Instructors’ Teaching Experience

I have taught this novel twice, once in a Fictions course on childhood and once in Interpretation of Literature. Both times, the novel was listed as a favorite novel on student evaluations. I believe the novel was well liked because the plot moves quickly and Ender is character both classes liked. I decided to teach the novel because Card’s portray of children is remarkably non-childlike while being childlike. Students struggled with portrayal of the genius Ender, always amazed at his observations and strategies while not believing its possible for a six, seven or eight year old to think like Ender. I enjoyed teaching the novel because it provided an introduction to science-fiction novels and good fuel for some ethical debates. [LeDon Sweeney,]

Classroom Strategies


Regardless of what edition of the book one gets, this novel can very easily be taught in four class periods. I taught the book in four sessions in a Tuesday/Thursday class. As mentioned, the plotting is quick so students will have no trouble keeping. I think one could teach the class in three class periods with little problem, perhaps using a fourth class to consider issues of child soldiers in the real world or portrays of children in conflicts. [LeDon Sweeney,]

Child Soldier

This is not a topic I start with, but it is one I come to by the novel’s end. Though Ender is not forced into physical combat against the buggers, he is still used as child. I ask my students if they believe it is ever appropriate to let children fight in a war. I also ask them how Card has the International Fleet justify the use of children for war. [LeDon Sweeney,]

The Other

The novel’s ultimate act is the xenocide of buggers. On the final day of reading, we discuss the ramification of Ender’s act and whether it was justified. The idea of the Other is present throughout the novel and I try to get students to recognize when it deployed. [LeDon Sweeney,]

Genius Child

In his author’s definitive edition of the book, Card writes that biggest fans of the novel are talented and gifted children who readily identify with Ender’s plight. One of the issues I address in class is role of talented and gifted children in our society. Does society have a right to push them into doing something they are good at even if they do not want to do it? As part of this discussion, I present information about talented and gifted funding in the United States and history of talented and gifted education. [LeDon Sweeney,]