I think Thing2, a.k.a SuperDude has been training me to be a teacher for his entire life.
I had mapped out my curriculum for my high school English classes for the winter. I’d planned short stories in January, before launching into a literary survey of Black History Month in February, essays in March, and National Poetry Month in April.
It was a bulletproof roadmap. It just wasn’t teenager proof.
Short story is a great way to introduce and review literary devices, as long as you have a killer short story to use for your example. Knowing my students’ love of gothic and horror themes, I started with the Grimm brothers’ version of Snow White. It’s a story almost everyone has read or heard, so I figured we could use our common knowledge of the plot to review things like theme and character.
And first teenage head came to rest on a pair of hands folded on the table on the far end of the room. Twenty minutes to go, and I was losing the crowd just as we were talking about protagonists. As I hobbled over to the table to give my potential sleeper a reference sheet, however, I noticed a Captain America badge on her backpack.
Thing1, but especially Thing2 has dragged me to and cajoled me to sit hrough dozens of viewings in theaters, on Netflix, and on DVD, of every Avengers movie made in the last eight or nine years. I will admit that more than a few of those viewings have been spent snoring or scrolling, but more than a little Avengers’ trivia has flitered into my consciousness.
In mid-hobble, I suddenly asked how many of my students had seen Avengers Infinity War. All hands went up. Had they seen the entire series? Again all hands went up. I stopped at the far table, and my student was now sitting up straight.
“Who would you say is the protagonist in Infinity War?” I asked. A few brows furrowed, and then answers started resounding.
“No, Chris Evans! He was sooo cute!”
“Who is the character with a goal who drives the plot?” I asked.
“Thanos!” The answer was a chorus, and we began talking about plot and story arcs. We were discussing series’ themes by the time the class transition was announced, and I had to usher kids out of the room toward the next class.
As the backpack with the Captain America badge disappeared through the door, I mulled over SuperDude’s role in the success of the morning. Protagonist or antagonist, he had saved the day.