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SECOND GROUP: BJ Namba, Tim O'Keefe, Barry Hoonan, Jonathan Holden|
This is a full transcript of a conversation that was excerpted in the videos for Workshop 1: Foundations. In it, four of the teachers featured in the workshop "talk" out their ideas as they encounter this text for the first time.
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BJ: Chapter one. Down the rabbit hole. Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, 'and what is the use of a book,' thought Alice 'without pictures or conversation?'
So she was considering in her own mind (as well as she could, for the hot day made her feel very sleepy and stupid), whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her.
There was nothing so very remarkable in that; nor did Alice think it so very much out of the way to hear the Rabbit say to itself, 'Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late!' (when she thought it over afterwards, it occurred to her that she ought to have wondered at this, but at the time it all seemed quite natural)
Barry: I think of "Oh dear! Oh, dear! I shall be late!" is my wife who waits until the last minute before an airplane ride. Oh, late. Oh, late.
Tim: This makes me think of the beginning of "Charlotte's Web" when E.B. White, it all starts out so non-fiction like. You know, it's all very real. And then how gradually it turns into this reality where animals can talk to each other. And actually, one of the humans can understand them.
So the act, the very conscious act of the author of sucking us into that reality kind of slowly, you know. And I can see some of my students thinking, "What is the use of a book without pictures?" I can see Alice peeking over me .. oh, it's so boring.
Jonathan: And then all of a sudden, it feels very natural with boom. It's a fantasy. There's the rabbit talking to himself. And I buy it. I buy it. That's great. I'm getting pulled right in.
BJ: But when the Rabbit actually took a watch out of its waistcoat-pocket, and looked at it, and then hurried on, Alice started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat-pocket or a watch to take out of it, and burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after it, and fortunately was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge. In another moment, down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.
Tim: Very adventurous.
BJ: Sometimes I've done stuff like that too. How am I going to get out?
Jonathan: Never go into the hole. She made a mistake.
BJ: The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down a very deep well. Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her and to wonder what was going to happen next. First, she tried to look down and make out what was she was coming to, but it was too dark to see anything; then she looked at the sides of the well and noticed that they were filled with cupboards and bookshelves; here and there, she saw maps and pictures hung up on pegs. She took down a jar from one of the shelves as she passed . . .
Barry: Just a second. So, what I'm actually thinking about is . . . it's about how we plunge into literature. This is sort of a metaphor for instruction. And when she looks around, all she sees are these cupboards and bookshelves. And she knows, so to speak, that this is all going to come together.
Jonathan: I was thinking ... I get this picture of her going down the well. But why are there these cupboards and bookshelves on the side? Does it mean the rabbit's just grabbing things? That's his hallway or his kitchen? I sit here. And if I take it too literally, I think, "Wait a minute. This is confusing."
Tim: This is a confusing book. I remember reading it as a child and looking at it again after so many years thinking what the ... I'm not sure I really liked it then. I like it better now.
BJ: It was labeled "ORANGE MARMALADE," But to her great disappointment, it was empty; she did not like to drop the jar for fear of killing somebody, so managed to put it into one of the cupboards as she fell past it.
'Well!' thought Alice to herself, 'after such a fall as this, I shall think nothing of tumbling down stairs! How brave they'll all think me at home! Why, I wouldn't say anything about it, even if I fell off the top of the house!' (Which was very likely true.)
Down, down, down. Would the fall never come to an end! 'I wonder how many miles I've fallen by this time?' she said aloud. 'I must be getting somewhere near the centre of the earth. Let me see: that would be four thousand miles down, I think--'
Barry: So, hang on. So that's one of those weird questions. Have you ever thought about where if you drilled a hole through the middle of the earth and you jumped? What would happen? Would you stop in the middle? Would you keep going and then go back down? I used to think about that.
BJ: What's so funny to me is ... Alice seems just so calm and logical as she's falling down this well. I mean, you know, she's thinking about how many miles it is.
Jonathan: I had a question. Where it says "I wouldn't say anything about it, even if I fell off the top of the house which was very likely true." I kept going why would she say that? I was trying to get the meaning of it. Would she say something ... she wouldn't say anything because she'd get in trouble? Or she wouldn't say anything because she's brave now?
Tim: Because now that she's taken this terrific fall, that would seem like nothing.
Jonathan: And they'll think she's brave because she didn't cry? Or because she didn't tell anyone?
Tim: She's not a whiner.
Tim: So this book reminds me so much of one of the Wizard of Oz books. I'm not sure which one it is. It's maybe the third or fourth one. But Dorothy and her friends, there's an earthquake or something. And she falls ... she plummets into the earth. And she takes it all just so naturally. Quite like this. And there were several books that I've seen written around the turn of the century, the early 1900s, where the main characters are these feisty little kids, a lot of them girls. And they end up going into the earth for some reason. I've read three or four of them.
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