Dividing Dog and Wolf

I have a propensity towards ambiguity. Perhaps that's why my son became a math major at the University of Rochester.

Once, I asked my son why, with an English teacher for a Dad, would he pursue a degree in math. His four word reply startled me.

'I'm interested in answers'

Perhaps this explains part of our subsequent enstrangement.

Definitive answers can be a bit scarce in a discipline like English Language Arts which defines bad guys as antagonists rather than scumbags. Pissing contests as well as wars come under the umbrella of 'conflict'. ELA is a discipline that is more artistic than scientific. A discipline that strives to see both sides of every coin.

Still occasionally a clear answer will emeerge.

A few years ago the eternal, unanswerable question 'which is better a book or a movie' arose in my classroom.

I faked a definitive answer with the flippant observation that 'a movie is always better than a book because you can't spill your beer on a movie' har dee har har etc.

Next, in the usual switchback, I propped books as being better by challenging the kids 'to name one movie that was actually better than the book' from whence the movie came.

One of the kids suggested 'Stand by Me' the cinematic interpretation of the short story ' The Body' by Steve King.

I had to admit that the movie was better than the book, if you can call a short story (even a long short story) a 'book'

This led to a discussion of an essential question raised in the film: 'Is Goofy a dog or a wolf or what the hell is Goofy?'

The essential argument against Goofy's dogness is that Goofy himself has a dog named Pluto so how could one dog have another dog for a pet. Dogs don't have pets and if they did they wouldn't be dogs.

The essential argument against Goofy's wolfness is since dogs evolved from wolves, wolves could not be masters of dogs unless we wanted to believe that humanity was headed for a planet of the apes kinda deal where chimps kept humans as slaves and pets.

Naturally this discussion led to slavery, state's rights, Abraham Lincoln, Muhammad Ali, the national anthem, Charles Darwin, the Scopes Monkey Trial, Inherit the Wind, Austalopthecus versus homo habilis man, Charlton Heston, creationism, Thomas Edison, evolution and the reason why God created movies.

Near the conclusion of the class, wolf and dog were evenly divided.

As an English teacher, I was comfortable with this two headed coin. The discussion was as valuable as a resolution to the discussion. Journey is as valuable as destination. Process is as important as progress.

A question that can not be answered is better than an answer that can't be questioned.

This is where Brian comes into the story.

Stay tuned.

© 2017 Thornton Krell - 4/20/17


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