New World is a classic science fiction novel written by Aldous Huxley and published in 1932. The seemingly utopian society that Huxley invents is one in which the population is kept stable and contented through scientific advancements. Babies are born in laboratories, and social order is maintained through a strict hierarchy of castes. Happiness is achieved through the mass consumption of “Soma” and “feelies.” Huxley’s novel is a warning about the dangers of a culture focused on instant gratification. Personal freedom, individuality, truth, and humanity are sacrificed under state control.
Students can more easily engage with these challenging themes by connecting the extreme world of the novel to our current society. I’ve used ThinkCERCA’s Technology and Impact differentiated lesson set to have students read an article at their independent level and then come together in heterogeneous groups to discuss the essential question. This allows students to be experts on a specific topic and bring a wide range of ideas and issues into a classroom debate.
The articles connected to the Government Role in Health differentiated lesson set help students grapple with issues of government involvement and oversight in our everyday lives.
In order to dig deeper into the themes of instant gratification and escapism, I have students use “Robots in Disguise” and “Your Brain on Movies.” Students analyze close readings of passages from the novel dealing with “Soma” and “feelies” using the scientific lens of the articles.