“The road goes ever on and on, out from the door where it began. Now far ahead the road has gone. Let others follow, if they can! Let then a journey new begin. But I at last with weary feet will turn towards the lighted inn. My evening-rest and sleep to meet.”
Today marked the end of the fantastic literary journey my 13 ESL students and I made together. It was a day of joy and sadness as we went our separate ways for the summer. Since our Teaching Tolkien readers have been there every step of the way, we wanted you to experience some of the fun we enjoyed today. Even though our picnic plan did not come to fruition, there was certainly no shortage of food. To show their support for our project, many of my students’ mothers stayed up until two or three o’clock in the morning to prepare their special dishes for our “wrap party” today and other mothers were up at dawn cooking up a storm.
With so many different countries represented in my classroom, our feast provided many unique samplings. We ate two different types of Chicken Biryani (both Iraqi and Pakistani styles), a Somali pasta dish, Korean Bulgogi, Indian Butter Chicken, Samosas, Afghani chickpeas, and my American contribution, which my students requested, ice cream.
The Hobbits may have had little to feast upon on their journey besides lembas bread, but my students have had plenty to dine on along the way. One of our running jokes was the frequent reappearance of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, an American snack food. Every time someone brought food to share, there were always Cheetos, and we all knew you couldn’t have a party without them.
My dwarves all exhibited excellent table manners which, as we all know, is rather uncharacteristic behavior for dwarves.
The sixth-grade members of our Traveling Party were full of senior pranks as they enjoyed their last day of ruling the school before becoming low men on the totem pole in middle school. Being dwarves, they’re already used to jokes about their stature!
Our party not only centered on food, but also featured music and movies. My students enjoyed watching Return of the King so much, they asked if they could watch Aragorn’s coronation once again and a few bonus features off the appendices discs.
As I had promised, I did give my students a musical performance. In addition to being an English teacher, I also teach music and my students often request that I perform for them. After seeing The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, they couldn’t seem to get that song about the Misty Mountains out of their heads. Excited that I could play some of Howard Shore’s music from the films on the piano, I would often entertain them with a tune or two.
At their request, I have included my final performance of “that Misty Mountain song”, which is really called The Song of the Lonely Mountain, for your enjoyment, too.
To commemorate the completion of our project, Balin made a collage, which she created using an app, that features some of our favorite moments along the journey.
Before we parted ways after our fun and final afternoon together, we posed for a group picture, snapped by a special guest at the party (our school social worker), who was delighted to join us for our celebration.
In Bilbo’s “old walking song” The Road Goes Ever On, he mentions letting a new journey begin. Even though my band of dwarves has finished their journey, I know this is just the beginning for many of them as they have finally discovered the fun that can be had when reading a book. I hope they will enjoy many other books and learn to appreciate other great writers like J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien has permanently earned a spot on my teacher’s bookshelf and I look forward to improving my methods for sharing his works and introducing him to other students that should happen to find themselves in my classroom someday. It has truly been an honor to teach Tolkien this year and I look forward to taking some time over the summer to reflect upon what my students and I gained from our travels through Middle-Earth. Look for some appendix posts over the next few months to summarize my thoughts and keep the dialogue going. The journey is not over; it is just beginning and I hope our dedicated readers will continue to support and promote the value of Teaching Tolkien in the classroom.