The Screwtape Letters is a clever, thought-provoking text that can get teenagers (or adults) to examine their own moral development in a new light. I used the book with a class of ninth graders, as an introduction to a Morality class, and I’m going to be sharing lesson plans for the unit study.
Here’s what I posted about it at the time – you may have to squint to see through the dust that’s accumulated since 2006:
My freshman class kicked off the semester with The Screwtape Letters. I was worried it might be a bit over their heads, but I made a very detailed study guide for the first ten letters that has helped them to understand Lewis’ writing style. My husband downloaded a recording of John Cleese reading the first few letters, and I played them for the students to help them understand how to read the book. I confess, to almighty blog, that I utilized a pirated recording in my religion class. I do intend to purchase it someday…but this was a last-minute find. (EDITOR’S NOTE: HAVE NOT PURCHASED YET.)
Today, we had a panel discussion in which each student played the role of a “devil” and discussed the best way to tempt teenagers. Their assignment for the week was to write a letter in the style of Screwtape on the topic of how to tempt a teenaged “patient,” and to address the topics discussed in the first 10 letters, including
o how to use the patient’s relationship with his/her parents to your advantage
o the role of friendships in temptation
o how to manipulate the patient’s prayer life
For a first discussion, it went fairly smoothly. Interesting points – an argument over whether it’s best to totally isolate the teenager from friends (so that he’ll blame God for his loneliness) or to surround the teenager with friends who can lead him astray. There also was a discussion of teenaged love which I didn’t really follow and had to bring back on track. I would like to see them get more specific than “peer pressure is our best strategy,” because I think modern teenagers are taught from late elementary school to parrot such wisdom about peer pressure without a deeper examination of what that really means. But I would definitely say that the entire class was engaged in the discussion and looking forward to the next one.
Ooh – update! Check it out – you can download a recording of Ralph Cosham reading The Screwtape Letters from Audible.com for – whatever the monthly fee is? And this site claims to be a storehouse of copyright-free recordings, and contains the original John Cleese reading of Screwtape Letters.
Apparently, there is now a Focus on the Family audio production of The Screwtape Letters, with Andy Serkis (Gollum!) as Screwtape. Haven’t checked it out myself, but I think the more dramatic, less dry and British (which is my preferred style) rendition might actually be better in a classroom/small group setting. Here’s the trailer: