English classes use hashtag to connect students to “Walden”

Erienne Terpak, Staff Writer

A recent study of Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden” in English classes has resulted in a new hashtag that has been tweeted by students over 50 times: #PSHSreadsThoreau. After reading “Walden,” students were prompted to delve deeper and find Thoreau quotes that spoke to them.

English teacher Kimburley Murphy said she hoped exposing the students to these ideas would allow them to find someone to whom they could relate.

“Our students were reading ‘Walden’ and I wanted them to be able to experience Thoreau on a deeper level outside of just that novel,” Murphy said. “I suggested that they Google quotes by Thoreau, find some that speak to them and tweet them. I hoped they’d find out more about Thoreau and decide to read on their own and have fun with it.”¬†

“I want them to discover that there’s this old guy who’s managed to capture so much of what they think and feel and express it so precisely.”

— English teacher Kimburley Murphy

After reading ‘Walden’ in class, according to Murphy, some students took her advice and proceeded to look for other Thoreau quotes that inspired them. Junior Jabari Bristow said some of them touched him in an unexpected way.

“My favorite quote was, ‘What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals,'” Bristow said. “That one really stood out to me because of an event where I got caught stealing. My mom made me write an essay about respect and the process of becoming a man and earning that respect, and that really related to my life.”

Another student, junior Zakiya Robertson, said that looking at some of Thoreau’s other words made her understand him and his work better.

“Reading what he said was really deep,” Robertson said. “It made me view him differently. I saw the other side of where he was coming from outside of ‘Walden,’ and I understand now that he was a very thoughtful person with regard to his ideas.”

The junior English classes are focused on studying views about nature. Of the four essential questions studied in class, Murphy said the most important one deals with finding out about man’s relationship with nature and finding out how the students can connect with those ideas.

“Although the students are reading ‘Walden,’ I think selections from ‘Civil Disobedience’ are inspirational as well,” Murphy said. “I want them to discover that there’s this old guy who’s managed to capture so much of what they think and feel and express it so precisely. For one, it makes them more receptive about what they learn, and secondly, it gives them the feeling of a connection that there is someone else who understands.”