Friday, July 8, 2016

A Rat Caught in a Trap

If you've read any of this blog, you probably know that I'm not a huge fan of digital life, especially when it draws youngters' attention resources away from academic pursuits.  But I will admit that I am glad for YouTube inasmuch as it enables me to get access to gems like the film version of An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, based on Ambrose Bierce's brilliant short story by the same name.

I read this with my 8th graders every year (though I cut out the last paragraph, so they don't know the outcome), then watch the video.  It's a good day.  Great story, fantastic film adaptation--remarkable for many things, one of which is almost complete absence of dialogue.

Well, today, my 8-year-old son and his friend were wanting to watch videos about trapping rats and mice.  I said, I got one for you, and I turned on the video.   (They don't know the story.)

It was interesting to sit in the other room and listen to my son trying to figure out what was going on.  Almost immediately it was, "Is somebody going to get hanged?"  Then as he was watching the preparation for the hanging and working out what was going to happen.  "Oh, I get it...that guy will step off the board, and the other guy will fall."

Soon, it was, "What's this have to do with rat traps?"

"Wait," I said.  Then the line (added to the film, not in the story) came up.  "Payton Farquhar.  You're caught, like a rat in a trap."

When Farquhar fell into the creek and swam away, it was, "Did you ever think he should have been shot by now (with the number of soldiers shooting at him)?"  And, "I don't think he could swim that far...he would be tired."  Later, during the long run, "He would have been out of breath by now."  And, eventually, "He couldn't run for this long!"

Then, upon the reveal at the end, "Ohhhh...that was harsh."

Not a 5 on the AP test, but this is"engagement with the text," as it were.

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