An Idea for Schools

After completing the first six films Toni Rudersdorf of Houston Texas took Willoughby Drive (aka Simple Stories) to interest the American schools. At the end of each episode she devised questions relevant to the film and also to everyday life. For example, at the end of The Conman: Should Mrs Barraclough have invited the stranger into her house?
Her aim was to get children talking about everyday problems.

Questions for The Centaur
1.When someone has a handicap, behaves differently or is of a different race, some people will behave as if he were a centaur.  When you meet someone who is different from you, are you more like
  • The Barracloughs?
  • Mrs Gumble Bump?
  • 2.What can we do to help people who appear to be different from us become part of our community?

    Questions for The Conman
    1. If a stranger asked you for food or money, what would you do?
    2. Should Mrs Barraclough have invited the stranger into her house to give him food?
    3. Should Mr Barraclough have tried to stop the stranger from running away when Mrs Gumble Bump called the police?
    4. If you see a stranger hanging around an empty house in your neighbourhood, what should you do?

    Questions for the New Neighbours
    1. When Tommy tested the device for looking through walls, should he have looked into Mr Wotherspoon’s garden.
    2. When Mr Barraclough and Tommy discovered Mr Watherspoon was doing odd things in his garden, why did they think he was a criminal?
    3. Having decided Mr Wotherspoon was hiding stolen goods in his garden, what should Mr Barraclough and Tommy have done?
    4. By breaking into Mr Wotherspoon’s garden and disrupting his experiments, Mr Barraclough and Tommy broke several laws themselves. If you were Mr Wotherspoon, what would you have done?

    Questions for Wobblejuice
    1. When preparing for his trip did Mr Barraclough see there would be enough food and good transport?
    2. If Wobblejuice had not been magically able to become any animal, would the travellers have survived the journey?
    3. What plans would you make for a journey such as this one if you did not have a magic travelling companion?

    Questions for the Baby Snatcher
    1. The neighbourhood of Willoughby Drive appeared to have a problem with crime. What could the neighbours do to help each other and make it harder for thieves to succeed?
    2. Do you think Mrs Gumble Bump should hire The Baby Snatcher to work in her garden?
    3. What are some things a family can do to protect their children? What can children do to protect themselves from criminals?
    4. If neighbours do not feel friendly towards each other, is it possible for them to be allies in their war against crime anyway?

    Questions for The Brigand
    1. What steps could Mr and Mrs Wotherspoon have taken to avoid being victimised by criminals while travelling in a foreign country?
    2. Despite the belief that Mr Wotherspoon would get no help from the police, should he have gone to them or to the Embassy anyway?
    3. If a person is abducted from a lonely place, it is hard to get help from others. If abducted from a crowd, should one call for help and risk being hurt and embarrassed, or go with the abductors quietly?

    Feedback from a primary school in Berkshire and one in Bristol who tried  this out with children of 7 to 9 years.
    Some of the children’s quotes are as they were written.

    The Centaur
    All children engrossed.

    “Just right for our age”
    “Set was good. I wish I could have seen it in real life”
    “ I liked the different characters”
    “My favourite character was The Centaur”
    “I thought the puppets absolutely amazing especially Mrs Gumble Bump.The way her lips and eyebrows moved was brilliant.”
    “I thought it was good. I like it when the old groty lady fell over. And when the old groty lady  was in her car and she sed (to The Centaur) get off the road. You sholdnt be on the road with out lihtes.’ “  

    The Conman
    Again all children engrossed. Age appropiate.
    Good moral story.

    “I think you could show it to young children to show how easy it is to tell lies.”
    “I thought it very funny when he tried to get out of the cupboard.”
    “Good lesson  - every time he did something wrong he was caught out.”
    “I thought it was intresting when the conman cept making diffrent ecsuses. I think I would just give him food and send him away.”
    “I thought The Conman was good because it teaches you a lesson to not trust strangers because they mite liy to you.”

    New Neighbours
    “His inventions were very good.”
    "I think his device for looking walls was brilliant.”
    “I thought it was good because it showed how we could help the new neighbours to settle in.”

    TEACHER’S QUESTION:  How could we help people to settle in?
    “We could help the children by asking them if they’d like to come into our garden to play”
    “Our Mum could invite the mother in for tea and look after the children while their mother arranged the furniture.”