In the 2019-2020 school year, English teacher Nicole Fuller decided to create a literature and psychology elective. This elective focuses on self-reflection, mindfulness and analyzing why people make the decisions they do.
Fuller has been interested in psychology since college, but was just recently given the opportunity to teach it.
“Well, it’s really been a process. We were asked if anyone had any elective ideas, and I knew I was interested in teaching an elective, so I thought it was a good time to throw out the idea for this class. I guess this class could pair well with the young adult literature class, but there’s definitely more of a focus on mindfulness, self-reflection and the psychological elements, than there is on the reading part of the class,” Fuller said.
Fuller’s motivation for learning about psychology came from when she took her first intro to psychology class in college.
“I found it really intriguing, and I was able to change my perception on things. So, I thought it would be cool to bring it to a classroom. And being an English teacher, I found literature natural to apply. I originally became interested in psychological theories, specifically Myers Brigg personalities. I found that as I was watching TV and reading books, I was starting to think of them in terms of those psychological theories,” Fuller said.
Fuller believes that this elective focuses more on English than science.
“I don’t necessarily talk about the components of the brain in this class. With psychology, I’m interested in it and I think it’s valuable to know the scientific part of it, but that’s not what I focused on. I was always more focused on applying it to my daily life and trying to get to know people better. I think it’s more a class of empathy and understanding people, than solely psychology,” Fuller said.
Some students believe that English classes study the same thing over and over when analyzing a book.
“The class is always focused on the things that I don’t get to teach in English class. So, when we are studying a novel, we are talking about things like literary elements. Whereas, adding a layer of Freud or talking about character motivation in terms of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs is very interesting,” Fuller said.
Freshman Lia Sankey took the literature and psychology elective. Sankey loved the class and all the psychology theories covered.
“I think this class was a good addition, and people will enjoy it. I thought the material was very enjoyable and beneficial to my education,” Sankey said. “I would take this class as a full year course.”
Fuller also worked with the school librarian, Tanya Lucas, to help students become mindful.
“The psychology of literature class helps students become aware of their thinking patterns, as well as fictitious characters of literature thinking patterns. It combines the science of psychology with the science of mindfulness which provides an insight into the workings of the human brain,” Lucas said.
Despite sharing the students with another teacher, Fuller thoroughly enjoys teaching the class.
“It is probably my favorite class to teach just because I think you get to know the students on a different level, and I think you get to see students interact with material that they haven’t always thought about. With this class, I always find it very exciting that when we learn about one of these theories, not only are students able to do the class work, but you can see in self-reflection that people can actually apply it to their lives,” Fuller said.
Students believe that the class teaches real world problems and solutions.
“In school there is always the question of when you will use the material or how it is beneficial, and sometimes you cannot always see a clear connection with some subjects. I think with this class you can,” Fuller said.
This class is also offered to virtual students as an online course.