"I am a Minnesotan by birth and a traveler in wild places by vocation and compulsion." -Paul Gruchow

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Eng. 180: Monty Python Does Agatha Christie

Yesterday was the final act of "The Mousetrap," which I thought went very well in my class.  As I mentioned last week, I've determined that this particular class does much better when it's in small groups--much less intimidating to speak up--and so we spent yesterday in small groups.  There are six groups (they're divided up into groups for their author presentations, so I used those groups yesterday, so they'd get used to working with each other--also, one of my students had written in a Think Piece how much he enjoyed working with his small group and hoped we could do more of it).

But we started with Monty Python's Agatha Christie sketch.  It's Friday, after all, and there was actually serious reasons why I wanted to bring in the genius of Monty Python.  I wasn't surprised that few of my students had heard of Monty Python, but I've about given up asking such questions, because they just haven't and it makes me feel old.  Anyway.  I prepped them for this sketch by asking them to make note of what seems familiar and not just what they're making fun of, but why it's funny.

After it finished, I asked what sounded familiar and we talked about the locked door murder mystery, the bumbling policeman, assuming people are who they say they are, and more.  And then we talked through how the cast is making fun of those fairly stock elements in Agatha Christie.  My students may have been mystfied by the genius that is Monty Python, but I had fun with it and I think it loosened up my students on a sleepy Friday morning.

Mostly, I think any class that I can use Monty Python in is a success of critical thinking on the teacher's part.

And then we got into Act 2 of "The Mousetrap" and it was fantastic.  I'm a little sad to be leaving Dame Agatha behind, but it's hard to be too sad when next week means the Hard-Boileds and Raymond Chandler and Howard Hawks' 1946 film The Big Sleep.  This also means that there's a lot of reading I get to justify this weekend as "class prep."  I love my life.

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