Teaching Students About Walter Mitty
Walter Mitty, the daydreaming protagonist of James Thurber’s classic short story “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” offers us a wealth of opportunities for teaching and engaging students in various subjects. This article will guide you through the process of teaching students about Walter Mitty, integrating the power of imagination, and integrating lessons about this character into broader discussions on literature, psychology, and personal development.
Background and Context
Begin your lesson by providing some context and background on James Thurber’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” Introduce students to the author, his writing style, and how this short story fits within the tradition of American literature. Discuss when it was published (1939), the publication in which it appeared (The New Yorker), and its overall themes.
The Daydreams as Teaching Tools
Walter Mitty’s vivid daydreams serve as a rich source for discussion and analysis among your students. Delve into each dream sequence in detail and ask your students to explore the following questions:
1. What triggers each of Walter Mitty’s daydreams?
2. How do his daydreams reflect his inner desires or personal struggles?
3. Why do you think he chooses these specific fantasies to escape to?
Encourage reflection and introspection among your students by asking them whether they can relate to some aspects of Walter Mitty’s dreams or if they have their secret fantasies that help them escape daily monotony.
There are several central themes that can be explored when teaching students about Walter Mitty:
1. Imagination and Reality: Define the difference between imagination and reality for your students, comparing how each plays a role in their lives.
2. Individuality and Escapism: Discuss how individuals use their unique imaginations to cope with challenges or day-to-day difficulties.
3. Power Dynamics within Relationships: Analyze the dynamics between Walter Mitty and his wife, Mrs. Mitty. This can be extended into broader discussions about domestic relationships and expectations within society.
Activities and Interactive Exercises
As a way of engaging student creativity, consider incorporating various activities that promote discussion and reflection on the story of Walter Mitty and its themes. Some suggestions include:
1. Creative Writing: Instruct students to write short narratives or poems inspired by their own secret daydreams or imaginary lives.
2. Role-Play: Have students act out scenes from the story in small groups or as a class activity, allowing them to express different character traits or analyze certain events.
3. Visual Arts: Ask students to create visual art pieces (drawings, collages, or paintings) inspired by the story or a specific scene, exploring their creative interpretations of the characters and themes.
Teaching about Walter Mitty promotes understanding of complex human emotions, relationships, and the power of imagination. By incorporating active discussions and interactive student-led activities in your lesson plan, you can foster deeper connections with the material and inspire your students to embrace their own unique visions in both literature and daily life situations.