Informational texts to accompany Aldous Huxley's Brave New World
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.
Close Reading Lessons
- Robots in Disguise: The Psychology of Addition (Grades 6-8; CCSS.CCRA.R.8)
- Your Brain on Movies (Grades 6-8; CCSS.CCRA.R.8)
- Science Fiction Inspires Innovation in Real World (Grades 9,10; CCSS.CCRA.R.6)
- Newsbound: Are You Being Tracked? License Plate Readers Explained (Grades 9,10; CCSS.CCRA.R.8)
- Think It, And A Computer Will Make It Happen (Grades 11,12; CCSS.CCRA.R.1)
- Troubling Disclosures Are Likely to Change How the NSA Does Its Spying (Grades 11,12; CCSS.CCRA.R.1)
- The Shock Machine (Grades 11,12; CCSS.CCRA.R.1)
Applied Argumentative Writing Lessons
- NYC’s Trans Fat Ban Worked: Fast Food Diners Are Eating Healthier (Grade 8; CCSS.RI.8.1; CCSS.W.8.1)
- Tap to Pay (Not So Much in the U.S.) (Grade 9; CCSS.RI.9-10.2; CCSS.W.9-10.1)
- How Regulation Really Does Change Eating Behavior (Grade 10; CCSS.RI.9-10.1; CCSS.W.9-10.1)
- Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading? (Grade 10; CCSS.RI.9-10.2; CCSS.W.9-10.1)
- All Together Now, to Each His Own Sync (Grade 11; CCSS.RI.11-12.2 ;CCSS.W.11-12.1)
- Drop and Give Uncle Sam 20 (Grade 11; CCSS.RI.11-12.1; CCSS.W.11-12.1)
- The Internet Diet (Grade 12; CCSS.RI.11-12.2; CCSS.W.11-12.1)
Differentiated Lesson Sets for Grades 4-12
- Technology and Impact: What problems has technology helped us solve and what new problems has the introduction of technology created?
- Government Role in Health: What role should the government play in regulating health?