Teaching Students About Mark Harris

Educating students about influential figures is critical for nurturing their interest in history, arts, and culture. One such notable individual to consider teaching students about is Mark Harris, an accomplished American author, critic, and educator. This article provides a comprehensive guide to introducing students to the life and achievements of Mark Harris and how his work can inspire them.

Early Life and Education

Begin by providing students with information about Mark Harris’ early life and upbringing. Born in 1922 in Mt. Vernon, New York, Harris grew up during the Great Depression and developed an interest in journalism at an early age. He completed his undergraduate studies at the City College of New York and later earned his Master’s degree from the University of Denver.

Career Achievements

Mark Harris was a prolific writer who penned over two dozen novels throughout his career. You can discuss some of his most famous works with your students:

1. ‘Bang the Drum Slowly’ (1956) – This novel follows the story of a professional baseball player facing terminal illness. It showcases themes such as human relationships, empathy, and dealing with adversity. The book later became a successful movie adaptation, cementing Harris’ legacy as a influential author.

2. ‘The Southpaw’ (1953) – This was Harris’ first novel in his renowned baseball series that centered around the protagonist, Henry Wiggen. The book explores themes such as ambition, friendship, and life choices.

3. ‘Something About a Soldier’ (1957) – A non-baseball novel by Harris focused on soldiers during World War II, diving into human nature and exploring characters’ moral dilemmas.

In addition to his career as an author, Mark Harris also made significant contributions as an educator and literary critic. He taught creative writing at several universities across the United States and played a vital role in shaping young writers’ careers.

Key Themes and Discussion Points

When discussing Mark Harris with your students, consider exploring some of the major themes and ideas found in his work. This can serve as a springboard for meaningful classroom discussions and writing assignments:

1. Perseverance and overcoming adversity: Discuss how Harris’ characters persist through difficult circumstances, demonstrating resilience.

2. The importance of friendship: Throughout his writing, Harris often emphasized strong bonds between characters, highlighting how friendship can serve as an anchor during challenging times.

3. Moral dilemmas and personal growth: Many of Harris’ works explore ethical questions that his characters must grapple with, providing opportunities for students to evaluate their own beliefs and values.

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