Spring SAVY 2015, Week 1 – Don’t Turn Out the Lights (5th/6th Grade)
What is horror? This is what we’re trying to dissect in “Don’t Turn Out the Lights.”
Many of the students are already familiar with the genres of horror—they’ve played scary video games, read spooky comic books, and they are definitely seasoned moviegoers.
Stephen King, in his essay “Why We Crave Horror Movies,” suggests that we enjoy horror films because we like “daring the nightmare.” In other words, people want to face their fears and access their darkest dreams on their own terms. After reading this essay, we discussed how unless you’ve mastered lucid dreaming, you can’t help what you’re dreaming, and as one student put it, nightmares are “just plain wrong.”
Maybe nightmares are why we like horror, or maybe it’s a sort of vicarious wish fulfillment. Almost everyone could agree that there was a sick burn they wanted to lay on Mom or Dad (sorry folks) or a time when they wanted to fight their brother or sister, but no one wants to actually do these things because of their negative consequences.
Fantasy novels are fun because you can pretend to be the hero, while horror stories can be fun because you can watch from the sidelines. This class is focusing on stories and why we tell them and read them. We read Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” and the class seemed to unanimously enjoy it, especially the narrator’s description of how he hid the body of the old man under the floorboards. We also watched Annette Jung’s cartoon version of the story and talked about whether the original story or the short film was scarier. The students decided the story was scarier for the most part.
These are bright learners—they already know the power of reading—and this will be a fun class. Next weekend we’ll discuss Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.”