This is part of my Road of Trials series in which I am chronicling my effort to plan a Hero’s Journey based Lesson in my 11th Grade HIS202: American History from 1877 to the Present. Click Here to see Part 1 Introduction, Part 2 Call to Adventure and Part 3 Meeting the Mentor

A Quick Diagram Refresher:

The Road Of Trials

In the monomyth this is the point where the Hero learns of their Enemies and Allies. They will faces obstacles that help the hero transition into the new world. In Star Wars Luke was just a Farm Boy that dreamed of glory. Once he decides to take up the call to adventure (R.I.P. Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru) he goes through several trials before ultimately crossing the threshold in the Final Test that is the Death Star. Luke, learns to work a lightsaber by dualing the stunner robot, then shows his bravery and ingenuity when with the help of his Ally Han Solo rescues Princess Leia from the Dungeon, and finally shows off his space battle skills by blasts TIE Fighters in the Millennium Falcon. (Ok, so Leia saved them… you get the point). Trials often come in groups of three and show how the character is developing towards becoming a hero though they haven’t had that final test yet. In this stage the Hero is aided by advice (Obi-Wan teaching), amulets (the lightsaber), and secret agents (Han Solo and ghost Obi).

Utah twins born on 'Star Wars Day' named after Luke and Leia - Deseret News
ah, the good ole days…

Classroom Applications of the Road of Trials

This part of the Hero’s Journey is simply formative assessment of personalized learning activities. Most descriptions of the Road of Trials even suggest that the “Hero in Training” will fail some of these trials only to learn from their mistakes and the grow into a better Hero. This is Freedom to Fail and growth mentality. The expectation is that the trials will assess and shape the particular skills that the hero will need in the Crossing the Threshold ‘final test’. Luke’s trials were Lightsaber skills, courage and ingenuity, and space combat. All things that will be needed in the final Death Star battle. In classroom lingo this means align the assessments to the standards.

In my Civil Rights Hero’s Journey lesson path we are starting in the Gilded Age and the initial trials will focus on the Ida B. Wells, Booker T. Washington, and WEB DuBois and their efforts. The Crossing the Threshold final test entry into the fantastical will center on the Red Summer of 1919. In the Red Summer assessment will focus on analyzing several primary source documents, determining causation, and then comparing events. This means that I will need to develop a trials that cover the same standards. This will need further development but Ida B Wells was known for her anti-lynching efforts which can be traced back to several of her friends being lynched in Mississippi. This led her to write scathing op-eds opposing the practice which then made her a target of lynching threats. This trial would be an ideal assessment of both primary source analysis and determining causation. The Civil Rights tactics of Booker T Washington and WEB DuBois are often compared. These figures could be used as a comparison trial. Since trials tend to come in 3s, the final trial could assess basic content knowledge of the Gilded Age Period. To enhance the “Battle Element” of the format this could take place in the form of a dice based Boss Fight.

All told this would give the Journey 3 trials.

  1. Ida B Wells Primary Source Analysis (there is a great deal to work with here)
  2. Washington v. DuBois. I envision this as centered around the Washington’s “Atlanta Compromise” speech and DuBois response to “accommodationism”.
  3. Gilded Age Civil Rights content boss fight.

Implications for previous Journey Elements.

In laying this out I see that a part of the Call to Adventure I will need to establish the “Rules” for this new fantasy world. The Trials will need to have some battle mechanics – especially the boss fight element. This means that in the Meet the Mentor phase the Mentor will have to provide the first “weapon”. My initial thought, since this Journey is going to be magical realism, is to make the “weapon” writing instruments – magically infused pens, pencils, quills. The “Enemies” will be magically infused projections of a conspiracy theorist/wizard bent on using the ‘primary source power’ to create a fascist state centered on disinformation and manipulation.

The successful completion of each trial will give the hero an artifact that when combined will give the hero the ability to enter to “cross the threshold“. Again, my initial thought is to have the three pieces combine to unlock a Google Form Digital Lock that will lead them into the “FINAL TEST” – an investigation into the Red Summer of 1919.