A Modest Proposal: Satirical Solutions to Real Problems

Senioritis. It is that time of year where students in all grade levels are anxious for warmer temperatures and sunny days. Typically seniors are starting to wind down their year, but that is not the case at Friendswood High School. English IV students have been gearing up to complete a final project as a culmination of all the skills they have learned throughout their time in high school.

This project includes students choosing their own favorite fictional novel to read and analyze and discover solutions to major social issues our country is facing.

Leading up to this process, students read selections from A Modest Proposal which satirically criticized the British government in the 18th Century. After reading and understanding effective uses of satire, students created their own Modest Proposals for current events. Satirical literature typically uses sarcasm to criticize a serious issue in societies today. Mark Twain was an expert in this style of writing.

Students in one group took on the challenge to address modern racism. Group members Baylor Phillips, Karim Mohmoud, Hudson Green, and Brandon Sterken researched discrimination in local areas and came up with the satirical solution for everyone to partake in the scientific engineering of their skin color so all people can look the same. They discovered in their research that many societies strive to embrace racial diversity, but still fall short.

Through this process, student Baylor Phillips hopes her group members “learned that not every big issue has a simple answer. Everything is more complicated than it seems. The best thing a student can do is walk around in someone else’s shoes. I hope students can understand different people better by doing that.”

From here, students will return from Spring Break to choose their own novels which address the issues they began understanding in their Modest Proposals.

Teachers Jennifer Barmore and Jenna Crosson look forward to students creating solutions to real problems they observe every day and drawing their own conclusions from what they analyze in their novels. From those conclusions, teachers hope students will grow in awareness and compassion for societal issues.