Sunday, September 6, 2009
Irony, Take two - Post #45
Excuse my neglect; I spent most of my days at school last week. Let's not talk about the day I didn't get home until 7pm. Let's talk about irony, instead.
The first day we discuss irony, I like to explain to the kids that first and foremost, they have probably heard the term irony frequently applied incorrectly. Evidence #1: "Ironic" by Alanis Morisette. But I won't bother breaking that down; Matt Sturges has already done that. Still, we mention it. I also mention a real-life example of a friend remarking how "ironic" it was that Usain Bolt's last name was...well, Bolt. "Do we expect Mr. Fisher here [pointing out a student in class] to actually be a fisherman?" They laughed at this and agreed that no, that wouldn't be ironic, either. Basically, our society has started to use irony as a synonym for "coincidence" or even "hypocrisy." So, I remind them, there has to be some kind of established expectation for irony, and that we have to consider, "What is this author saying by going against our expectation?"
Materials: Good Morning, Vietnam (cued), Monty Python & the Search for the Holy Grail (cued), PPT irony review
This lesson's foundational activity is taken from Reading in the Dark: Using Film As a Tool in the English Classroom by John Golden. If you don't have it, I highly recommend getting a copy. Many states now have a media/non-text analysis standard in their curriculum, and this gives you excellent ways to teach film and use portions of it effectively (NOT just throw in a DVD of a book you just read).
1. I procure a 5(ish) minute clip from Good Morning, Vietnam. Using the questions from the powerpoint, I instigate a class discussion/analysis of the clip with sound and without.
2. This class question-and-discovery takes most of the class period. After the Vietnam clip, I give several examples of irony to
A. refresh their memories on the different types of irony; and
B. give them examples to help them answer the questions "How does X irony help the story? Why would an author use it?"
This allows us to talk about the different kinds of irony at more than just the "identify" level. I want them to consider Why verbal irony versus situational versus dramatic?
Good Morning, Vietnam is rated R but the clip shown is very brief and has no elements above PG (maybe PG-13), so you can probably get that one little clip approved. Have fun!
source: Reading in the Dark by John Golden