This summer we’ve had the opportunity to explore the Snow White tale from two very different perspectives. However one thing held true for both of them. No longer are our girls to be subjected to the Disneyfication of the female lead. In both of the new versions of Snow White (Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman) the princess becomes a strong female capable of taking care of her own needs.
But how can these films be used in the classroom once they are released on DVD and Blue Ray? As we move toward the common core the expectation is that our students be critical thinkers. The first step toward this is the classic compare and contrast exercises. For younger children the simple venn diagram is a good place to start. What do these films have in common? How are they different? However this on scratches the surface of using film as a tool to foster higher order thinking skills and if you are still relying on compare and contrast opportunities into high school you are completely missing the boat.
Let’s look at Snow White and the Huntsman. As a drama its pretty deep and the imagery will leave your class debating messaging for quite some time if you prepare them for the discussions in the right way. In our household (mom, dad, a middle schooler and a high school senior) the focus has mostly been on whether this story is showing a giving up of contemporary christian values to accept an older, more natural way of being or if it is in fact the old ways bowing down to the new. I’m the one hold out for the old ways bowing to the new religion but that’s not the point. The point is that as long as each side can present a valid argument in support of their case its a conversation worth exploring. This is the foundation for higher order thinking.
Do your students have enough background information to understand the scene with the multipoint buck as an allusion to Hearn and the old ways? Do your students know enough about Christian literature to understand that Snow White, in this tale, (at least on the surface) betrayed by someone she trusted and is dead for three days? Or perhaps they see something totally different in the story. Perhaps they see allusions to La Llorona with her beauty and her dark hair lamenting her lost youth? Yes it is a dramatically different tale but if your students find correlation that they can substantiate they are demonstrating higher order thinking.
Challenge them to think outside the box and make connections to the classic tales of myth, religion and childhood. What might they come up with?