Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb” Makes Space for Our Own Light

Amanda Gorman Reading The Hill We Climb Biden Harris Inauguration

Watch Amanda Gorman read “The Hill We Climb,” then join us for a free Shared Inquiry discussion of the poem.

Amanda Gorman’s poem for the Biden inauguration, “The Hill We Climb,” was addressed to “Americans and the world.” We at the Great Books Foundation, who seek to use literature as a way to better listen and connect with each other, were tuned in and inspired.

After watching Gorman recite her piece, two colleagues and I met to brainstorm. We knew that Gorman’s words deserved discussion and that adults as well as students deserved an opportunity to explore the layers of language in the poem. Our goal was to use the Shared Inquiry process and open-ended questions to help students define what the poem meant to them.

For me, it was especially important to home in on the parts of the poem that acknowledge our collective aspirations. You can both see and feel a stark divide in our country that impacts the how and why of the education industry. While poems are not, nor are they meant to be, blueprints for the future, they can be guiding stars for our collective moral compass—in Gorman’s words, “we lift our gazes not to what stands between us / but what stands before us.” What stands before me is a new generation of students who deserve the right to know the worth of their minds and hearts. Our lesson plan is our small contribution to them and the teachers who lead them, whether it be from Zoom or their classroom.

Gorman ends the poem with these lines: “For there is always light, / if only we’re brave enough to see it / If only we’re brave enough to be it.” Getting teachers and students alike to see the light within themselves—that light of critical thinking and empathy—in order to shine for our future is why I work with the Great Books Foundation.

Download “The Hill We Climb” Lesson Plans

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We hope you join our free Shared Inquiry discussion of “The Hill We Climb,” happening on February 9 at noon central time.

WHAT Shared Inquiry discussion of “The Hill We Climb”
WHEN Tuesday, February 9, noon–1:00 p.m. central
WHERE Via Zoom
REGISTER Please fill out this form to confirm your attendance