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ERIC Number: ED195490
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1977
Pages: 7
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Discovering the Exceptional Person Through Willa Cather.
Jensen, Marvin D.; Schmidt, Otis Rhea
This paper argues that secondary social studies teachers should draw illustrations and insights from creative writers such as Willa Cather, particularly when teaching about leadership, heroism, deviation, and innovation. Traditionally, social scientists have proceeded deductively describing human behavior in terms of averages, norms, and frequency distributions. But some social scientists have criticized the deductive approach because it fails to recognize and appreciate the exceptional person--the heroic individual who innovates, leads, creates, or resists. As a result some social scientists recommend an inductive approach to the study of human behavior--an approach which seeks to learn from the exceptional individual. Such an approach may come closer to revealing the intricacies of human motivations and behaviors. The study of Willa Cather's themes can lead inductively to a better understanding of human behavior at its best. Willa Cather explores and honors the exceptional person. In "My Antonia" and "O Pioneers" she personalized the history of pioneer Nebraska by revealing the individual anguish and resolve which tamed the land. In "A Wagner Matinee," she honored the grace of a pioneer woman who gave thirty years to the harsh struggle of establishing a homestead, but whose spirit could still respond to a symphony concert. In addition to tracing individual struggles against external conditions, Willa Cather also explored the internal conflicts which can be as formidable as outside forces. For example, in her Pulitzer Prize novel "One of Ours," a young man had to choose between his obligations to family and land, and his own desire for a formal education. In "The Lost Lady" and "My Mortal Enemy," Willa Cather wrote of imperfect women, yet women whose struggles against their weaknesses revealed a special kind of heroism. (Author/RM)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A