Unit Title: Patriarchy and Persuasion (or Medea, by Euripides

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The Medea unit is some of the most fun you can have at Fukiai; it is also incredibly good for the students. It’s eyeopening; it proves to kids that a really old play can be directly relevant – and even important – to contemporary life. It
gets them to think critically about literature and society, and to express their opinions with force and passion. Medea is
about a dysfunctional marriage; it’s about lying, cheating, maternal/paternal rights, and infanticide. It’s also about
sexism and immigration. More fundamentally, it’s about splitting human nature along gender lines that affect the order
of the cosmos. It’s an incredibly rich play that’s also easy to read in English, and it makes a good beginning to the second
term.

The Persuasive Essay
Due to the richness of the play, it is easy to differentiate tasks in the Medea unit. The main assignment, the persuasive
essay, is introduced at three separate levels:
1. Who is worse, Jason or Medea?
2. Who does the author think is worse?
3. Does the way gender is portrayed in Medea support or undermine patriarchy?
All students begin at level one, writing an answer to the first question at several different times throughout the term
and reflecting on how their opinions change throughout the play. Once the class finishes reading through the entire play,
they are invited to write a rough draft of an essay addressing the second level. Most of them choose to do so, but a few
will remain at level one and use that prompt for their essay instead. The third level comes at the very end of the term,
after the class stages a debate between the two main characters. When the debaters discover the temptation to defend
Medea by claiming she was not responsible for her actions, they start to wonder what Euripides is really saying about
who should and who should not bear responsibility in society at large. The last prompt is complicated, and only a few
higher level students will attempt it; those who try, however, will seriously sharpen their English expression and critical
thinking skills.

Be Prepared
Please note: This unit takes a little more preparation on the part of the instructor than the last one did. For Day Two, you
will likely need to visit the Daiso to buy masks, paper cups, and cheap snacks or candies (OK in SHS). None of this should
be very expensive – in total about 1/10th the tax credit American teachers can claim for classroom costs, for comparison
– but it will have to be out of pocket. The students will continue to use the masks for the entire first half of the unit
though; they are a good investment.
In addition to buying props, you will also want to brush up your knowledge of Euripides, Medea, and Greek theater. If
you’re unfamiliar with all these, don’t worry. The basics are clearly laid out on the Wikipedia pages for all three of them.
Nevertheless, it’s probably a good idea to read those pages and the play Medea itself before beginning this unit.
Unit Objectives. Students will:



Analyze a classical literary text for authorial bias
Debate a critical interpretation of a text
Write several drafts of a persuasive essay of at least 800 words
Assess each other’s writing for persuasiveness, organization, and effective use of evidence

Additionally, students will continue to practice timed writing (“speedwriting”) and complete free writing essays at home.

you will teach the first day of the second term as a combined class. Simply put.Daily Lesson Plans Day One: Activating stereotypes Materials needed: Blank Lined Paper (included in Day One and Day Four of Narrative Unit).” though it has nothing to do with American politics. This particular lesson uses a tea party to introduce characters from the play Medea. and give them as much time to write as the OTE can afford. Students receive character descriptions and masks. The name of the key activity is the “literary tea party. copies of Medea tea party roles (divide evenly among students in groups of five (or four excluding Aegeus). Additional Materials needed: Four or five different types of masks from the Daiso (one each per student in your larger class). Accept everything they say and write it on the board. nod and acknowledge. at least one exam. snacks. gently push back against their stereotypes. tell them that the next class will be meeting in a different place. After they are finished writing.” and call on students to help you fill in differences. so that students can have another chance to decide whether they want to study with the OTE or with you. quizzes. label it “Men” and “Women. Along the way. Have they never met an emotional man? Do they know any women who make good leaders? &c. but question their assumptions. Review your syllabus – which should include a persuasive essay in at least two drafts. a literary tea party is a reading strategy that invites students to pretend to be characters from their book. Syllabus (not included. They are told that they can eat the food. they are shown food at the opposite end of the room. Once they are finished reading them. and class participation – and pass out the paper for speedwriting. a revision letter. but that as soon as they stand up. You will let the home room teacher know what the classroom will be. Before class ends. cups. make a T-chart (two columns) on the board. . (NOTE: High school kids can have candy!) Procedures: This is a really big day – perhaps the biggest one in EE. napkins &c. copies of the Medea Timeline. have them read their answers aloud to a partner. why not? Why do other people believe in them?”). copies of the Notes on Medea and Greek Theater worksheet (copy to back of timeline). you’ll need to make your own) Speedwriting Prompt: What differences are there between male and female personalities? Procedures: Most likely. Add additional questions as needed (“Why do these differences exist? Or if you don’t believe real differences exist between male and female personalities. where you can wear masks and eat food. Write the speedwriting prompt on the board. they have to wear the mask and become the character. ***Day Two: Medea Tea Party*** Materials needed: Copies of the abridged Medea script (four B4 pages each).

call their attention together and ask what they know about the three main characters – Medea. part 2 . but the masks that go with Medea and Creon should be worn by whoever is reading those two. &c. you can choose one and interact with the students as that character. to have students begin the play at the top of page one. and break them into small groups (ideally of four or five) to read it aloud. food. distribute the script for Medea. don’t let them have any food! Distribute the tea party role sheets. anyone can read any character. when they can’t tell you. On the day of the lesson. When the students first come in.” Medea. make sure to ask Chamoto-sensei or someone equally responsible to help you reserve a room where you can have food. Explain that they have five minutes to learn their characters. Let them read Key Section One. circulating to help them get into character. Oh – and be sure not to tell them the end of the play! When you finish lecturing. one kind per character. Then tell the story. they should not sit down with anyone who has the same character as them. and that most of it is actually the story of Jason. Ask what Creon’s daughter’s name is. You will also need to buy the masks. but they should talk to their group about the character. Your choice might depend on the level of your students and/or on what else you plan to do with the latter half of the term. and what period you will be using it. however it would be fine to slow the pace down a bit and focus more on reading. arrange the desks into groups. and picnic materials before the day of the lesson. so that they can tell the students. before class. and perhaps work out some things they would say if they met one of the others. provided they are wearing their mask. only long enough for all the characters to meet each other and the students’ interests to be piqued. so emphasize that if they’re having trouble with comprehension. Distribute the Medea timeline worksheet and ask them to take notes as you briefly tell the story of Jason and the Argonauts. Let them work. and Creon. After five minutes. They should introduce themselves to everyone they meet. one character per group. Day Three: Reading Medea. they should read all of the reading marked “Day One. You might opt. Also. for example. and all unassigned students should read the Chorus in synchrony. Distribute the masks. tell them they are free to stand up and get food.Before the day of the tea party. You’ll want this spread to be accessible from multiple directions. and the Chorus are present. And once they have their food. Make sure to tell the homeroom teachers where that room is. ask them to keep that question in mind. create a spread of snacks and drinks a little distance away from where you want the kids to be seated. Make sure to point out that the events of the play Medea only cover a tiny amount of space near the end of the timeline. Jason. They can read silently. Tell them to read the first “Key Section.” but most of the quiz questions come from the Key Section. they should just focus on the Key Section. and mark a timeline of your own on the board to help them follow you. so that you don’t end up with a queue. If there are extra masks. After everyone has food & drink and has settled down. NOTE: This unit plan is set up to rush students through Medea in four class periods. Creon. however. so that you can initially seat all the Medeas together. Tell them that the story of Medea began long before the play. and acting like their characters. all the Jasons together. and you might give them class time to read all of “Day One” before you quiz them on it. For homework. The interactive part of the lesson needn’t go on that long.

Call on students for answers. so that they won’t be confused when a coherent meaning isn’t contained in each line. Briefly lecture on Euripides and the Three Classical Unities. and then have them read their answers aloud to a partner. masks Procedures: Give them a few minutes to review and compare notes before giving them the quiz.Materials: Spare copies of the Medea text. . masks Writing Prompt: Who is worse. The characters this time are Medea. blank lined paper for writing. quiz them. and go into some depth reviewing what happened. in class. Jason or Medea? Procedures: Repeat the quiz procedures. After the quiz ask them to take the Timeline and Greek Theater note sheet out. put them in small groups again. If you don’t finish the play today. Discuss the origins of Greek theater as a religious festival and as a contest. distribute the blank lined paper. Jason. copies of the Medea part 2 quiz. Also. copies of the Medea part 1 quiz. After reviewing the quiz answers. Tell them briefly about Thespis. part 4 Materials: Spare copies of Medea text. Once you’ve finished with your brief lecture. and the Chorus. Assign them to read the whole of “Day Three” as homework. as well as a Chorus (& possibly a Chorus Leader). briefly lecture about strophe & antistrophe and deus ex machina. Distribute masks. and ask the students to do speedwriting about the prompt – who is worse? Give them 7-10 minutes. changing directions at every period – strophe & antistrophe. read the rest of the remaining play as a class. Assign them to read the whole of “Day Two” as homework. As the Chorus speaks. Day Four: Reading Medea. two Children. You will need a Messenger. When you finish. When you’re ready. Jason. more or less. Put them in the middle of the room – or as close an approximation as you can improvise – and have the rest of the class stand up in a broad circle around them. show them how enjambment works when reading poetry. Put students in groups and distribute masks for Key Section Three. Jason. masks Procedures: Repeat the quiz procedures. copies of the Medea part 2 quiz. After the speedwriting. part 3 Materials: Spare copies of the Medea text. the first actor. and assign them to read Key Section Two aloud. and Chorus. When they finish writing. it can move around the room in circles. and Medea. Day Five: Reading Medea. have them exchange sheets and correct for each other. you can finish during the next class. Characters are Medea.

Day Seven: Medea debate Materials: Debate role sheet (optional) Procedures: I left the role sheet in the binder as an example. however this one is best when more informal. divide the two teams to opposite sides of the room. &c. Let the debate go on all period if possible.” Write the word on the board. if necessary. the reflection is homework for the next class. After that. . and will try to put all the blame squarely on the other person. and ask what its component parts means (“patri-” father and “-archy” top or beginning or source). Afterwards. distribute the Medea reflection sheet and briefly walk them through both questions. meanwhile. They should have at least ten of these. and that they can choose which one they want to write about. use the 1st and 2nd person pronouns. pointing out the strengths of each answer. When the preparation time is up. phrased as neutrally as possible – “Whose fault is it that the children died? That Creon and his daughter died?” “Why didn’t Jason ask Medea’s permission before getting engaged?” &c. If the debate ends.” for example . Confer with them after each argument. move on to a brief lecture about “patriarchy. but they are never required to. and what goes along with that? The students should be able to help you come up with a telling set of parallel associations – heaven and hell/good and evil/sane and insane/logical and emotional/civilized and barbarian/life and death/day and night/sun and moon. Give them 5-7 minutes to prepare their speeches. though. Let them write for the whole period. even it out. Excuse two or three to be “Judges. allow the judges to ask one question at a time. The judges can award up to 3 points for any given answer. If they finish – free writing! If they don’t finish.Day Six: Reflecting on Medea Materials: Extra copies of the text. The judges. No one can speak twice until everyone has answered at least once. As much as possible. . organic and improvised. and try to say whatever their character would actually say. will brainstorm a list of questions. . Draw a horizontal line on the board and write “man” above and “woman” below. Only one person should speak in answer to each question. Emphasize that they don’t have to answer both questions. copies of the Medea reflection sheet. Split the class into two groups. great! If not. Then write “up” next to “man” and “down” next to woman. Students will assume the role of either Jason or Medea. they should become the character. If their opinions already divided them neatly in half. Ask: what else goes along with “up” and “down”? “Sky” and “Earth. unless the debater cites information from the actual text. and have them give their opening speeches. masks Procedures: Finish the play as a class.” Tell each side that they will have to make an opening speech at the outset and a closing speech at the end.

it’s just a bias that’s deeply built into our culture. . it’s homework. Patriarchy is a myth that ancient writers like Euripides deliberately created. But . NOTE: This assumes prior knowledge of thesis statements and forecast sentences. They are to use evidence from the text to prove that the playwright intended to make one character or another look worse. do it first. it isn’t natural. It’s a myth!” &c. and not merely which character they themselves support. If they do not finish their draft in class. introduce the writing assignment. If students seem confused by these. Walk them through the outline. perhaps writing an example thesis and forecast on the board. If you have higher level students. After the lecture. part 1 Materials: Copies of the persuasive essay outline (copy it onto one doubled-sided B4 sheet) Procedures: If you did not have time for the patriarchy lecture. Day Ten: Revision Letters Materials: Copies of Peer Revision letter handout for Medea . Stress that the question is now who Euripides sides with. Tell them that the deep issue in this play is what Euripides is saying about gender. take an extra day to focus on them. the outlining sheet is homework. and women all the lower associations – “It’s tempting. isn’t it? But it isn’t actually true. Day Nine: Persuasive Essay. and provide a few brief example hooks.man up sky woman down earth heaven good hell evil sane crazy reason emotion city life day nature death night Jason___ Medea Ask them if it makes sense to them to give men all the upper associations. and that society needs to be run by men – in other words. Note that the fourth paragraph has a slightly different format than the two before it. or is he saying that women are naturally dangerous and unstable. and we’ve been repeating it so long that it almost seems natural and true to us. part 2 Materials: Extra copies of outlining sheet Procedures: Before they begin working. . Pass out the outline sheet. and honor is coming to the female sex” &c. Also review titles and the concept of leaving the reader with a few final thoughts in the conclusion. . and introduce the assignment. Allow them to have the rest of the period to write. . patriarchal? Day Eight: Persuasive Essay. and the night feminine. Is he saying that women and foreigners are treated unfairly. there’s no reason why the day should be masculine. they can begin working on their first typed drafts. they can also opt to tackle the question of patriarchy & whether Medea is a subversive tale or a cautionary one. Show them the way Euripides uses this patriarchal set – “The waters of the sacred rivers / are flowing in reverse . And women are not more emotional or more in touch with nature than men are. If they do not finish. review good beginnings. If they finish the outline in class. after restating the thesis.

such as abrupt transitions and the use of 1st person singular pronouns. After students have read each other’s revision letters. Day Twelve: Persuasive Essays. and one for their partners. Once (most) everyone is finished. . Go over common mistakes. If any students haven’t finished. Remind them that you’ll be grading them on how well they’re able to use their partner’s feedback (even if that isn’t true).Procedures: Distribute revision letter handout. If they don’t finish. isolate them and set them to work. Revision letters are homework if they can’t finish them in class. Let them have the rest of the period to write. if necessary. Ask them to print two copies of their essays – one for you. You may use the supplementary assignment to differentiate down a bit if students are struggling. Remind them that their letters are due next class. you can use the rest of the period to prepare for an exam or introduce a new unit. part 3 Materials: Edited first drafts to hand back (if possible) Procedures: Hand back edited drafts while students print revision letters. Allow them the rest of the period to write. their second draft is homework. & that they therefore shouldn’t wait on a partner who hasn’t finished his or her first draft yet. encourage them to try and use at least one suggestion from a partner’s letter. and have them read them to each other in groups of three or four. and review the kinds of specific feedback that should go into each paragraph. part 4 Procedures: Ask students to print their final drafts. They can be the second or third reader for someone else. In fact those who haven’t finished their first drafts should probably write a revision letter for someone else before being allowed to finish their own papers. Day Eleven: Persuasive Essay.

” OR: “You’re right. and conclusion of this essay. He claims to be so logical. Help your partner keep what’s working. I’d never thought about the fact that Creon’s daughter doesn’t have a name. Does the essay begin in a way that gets your attention? Does the ending leave you with something new to think about? How could the writer improve these things?  Thesis. but as you pointed out. For example. writers need to know what they are doing right. For example. can you suggest a sentence that might work?  Conclusion. Does this essay follow the outline format? Is there a forecast sentence that clearly shows the order of ideas? Do the body paragraphs begin with appropriate topic sentences?  Style. What new lessons or ideas did your partner discuss?  Also point out specific ideas or quotations you liked. main ideas. he would have known it was dangerous to mess with Medea!” In other words: Be specific. Paragraph 1. “Your description of the blood on Medea’s dress was a great way to begin your paper. if he were really thinking clearly. memorable. Help your partner revise for the following things:  Clarity.”  You might include what you learned from the essay. What is the main idea of this essay? Is it clearly stated in a single sentence? If not.Peer Response: A Letter Your name: _________________________________________________________________Class:___#:___ Partner’s name: __________________________________________________________________________ Today. You will write at least a 300 word letter in response to your partner’s paper. Swap papers.  Analysis / lessons learned. What is delightful. Tell what worked. What conclusions does the writer draw from his or her arguments? What new ideas does he or she put into the essay? Let the writer know if any of the quotations lack an explanation. or does it seem abrupt? What could the writer do to improve the ending? . find a partner.  Organization. as well as what they need to revise. “I really liked your point about the role of women in Greek society. outstanding about this piece? What can you say to keep this writer writing? Make this your first paragraph. there is nothing worse that betraying someone who loves you.” OR: “It was interesting to think about the differences between the things Jason says and the consequences of his actions. In order to keep writing. Where there any quotations that you didn’t understand? Tell your partner if you’d like more information. Paragraph 2. you might say. Does the ending make you think.  Discuss the introduction.