Hands down, my students’ favorite class is when they write and perform skits. We read The King and His Hawk to get a feel for the form. The lesson of this great fable: Don’t do anything in anger. The King and His Hawk is especially appropriate for the battle-weary parent, as she has multiple hawks of varying sizes flitting around, bashing her in the head and generally ticking her off. Then they turn into teens. I could write a fable called The Queen and her Bull. It would involve the queen getting systematically gored and then losing her—I digress. And if you don’t know the fable, what I just wrote will mean nothing to you. Read it. You won’t be sorry.
My students thought I wrote The King and His Hawk. Darn. For a minute they were impressed.
After some discussion, I asked for a list of fable topics. You’d think it a safe question. But no.
To my request for topics, the first response I got was Don’t pee your pants. Then I got Eat the food on your plate. Lie to strangers. Fight strangers. I was in danger of losing control of the class, so I said, “If you’re a boy (I didn’t mean to break the rules on sensitivity), put glue between your lips and shut them, please.”
I asked if the girls had any topics. Don’t lie. Obey your parents. Now we’re talking. Once we had seven decent morals that did not involve bodily functions, I sent them off into groups to collaborate. Doesn’t that sound official? It’s really them, laughing and having a great time. And writing a skit. They only get one class period to do it, so they can’t mess around. I also threatened them with grammar if they went off the rails. I went military on them. If any group was bad, all would do grammar. They were angels.
After one skit where a grandfather dies of a heart attack while the kids await Starbucks from the 911 operator, I asked the rest of the class what the lesson was. Don’t kill old people.
Their take-home assignment was to write a fable based on their skits. And to think: I get paid to have this much fun.