“Hey, that is like Star Wars!” yelled Mo. Her face lit up brighter than the stars when the Millenium Falcon jumped into hyperspace.
“Wow, correct you are”, I said in my best Yoda voice. Why? First of all, I am a Star Wars geek. Second Mo and several other students saw a connection between an Irish legend and story from a galaxy far, far away. We English teachers live for these “Aha!” moments.
See, one of the legends I have students read is about Fionn Mac Cumhaill, leader of the Fianna, a band of Irish warriors. In the story, Fionn studies with Finegas, a Druid and the King’s Poet. When Finegas finally catches the Salmon of Knowledge, Fionn cooks it for him. However, one scale of the fish lands on Fionn’s finger causing him to put it in his mouth to relieve the pain of the burn. Thus, Fionn gains all of the knowledge in the Salmon and Finegas realizes this fulfills an ancient prophesy.
So, what exactly caused this “Aha!” moment? I had shared that Fionn is similar to King Arthur and Finegas is similar to Merlin. Apparently, this comparison ignited Mo’s mind like an exploding Death Star. She mentioned that it is like Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kanobi. Other students began to chime in with comparisons.
“There are swords and light sabers!” shouted that normally quiet kid who always wears camouflage.
“And the Fianna are like the Knights of the Round Table and the Jedi,” added Brandon.
‘Wait!” exclaimed Shania, “the stories are like Harry Potter, too! Harry has a mentor, Dumbledore and he has a wand, which is like a sword.”
“And Finn Mac Cumhaill, Star Wars, King Arthur, and Harry Potter all have the letter A in them!” shared Andy. Why do all of my classes have one kid like this? I refrain from answering, “Take a good look at the letter now because you will never see it on a report card.”
Nonetheless, the discussion continues for a few more minutes about epics, heroes, and what we learn from legends. The bell rings and the kids move on to their own stories where they are the heroes and advisors. Except for Andy. He asks me, “What is the average velocity of an unladen swallow?”
“African or European?” I respond matter-of-factly.
“I don’t know,” Andy replies, then he screams, “Arrrg!” and rushes out the door.
Just another normal day in the freshman experience.