Tips for Teachers
Weíve had several requests from teachers looking for materials and
have put this list together from their questions. We have tried to
choose the content carefully, with as little violence as possible,
and covering issues appropriate for discussion in classes.
Rock Rancher - (From the short story collection "End
of the Drive.") A rebellious teen-ager, Ed Tucker, and his
father are nearly home from a trail drive. In the saddlebags of his
fatherís horse is the first real money that the down-at-heel pair
have made in years, most of the money, however, belongs to their neighbors.
Ed and his father fight about his plans for the future and the rough
characters that young Ed is hanging out with. Angry, Ed rides off
believing that his father is a broken down old man who barely owns
the clothes on his back and not much of an example to be giving a
lot of advice. When Ed comes back he finds his father has been bucked
off his horse and has a broken leg. The horse with the saddle bags
and money is missing. Ed and his father track it down and discover
that it has been taken by the very group of young toughs that Ed has
recently made his friends. In the final resolution Ed learns a lesson
about character, courage, and determination that will change his life.
The story is 15pgs. and contains lessons about judging substance rather
than surface; looking more closely at the lives of oneís parents,
no matter how unheroic they may seem; and about facing advercity rather
than hiding from it.
Daybreakers - Brothers Orrin and Tyrel Sackett travel west to
make a new life for themselves and to escape the feuding and poverty
of the Tennessee hill country. They join a trail drive to Kansas,
start their own business in Northern New Mexico, and are eventually
involved in politics. The novel is a good look at western conditions
in the 1867 - 1875 time period. It is a fast read covering a lot of
ground in very few pages so it is good for advanced and remedial readers
alike. There are many issues for discussion: Tom Sunday, a character
who makes a gradual shift from good guy to bad guy because of a minor
incident over some money and his continued obcessing over it. The
unclear transition of New Mexico from Mexican law to that of the U.S.
and the carpetbagger types who chose to exploit the confusion. How
one confronts a lack of education and what to do about it. The
Daybreakers is a terriffic example of the classic western epic
but with a number of atypical elements.
of the Dry Country - (From the short story collection "The
Strong Shall Live.") View the lives of different groups of
people as they are faced with surviving an environmental disaster.
In Mirror Valley the grass no longer grows, the springs are dry, and
the cattle are dying. Some think it is a drought, others realise that
the problem is overgrazing. As tensions rise old alliences change
and the fear in the ranchers hearts explodes into fury, fury aimed
at a young Mexican rancher who may just be the only man who can save
them. We can offer you the original short story but the particularly
exciting materials that we have available come in the form of a fifty
minute radio play. We have both our recording
and scripts that the students can read from to perform their own version.
We have had classes in English language and American culture in France
use these materials very effectively, first reading the script as
a class, discussing it, and then listening to the tape. The story
explores issues of racism and itís connection to the dark side of
manifest destiny, environmentalism and hypocracy. This is sophisticated
material and is, perhaps, more appropriate for students in 11th or
the Great Snow Mountains - (From the short story collection "Beyond
the Great Snow Mountains.") A plane, escaping from the Chinise
civil wars of the 1930s crashes in a remote area. Anna Doone, the
daughter of a medical missionary must survive amoung the Ngolok tribesmen.
Years pass, she has a child by a man who becomes king of the Ngolok,
he dies and their son will soon have to lead his people in a desparate
attempt to deal with tribal factionalism and the challange of another
Chinese Revolution. Just at this moment another plane appears and
Anna must decide the fate of herself, her son, and the people who
have adopted them. This short story confronts issues of survival,
loyalty, and conflicting cultures. Does Anna try to escape with her
teen age son, leaving the tribe in the hands of a much poorer leader?
Is it right to take him to a place he knows nothing about? Does she
go alone and chance never seeing him again. Or does she give up the
rest or her life to the battle for survival against the harsh conditions
in the icy mountains and the Red Army soldiers who are appearing in
greater and greater numbers?
- A lonely widow tries to survive with her childeren on the plains
of New Mexico. A lonely cowboy faces growing older, lack of work,
and how to make a last stand for the things in which he believes.
Conagher is an example of LíAmourís
writing at itís best. These are simple lives made facinating by his
taking no moment for granted. The woman ties notes to tumbleweeds
in a vane attempt to cope with her isolation. When asked who gave
him the black eye a stage employee grumbles, ďNobody gave it to me.
I fought for it.Ē There is no emphesis put on gunfighters, lawmen,
or the other machinations of western adventures. Just hard scrabble
realism. The book deals with womenís roles, building of stage lines,
and the lack of a future for a working man if he doesnít find a way
to better himself.
you have questions, ideas or responces to the materials above, please
E-mail us and include
your phone number and other contact information so that we can route
your request to the right person for a quick response.