Before I finished up in my classroom for Christmas break, I began work on my syllabus for next semester. When I saw where I was in my yearly plan for my sophomores, I smiled just thinking that I would be teaching my favorite teaching unit on the first day back. In all my years in the classroom, one unit stands out above the others as my favorite teaching unit: the secret door narrative.
Secret doors have fascinated readers for years. Is it because they desire to leave their ordinary lives (if only for just a while) and enter a land of fantasy? Or are they dreamers who desire for a bit of fantasy to enter their own real worlds? Think about the movies and TV shows you have seen with secret doors–The Chronicles of Narnia, National Treasure, Clue, and Monsters, Inc. What would Batman or Scooby-Doo be without secret doors? Whatever the reason, “secret door” stories continue to captivate audiences.
A Most Entertaining TED Talk
Mac Barnett’s TED talk reveals the tension between reality and fantasy. The “in between,” he says, is fiction. If you’ve never seen Barnett’s talk, take some time to listen but do it in a place where you can laugh out loud. If you have already seen it, you surely won’t mind seeing it again.
Barnett reveals art as a doorway to wonder in a Venn diagram, which has always struck me as humorous in this otherwise whimsical talk.
Why the obsession with secret doors and, by extension, alternate universes (Think: The Matrix)? They make us wonder, is there more to life than just what I see? Maybe this is why the secret door narrative is my favorite teaching unit. By extension as a lifelong reader, I have often been immersed in wonder, the wonder of worlds outside our own.
Could something greater be at play?
The greatest story ever told is a secret door story.
The greatest story ever told involves a secret door. Though some might argue its genre, but this secret door narrative is actually a non-fiction story that uses devices of fiction. The story is a metaphor that includes elements of personification, imagery, and foreshadowing. The passageway from reality to the new world is at the same time known–foretold for millennia–and hidden from many of the most intelligent minds on the planet.
This story merges all seven of Christopher Booker’s seven basic story plots:
- Overcoming the monster
- Rags to riches
- The quest
- Voyage and return
- Comedy (happy ending)
The best word to describe this greatest story ever told, this secret door narrative, is redemption. To understand the structure of the secret door story is to understand how Jesus came from His place in Heaven, entered the world as a baby, lived a sinless life in order to qualify as a perfect sacrifice to a holy God, died a death as the perfect Lamb, and rose again to overcome death, hell, and the grave. He became the secret door that man needed to find his way back to God.
I will enjoy my Christmas break and look forward to my favorite teaching unit when I return–for the same reason.