by Todd Strasser
The Wave Theme of Education
The Wave is set mostly inside Gordon High, so naturally, education is a major theme. Over the eight days of teacher Ben Ross' experiment, the students at Gordon learn a thing or two about the other themes in this novel. And in fact, the same goes for Ben Ross himself. Ben tries to push the boundaries of the normal don't-start-a-cult teaching style by coming up with a crazy experiment. In the end, he learns his lesson the hard way. And so this novel speaks to the difficulty that teachers face when addressing sensitive historical events, and to the difficulty that students face in relating those events to their own lives.
Questions About Education
- Would you like to have Ben Ross for a teacher? Why or why not?
- Do you think Ben's experiment was good for his students? What, if anything, do you think they learned? And what did Ben learn?
- Has this novel helped you better understand the Holocaust? Why?
- Is The Wave commenting on a flaw in the education system (given that Ben has to go so far in his attempt to get students to understand)?
Chew on This
Ben Ross' experiment might have turned out badly, but it was worth it. Those students learned a lesson they'll never forget.
The Wave was a bad idea, no questions asked. At least we now know how not to teach the Holocaust.