Mythology through the Back Door
Today’s college composition courses and the students gracing our thresholds need more from the typical entry level writing assignments that are often mundane and repetitive of high school studies. In order to engage the new generation of students and encourage them to write more and enjoy doing so, educators must have a hook. The study of mythology could be our answer. Mythology has the potential to light a fire in students and leave them begging for more by term’s end. Often, students do not see the obvious—the parallels between mythology in the fictional sense and mythology in terms of its relationship to all facets of life. They also miss the relationship between mythology and the courses in history, philosophy, art, religion, science, math, and technology. Students who have shared their stories with me attest to the fact that the information gained in the study of myths makes its way into their assignments in other classes. So while the original intent is to engage students, make them want to read and make them want to write, the unexpected boon is the capacity that mythology holds for crossing lines within the curriculum. Infusing our curriculum with the study of mythology has the power to erase the rigid academic boundaries of old-school pedagogues, allowing students to realize that myths have relevance across all disciplines. Perhaps this means that one day we can justifiably use the front door to teach mythology as a theme in freshmen writing programs.