I chose to combine this post on Weeks 11 and 12, since they were both on the same series, and we played several of the same games over these two weeks.
We read four short stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. “A Scandal in Bohemia,” “The Boscombe Valley Mystery,” “The Speckle Band,” and “The Red-Headed League”. (I think one of the favorites was “The Boscombe Valley Mystery!).
About Arthur Conan Doyle:
Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Scotland in 1859. Conan Doyle’s father was an alcoholic. It was Conan Doyle’s mother who he cites as the inspiration for his writings. She often told him stories at night, until he says he is not sure what portions of his childhood is real, and what is a story! At the age of 9, Conan Doyle was sent to a boarding school in England. Here he was bullied by children and teachers alike. After graduation he went to medical school. One of his professors, Dr. Joseph Bell, especially interested Arthur Conan Doyle. He now says that Bell was the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes. After releasing many Sherlock Holmes stories, Conan Doyle killed off his main character. After public outrage, Doyle brought the famed detective back to life.
We watched the “Jeremy Brett” interpretation of “The Boscombe Valley Mystery”.
Lie to Me: This game is popular game show in the UK. We chose a team of four students, and they came up with a fact that was true about only one of the team members. (For example, one was hit by a car). Yet all four of them told the same fact, creating a story about how that “fact” happened. The other students could quiz the team, and had to decide who was telling the truth, and who was lying. 3 out of the 4 times we played, we guessed wrong!
Crack the Case: This is a game where students are given several “facts” about a crime. By quizzing the “narrator” they must solve the crime, and often even figure out the story behind the crime!
Writing Exercise: Sherlock Holmes is famous for his deductions about people. In several of his stories he is able to understand a person based on tan lines, breadcrumbs, haircuts, etc. Try writing one of these scenes!
1) In many mysteries you are able to “jump ahead” of the detective. Were you able to see where Sherlock was going with his ideas, or were you usually with Watson, who had to wait until the end for the big reveal?
2) Why do you think Arthur Conan Doyle wrote from the point of view of Watson?
3) How do these mysteries compare with other mystery stories you have read?
4) Why do you think these stories continue to be read today?
We spent some time discussing body language. Body language experts suggest recognizing a person’s “Baseline” (Do they talk with their hands? Do they speak formally? How high is their voice? How fast do they speak? Do they nod when others are speaking? etc). When a person deviates from this baseline they could be lying, nervous, etc. This was helpful when we played “Lie to Me”.
For example, when a person is standing, where are their hands? If they are clasped in front of the person, the person is usually fairly comfortable. What if the person is grasping their wrist? They are likely uneasy or uncomfortable. The farther the person moves up their arm, the more uncomfortable they are. If a person clasps their hands behind their back, they are completely open and exposed. This is a sign of trust and calm. There are many videos and books on body language, and it’s an interesting read! I would encourage everyone to look up a basic video on body language.
Below are some videos we watched in class: