Friday, November 11, 2011

lucky; or, the literary critic in me needs this to mean something

In my last post, I wrote about the film Buck. I did so for more than one reason. The first is because I like opportunities to talk about our personal responsibility to be kind to one another. It is a lost art, kindness. The second is because of what happened after the movie.

As I was saying, we watched a film about horses and kindness. I enjoyed the film and walked out of class satisfied that the documentary was a good one and that it would lend itself to some good conversations for the rest of the term. I got into my car backed out and drove about three feet and then I saw something in the road that made me stop. In the road before me was a rusted horseshoe.

Weird right? This was about 5 minutes after the movie. I was moved by the experience. I mean, it has to mean something. Doesn't it? I brought the shoe to class on Wednesday and told them about it. I used it to teach a lesson on argument. I asked them to listen to a story, to briefly summarize it and to create a thesis statement of the story.  I shared the story, and the students immediately asked me if it was true. I swore that it was. We talked about their summaries and thesis statements, but they wanted to talk about what it meant, or could mean, so we created this list.

It is a sign that I am doing something right.

It is a sign I am lucky and should go to Las Vegas and gamble all
my savings.

It is a message that I should take something from the movie learn from it.

It is nothing, and the shoe has been laying there for weeks, but I only noticed it because I had just watched a film about horses.

It is fate. Destiny.

It is a coincidence.

It is a conspiracy, someone put that there because they knew I was going to watch that film.

It is something very important.

It is nothing.

We discussed the possible meanings. A student added, "It is God." Which I wrote on the board, but would not allow the students to use in the argument exercise (yes, sometimes my ideology does seep into the classroom in interesting ways). The most intriguing side effect of this conversation was that as my classroom became a battle over the theory of fate and nothingness, the students began to invest themselves in the documentary. Students began to believe that the movie and the shoe and this conversation was important. They tuned in, there was that "click" that teachers wait for, and they connected.

For me, I need it to mean something. If not just because I want to feel lucky, or a part of some larger universe, but because if this were a novel it would mean everything. What do you think?



  1. Hmm, a physical reminder to live kindness. And,stories find you because they know you will tell them well.

  2. I agree, stories do find you. I love that they asked you if it was true, because a lot of the things that happen to you are kind of perfect like that.

    For me, I tend to treat certain things, events as well as objects, as talismans, and if it had happened to me, I'd probably just take it to mean that using the film was correct. But it happened to you, so to say what it means, I'd need to know what it means to you.