Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Story Discussion: The Dog and the Manger

Discussion notes from The Dog and the Manger, Aesop from Classical Writing.

Please pardon the abruptness of these notes. I simply hope to record and convey the nature of our discussion. I did not time us or pay attention to the clock. This probably took us about 20-25 minutes.

read it to himself first
then we took turns reading through it out loud, I started, he finished.
discussed what the Ox meant at the end of the story
he didn't know what grudge meant nor did he understand initially what the Dog could not enjoy (the straw as food)
As we talked, it occurred to me that the Ox has horns and didn't use them, so that added a dimension to our discussion, more later.
I introduced term Protagonist,(P.), decided to use white board to help him (best idea ever)
Discussed who P. was, he named Ox.
asked what the P. (Ox )was trying to do, answer: eat straw
Introduced Antagonist(A.) as character who opposes P.
he identified Dog as A.
Had him write Ox and Dog on the white board according to which side they were on
Discussed Andrew Kern's idea that the P. usually shows virtue(ie goodness) found here
Was Ox good (virtuous)?  Yes, he didn't kill or hurt Dog with his horns even though he rightfully could have defended his Manger.
Asked if either Ox or Dog could be considered a coward.
Initially he said, Ox was a coward for not using his horns, but I reminded him that he previously said he was showing virtue or goodness by not resorting to hurting or killing Dog with his horns.
Changed his mind and said Dog was coward for trying to take something that didn't belong to him and attempting to bite the Ox for getting too close.
good discussion there on different types of cowardice

Went through rest of my prepared questions about the P. and A. picked from Socratic Questions.
- Why does he(the A.) oppose the P.?
- Does the P. get what he's after?
- Is the situation(problem) pleasantly resolved?
- What does the P. learn?

Concluded that although the Ox does not get what he was after, (the straw for food) he remains good(his virtue and reputation) by not attacking the Dog in return.

Finished by briefly discussing who the Protagonist(s) and Antagonist is in one of our read alouds, Mr.Pipes Comes to America(third in the series). We were in agreement, although I pointed out that that story has more than one P.

Yes, I still handwrite stuff .

Writing project for the week: Make up a quote for one of the characters and use it in your narrative.

Resources used:
Classical Writing: Aesop We have gone through most of the reading selections in this book and completed writing projects on most of them, but he could use more practice, so I will continue to use this book and plan to start the Homer level later in the year.
Teaching the Classics This has a list of Socratic Questions covering all aspects of the story elements. It also has Story Chart forms to guide a discussion through the five elements of fiction (exposition, rising action, climax, denonement and conclusion)
I have also read Deconstructing Penguins several years ago, followed Heidi's blog and Book Detective posts for years, listened to her recent interview on Read Aloud Revival's podcast and also listened to various selections from Andrew Kern, specifically his Teaching Literature Without Killing the Book or the Student from 2012 which I highly recommend. (Scroll down to find the 2012 selections and his is at the very top of the 2012 list.)

My personal takeaway:  Education is most certainly not neutral. It involves making moral judgments about almost everything one encounters.


  1. Ordered deconstructing penguins from the library.... realized I did not really know what a protagonist was... googled protagonist.... antagonist....

    whew - you spur me on to greater things.

  2. I loved reading this--so interesting! I'm putting Deconstruction Penguins on hold.

    I TRY to listen to RAR, but I just can't seem to find the time! I really want to though! Does that count for anything??


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