Since I’ve been teaching the same middle school English classes for five years, I like to find ways to mix it up and keep it fresh every once in a while. This year, I decided to do it by introducing the concept of the hero’s journey, also known as the monomyth.
My 8th graders are just starting The Hobbit and writing their short stories. (The timing is very intentional. :) ) Teaching about the hero’s journey seemed a perfect way to compliment both. After all, the hero’s journey is everywhere around us, both in reality and the stories we tell.
To help explain the concept, I found a great TedTalk that explains the different parts of the cycle and how it’s applied to a variety of well-known stories.
When I first started the lesson on the hero’s journey, my students stared at me quite blankly. However, once they saw the video, they lit up and suddenly realized just how many stories are, indeed, telling the same story, regardless of genre or setting.
That’s one of the amazing things about stories, though. It doesn’t matter how many times we tell the same basic stories. Each retelling is unique yet still resonates with us in the same ways.