Teaching Students About Frank Herbert
Frank Herbert, known for his esteemed novel “Dune” and its accompanying series, is one of the most influential science fiction writers of the 20th century. When introducing students to the world of science fiction and speculative fiction, it is imperative that educators take time to explore Herbert’s visionary works and his impact on literature. This article walks teachers through an engaging approach to teaching students about the life and works of this prolific writer.
The Life of Frank Herbert
Start by providing students with an overview of Frank Herbert’s life. Born in 1920 in Tacoma, Washington, he began by writing adventure stories and became serious about writing science fiction during the 1950s. He was influenced by a range of writers such as H.G. Wells, Robert Heinlein, and Isaac Asimov. Environmentally conscious, Herbert held several occupations before becoming a full-time writer, including being a newspaper reporter, photographer, and ecologist.
“Dune,” his magnum opus, was first published in 1965 and quickly garnered critical acclaim for its originality and immersive world-building. The novel deals with complex themes such as politics, survival, destiny, human potential, religion, ecology, and social dynamics. Discuss key plot points with your students while diving deeper into the unique terminology, like Bene Gesserit or Atreides.
Hold group discussions or activities to examine themes presented in “Dune” such as environmentalism and sociopolitical complexities. Encourage critical thinking by asking students how these themes might parallel real-world issues or reflect Herbert’s perspective at the time; this will provide a broader understanding of classic science fiction’s far-reaching implications.
Exploring Other Works
Beyond “Dune,” Frank Herbert created numerous short stories and novels that showcase his exceptional ability to imagine compelling futures. Introduce your students to a selection of these works, such as “The Dosadi Experiment,” “Destination: Void,” and “The God Makers.” Compare and contrast these works, discussing the recurring themes and ideas in his body of work.
Showcase contemporary interpretations of Herbert’s works, such as Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 adaptation of “Dune,” which can engage students in visual and auditory storytelling. Other adaptations include David Lynch’s 1984 film, a 2000 miniseries, comics, and board games associated with Herbert’s universe. These multimedia resources can help students appreciate how Herbert’s stories remain influential and relevant today.
Teaching students about Frank Herbert and his lasting impact on science fiction is an enriching experience that broadens their understanding of literature. By exploring his life, analyzing his themes, discussing his other works, and examining contemporary interpretations, educators can foster a deeper appreciation for the imagination, craft, and creation that established Frank Herbert as a master of science fiction.