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Silent Spring Discussion Questions

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

'Silent Spring' is an environmental book by Rachel Carson about the harmful effects of pesticides. This asset provides questions to lead classroom discussions about this book.

Silent Spring

What are the consequences for using pesticides? According to Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, the damage that pesticides cause are much more dire than most people realize. The book uses research and data to show the harmful effects that chemicals like DDT have on water, soil, plants, and animals. Further, the novel connects the chemicals in our food and environment to cancer and an increased population of pesticide-resistant insects. Students will learn what they can do to reverse the damage. The questions presented here provide topics for thoughtful classroom discussions about this book.

Chapters 1-5

  • Why do you think the author chose to begin her non-fiction book with a fictitious story? What effect does this story have on the reader? What is the tone of this book? Why do you think the author chose to write this book?
  • Why is the environment less capable of handling dangers in the environment now than it was 100 years ago? How have agricultural practices contributed to pest control problems? Why are government agencies unable to effectively regulate pesticides? What regulations do you think are needed?
  • Most people have toxic chemicals stored in their organs and fat cells. How are the chemicals transferred to people? What are the health risks associated with synthetic chemicals? Why do you think countries such as England and Australia are more likely to ban toxic chemicals compared to the United States?
  • What are some ways the water supply becomes infected? Why is water contamination particularly dangerous for humans? What are some possible long-term consequences if this continues?
  • How is the soil impacted by the use of pesticides? What happens when soil becomes contaminated?

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